Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

Summary: It's time for the Personal Grid, a protocol that is designed to let different mobile gadgets communicate when near each other to leverage the multiple screens for the user's benefit.

TOPICS: Mobility

Mobile technology has advanced at such a rapid pace it has permeated our entire computing infrastructure. The likelihood of having multiple devices and (thus screens) is strong, with many folks having laptops, tablets and smartphones at the very least. Throw in ereaders and other mobile devices and you have millions of users with multiple screens around them that don't currently interact. It's time for what I call the Personal Grid (PG), a simple protocol that works cross-platform that is designed to let these gadgets communicate when near each other to leverage the multiple screens for the user's benefit.

The Personal Grid concept started gelling with me when I saw the HP TouchPad at the webOS press event earlier this year. While HP's implementation is restricted to interaction between the Pre 3 smartphone and the TouchPad tablet, neither of which is available yet, the benefits are immediate and great. HP leverages the web connection of the Pre 3 phone, and extends it to the TouchPad tablet when it is being used. Using a simple Bluetooth connection, when communications are received on the phone the notifications appear instantly on the tablet. This covers incoming voice calls, email and text messages. The user can process the incoming communications using the device in hand, no matter where the connection is established.

The ability to leave the smartphone in the bag or pocket while using the tablet and still leveraging the connectivity is tremendously useful. What makes this so powerful is the design that has this happen automatically because the two devices talk to each other when in close proximity. The user simply sets it up once and forgets about it, the magic interaction then just happens.

This is my vision for the Personal Grid but expanded to cover all mobile gadgets. Without having to purchase into a proprietary system or brand, common devices would communicate once instructed to leverage them as best serves the user. Bluetooth could be used for the connectivity, or another wireless technology if that better serves the purpose. The goal is to have all mobile devices, laptops, tablets, smartphones, ereaders and whatever comes along, link up seamlessly and share common information for displaying on the device in hand at a given moment.

The Personal Grid could start out simple like the HP implementation and just focus on communications. This would provide the most benefit for consumers yet could be expanded in time with greater functionality. Display content could eventually be shared automatically for example. The possibilities are endless once the devices are working together by default.

For the Personal Grid to take off, it would need to be cross-platform, and this may be the biggest obstacle. Getting these platforms to work together will require cooperation between the big players, and they don't always like to do that. Maybe the best way to get the PG going is to have it on one mobile platform initially; Android would be a likely choice as it is powering so many different devices.

The Personal Grid could be the glue that binds all of the mobile technology that is growing rapidly into a cohesive tool with near endless utility. Capabilities could be added to the interaction between devices that I can't even conceive yet that would make this huge. I'll bet you can imagine interesting ways the Personal Grid could be leveraged. Share them in the Talkback and lets get the PG started.

Image credit: Flickr user Lomo-Cam

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Topic: Mobility

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  • Render unto Blackhat

    Yeah, though I walk through the valley of Hackers, I shall not fear that they are vacuuming up my privacy data via proximity protocols, for my vendor has assured me that my data is secure.
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

      @Robert Hahn

      I couldn't agree more. The Ubertooth One eagerly awaits in the shadows.
  • What's taking so long?

    Honestly James, I have no idea why this is taking so long. The technology has been in place for some time now and no company seems to be taking the steps towards this. It's a beautiful concept that would enrich our lives by a long shot while at the same time not being to difficult to achieve. Not to even mention the amount of platform loyalty it would bring. However, I do see most vendors going about this in the wrong way in the future. I'm pretty sure their game plan is vendor lock-in and not true cross platform access of your data. I think the only hope lies with Google. They seem to get that even though they own your data, you can have access to it anywhere you want, on any device, any platform. Sadly Apple and a lot of the other Android manufacturers (think MotoBLUR/Sense) do not.

    Asides from this. James, I have been a reader since your beginning days at JK and this is my first time commenting. I just want to say thanks for all the great articles, and keep up the great work. Your truly a great writer, and what I love most is that your very unbiased and just focus on the product. I find that in tech reporting that is very rare. Thank you, and keep it up.
    • RE: Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

      @accountgamer1 Thanks so much, it is appreciated. :)
  • PG

  • Actually, what PG would be about, is what Windows 8 is about,

    and, unless I have a misunderstanding about Win8, all the things mentioned in the blog is what's being contemplated as capabilities and features for the new OS; seamless communications and sharing of resources between all of your devices. iCloud would be doing something similar, except that Apple would be in control, remotely, directing traffic and data.
  • RE: Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

    Adobe is doing this now with its iOS apps that let you use your iPad to control their applications on the PC & Mac.
  • Already have one - a secure one

    I already have a *secure* personal grid. I'm syncing my personal info between my desktop, laptop, phone and tablet thanks to B-Folders. Check it out
  • RE: Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

    I call it "bluetooth."
    • Damn.. beat me to it.. :)

      @CobraA1 - I always thought that was the whole idea behind Bluetooth, but over the past decade, it's never really gotten anywhere further than "mouse->keyboard->computer" or "phone->headset".

      In reality there've been some really cool products that used BT in innovative (for their time, especially) ways (see Sony's original MicroMV camera - was sharing video wirelessly before most people had broadband internet access).
      • RE: Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

        @daftkey Maybe there's just no demand for a "Personal Grid," otherwise I imagine technologies like Bluetooth would already be doing this stuff.

        It probably falls in the category of "it's cool, but is it useful?"
  • Lets connect them by usual wireless tech but with same concept of software

    I think it could be possible to use software that get the permissions from user and communicate with specific tech (WiFi / Bluetooth) and unique concept of software (functionality).
  • RE: Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

    SUCH A PLATFORM EXISTS NOW!!! It has been borne out of Syracuse University by a company now known as WGC ( and is called the Wireless Grid!! I can't believe no one has mentioned this on here!! ANDROID SHMANDROID!