Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Plug everything into everything else

Enable interfacing between as many devices as possible
  [vote for,

Although this is under "Computer:display", the nature of the idea is such that it only fits here as well as it would in various other places, but it fits about as badly here as elsewhere too.

Take a random device, e.g. a laptop. It has speakers, a keyboard, a little wiggly thing wherewith you can move a cursor, a display and so forth. Sometimes, one of these either stops working properly or just isn't very good compared to something else to which you might have access. In extreme cases, this can even mean you just lose the ability to use the device at all, at which point They expect you to go out and buy a new one, but since you are mainly dumpster-diving for goosnargh, maybe due to the recession and the decline of Western civilisation, that ain't gonna happen, so hmm, questionably optimistic business plan there i think, but we shall see. I'm an early adopter in that respect of course.

Anyway, with probably quite a lot of extra electronic jiggery-pockery which will presumably drive up the prices, why not make as many things as possible plug into as many other things as possible? So i've got a DAB radio on my left but am currently listening to yer actual radio on the crappy speakers of this mini-tablet due to crackly charging and reading my words on its display even though the radio display can show the few words i need for to cunnen type this. In the meantime the keyboard is on the blink even though there are several other devices in this room (e.g. a synth) with perfectly good keyboards.

So, the following devices could be made to plug into each other in meaningful ways in the following categories:

Speakers (and microphones) on radios, TVs, telephones, Hi-fis and in other devices such as media players, computers and consoles.

Displays on tablets, laptops, TVs, portable DVD players, radios and calculatrices, including seven-segment ones and blinkenlights.

Keyboards on typewriters, tablets, laptops, desktops, smartphones (including on-screen keyboards in that).

Pointing devices as in mice, digitising tablets, tablet tablets, the doobries on laptops, the little wiggly things on laptops, joysticks, sadnesssticks, games console thingies, touchscreens.

Storage devices including memory sticks, record turntables, eight-tracks, punchcards, reel-to-reel tape, VCRs, tape- and DVD-based camcorders, optical drives in anything with an optical drive.

Anything light sensitive, e.g. camera obscura rooms, scanners, pinhole cameras, cine cameras, instamatic cameras, cameras on 'phones, tablets, webcams, DSLRs and so on.

Printers, photocopiers, fax machines and all that lot, which put stuff on paper.

Probably some other things such as mobiles, fax modems and short wave radios, forming a sort of comms category and some other categories i haven't thought of like smoke alarms.

Also, undertake two projects: make a box into which you can plug any number of almost-compatible devices to make them compatible, such as an old camcorder with composite video output and a USB into which you'd plug a webcam (and write an appropriate driver presumably); and make a whole set of new devices which enable you to take something like a nineteenth-century still camera and use it in the same way, use an old film projector as a display device and a virginal to send SMS messages.

So yeah, basically plug everything into everything else.

nineteenthly, Feb 20 2013

Palm Multi-connector https://en.wikipedi...alm_Multi-Connector
Single connector for power, audio and data. [DrBob, Feb 20 2013]

USB in a Nutshell http://www.beyondlo....shtml#Introduction
[zen_tom, Feb 20 2013]


       Haven't we done this one? If not, it only stands to reason that somebody oughtn't have.
Alterother, Feb 20 2013

       (Contemplates posting "Universal Cerial Bus" - a free-to-all travel paradigm that doubles as breakfast restaurant - decides against)   

       USB already works towards the stated aim of the idea - so in that respect, it's covered. What is new is the idea of a component who's sole task it is to provide interconnectivity between objects. That might be cool. Implementation would probably be a computer - but I quite like the idea of making that computer a component in of itself - I'm imagining a blob of black impact-plastic covered entirely with differently shaped/sized ports and connections catalogging the last 50 years of plugs ports and (internally) protocols.
zen_tom, Feb 20 2013

       Not got any strong opinions on the idea itself, but I want to thank nineteenthly for the expert deployment of "wherewith". Rarely have I seen the word so well used. As you were.
calum, Feb 20 2013

       If the connectivity is limited to data (and possibly low-power 5V), then basically it all comes down to software. You'd need some agreed language whereby my loptap can connect to my theremin and say "hello, I'm a loptap with a keyboard and a screen - what are you and how can we work together?", and my theremin can say "I'm a theremin, and can give you sound data in exchange for any input."   

       I suspect this is doable. Maybe the answer is to treat every piece of hardware as if it were a web page.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2013

       It's more than doable, it's done - that's precisely what USB is/does - at least in terms of the "hello, I'm a toaster" type of thing.   

       What can/should be done better is defining a common place/method for finding the appropriate software - e.g. by agreeing as part of that greeting handshake, to pass over some kind of url wherin appropriate drivers might be found etc - but I suspect that's also part of (at least some of the current) existing USB implementations. Security issues aside - that'd be a good way to do it.
zen_tom, Feb 20 2013

       What I just love are the USB charge cords that have proprietary plugs on the other end.   

       Bastards. If we were to have this sort of environment 40 years ago industry would've never come up with things like standard battery sizes.   

       And who the eff decided that USB should be perfectly rectangular and not visually keyed?
RayfordSteele, Feb 20 2013

       //Plug everything into everything else// - everything except the evil SCART plug, of course
hippo, Feb 20 2013

       //What can/should be done better is defining a common place/method for finding the appropriate software// Yes, that's what I was getting at. However, if things were designed well enough, why should there be a need to download drivers? Many devices already tell human operators how to operate them - why can't they tell another device how to operate them?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2013

       A coworker of mine, about two decades back, used to use the term "universal data cloaca".
lurch, Feb 20 2013

       The new Apple 'Lightning' connector works out if it's been plugged in upside-down and reconfigures all the pins in software.
hippo, Feb 20 2013


       Can anyone confirm that the etymology of “cloakroom” is “enclosed area within building, which connects to the sewage system”?
pocmloc, Feb 20 2013

       Yes, I can confirm that that is the wrong etymology. The word "cloakroom" is cunningly contrived by joining the words "cloak" and "room". It is a room in which to hang one's cloak.   

       "Cloak", in turn, comes from the French "cloche", since (at least to the feeble French imagination), a cloak is like a big cloth bell that you wear; it is not connected to "cloaca". "Room", in turn, comes from "rum", an Old English word for space or a space.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2013

       That is sooooo boring.
pocmloc, Feb 21 2013

       // enclosed area within building, which connects to the sewage system //   

       You may be thinking of a 'garderobe' (literally derived from 'guard' 'robe'), which is a sort of latrine that protrudes from the wall of a castle, so that the hole is actually outside the wall and the waste just drops down on whatever happens to be down there. Resourceful people that they were, midieval nobles found that if they hung their fine woolens on the inside of the door the stench would keep the moths away.
Alterother, Feb 21 2013

       Not only do I know what one is but I have used one when caught short in a ruined castle when no-one was watching.
pocmloc, Feb 21 2013

       This sounds like the device ET built to phone home.
evilpenguin, Feb 21 2013

       ET built a garderobe?!
Alterother, Feb 21 2013

       The wardrobe smells like cedar, not shit.   

       Kudos to [poc], btw.
Alterother, Feb 21 2013


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