If you?d like to read explorations of the ?one gadget limit? idea, I?d
suggest you search for articles on ?convergence?. An example of ?one
gadget? convergence: a home theater, comprising several racks of
electronic gadgets, is orchestrated using a ?universal controller?.
You ask: If this idea -- ?one gadget limit? -- doesn't exist, is
there a similar one that does?
Yes. The ?similar idea? is actually the design discipline called
?human-machine interface design?. This is a broad field of
intellectual inquiry; I do not believe it can be reduced to a
simplistic ?one gadget limit?, as I hope to illustrate with the
The intelligent approach to design is this: to configure the machine
inputs and outputs so that a human will derive superb satisfaction and
pleasure over a lifetime of interaction with the machine. For
example, consider the design of various musical instruments ?
woodwinds, the violin family (bowed or plucked strings), the harp and
guitar family, keyboard instruments, percussion instruments. Isn?t it
obvious that these musical instruments are in fact stunning works of
art, beautiful to the eye and ear, and carefully refined to respond
with perfect ergonomics to the human hand?
Ask a classical violinist if he or she would enthusiastically play a
difficult musical composition on a cell phone keyboard.
Obviously, the intelligent approach to machine-interface design, is
the diametric opposite of the ?one gadget does everything, but poorly?
approach to design.
The ?one gadget limit? doesn?t work for pocket-size devices either.
Consider some specific examples of gadgets we carry with us. We carry
both a palm pilot for simple input tasks, but we also carry a notebook
computer because its larger keyboard and display provide a pleasurable
and less fatiguing interface to hands and eyeballs.
We wear sunglasses with a heads-up video display so we can view a
baseball game while walking, but we don?t try to combine these
sunglasses with the keychain FOB that provides wireless access to our
car. We do not carry one ?universal? identity/cash card, but a
separate health insurance card, driver?s license, passport with
biometric chip, 2 or more credit/debit cards, actual currency and
coinage, a pocket knife, house keys, etc.
Would anyone seriously propose that all of these pocket items be
unified in one universal device?
Just today I heard a proposal for exactly the opposite: a proposal to
add one more gadget, a wristwatch-device connected via Bluetooth to
the pocket cell phone. The wristwatch-device would display the
identity of the caller (without fishing the cell phone out of pocket
or handbag) & have a ?send to voicemail? control button ? and a few
more buttons as well. This wristwatch-device may evolve to become the
pocket-device analog of the ?universal controller? in a home theater