Why Mobile Devices are Stifling Creativity and Collaboration

There are many arguments about when and what the first really smart phone was, but when IBM brought Simon onto the market in 1993, it was an age when personal computers were completely changing the tech landscape. It was designed to be a mobile office, acting as a fax machine, pager, mobile phone and a PDA. It had an address book, calculator, notepad, email and a QWERTY keyboard. In short, it was everything a businessperson in the mid-90s could need from an advanced mobile office device.

But those features are instantly recognisable even twenty years later. Smartphones have got faster and more powerful, of course, but they still function a bit like mobile offices from the mid-90s. They haven’t quite broken free of the PC-based conventions that the first mobile phones were built on.

Office setup with mobile devices
photo credit: Felix Meyer

Essentially, they haven’t quite kept up with the innovative ways we would like to work, collaborate and be creative now.

The problem with our mobiles and The Internet of Things

This problem – that PC-based mobile technology isn’t keeping up with how we want to live, work and play – is particularly apparent when you look at the advancements in the Internet of Things.

We can control our heating and DVRs from our mobiles, but we have to have separate apps for both. That means every time we want to use a smart board, share a photo or turn down our heating, we have to get our phone, open one app, do what we want, close the app, open another app and so on until we’ve accomplished everything we wanted to do.

Each of these apps and devices function completely independently. We can’t easily flick a photo from our phone to any smart board, because each smart device acts as its own separate entity. They don’t collaborate as we’d like them to, and this has some big implications for our own ability to collaborate.

Technology’s inability to collaborate limits our own ability to collaborate in the ways we’d like to, which in turn limits our creative potential, whether at work, school or home.

The solution is a new kind of mobile computing

Dizmo UI
photo credit: Kickstarter

Naturally in the world of technology, when a problem like this rears its ugly head, the boffins put theirs down and start working on solutions. Many companies and individuals are working tirelessly to find the best way to integrate all our devices together, so we can create, rearrange and share all our content across all our devices, be the in the board room, the class room or the living room.

New integrated interfaces platforms allow people to manipulate digital content almost as if they were real, physical objects. Moreover, these interfaces can be integrated into almost any surface, from countertops to tables and even to water, in some cases.

This new technology isn’t looking at one square device, like a PC or a smart phone, as the universal remote control for several distinct objects. Instead, it is bringing together all our smart devices, from our refrigerators to our laptops, so that we can update our grocery lists during a video chat or take a design we’re developing on a table top and flick it over to our collaborators in parts of the world, so they can see more clearly what we’re talking about.


In effect, this new technology combines both the in-person collaboration of pre-digital times and the sci-fi style needs of the future. It’s turning physical items into digital ones, so time and distance become less important, but it is also getting smart objects to work together like they do in sci-fi films. It allows us to blend the digital with the physical in an intuitive way, allowing us to work together and with our devices without all the stopping, switching and starting of current, PC-based mobile technology.

In short, it will erase the individual functionality of each of our devices, which will simply increase our ability to collaborate and be creative.

About the Author: Luigi Mantellassi, chief marketing officer and Co-Founder of dizmo, enjoys connecting people through technology, bringing his expertise in consumer electronics and global marketing to the team. You can keep up with his and dizmo’s latest developments on their Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn pages.