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By Juji
#25595
This concept is pretty good, but I'm not great at expressing my ideas, so be patient with me.

Picture a PC that's simply a cube. It will perhaps be worth $500-$700 and it will have the most basic functions as a PC, just enough RAM and graphic capacity to enable smooth web browsing functionality. Why is it so expensive then? It's going to be super adaptable. Hear me out.

On all four sides and on top it will have some sort of connection mechanism (it could be a cartridge slot or an invisible magnetic interface). Now, companies can manufacture modules (for aesthetics, it can be a rectangular prism the same width and length of the cube) which interact with these interfaces. The modules can have extra memory, more RAM, a graphics card, a sound card, a DVD reader, various software, etc. and all these modules have their own price range. you simply buy these modules and attach them to your block PC to upgrade it. You can have up to 6 attachments which function TOGETHER. That being said, it is also possible to sell extension units to enable you to theoretically have infinite attachments if you needed it, therefore this block PC can be anything from a cheap basic computer to a supercomputer.

For example, you buy the block PC first, after a while you want to play a game that was just released. You go to a store which will sell you a 'gaming module' - which includes the necessary RAM, Graphics card and other hardware to enable you to play top end games - for like $500-1000. You buy it and place it on top of your block PC and it magnetically seals (you could make a button that releases it) then it reprograms itself to use the new hardware and it turns into a gaming PC. If you need more power you can buy another gaming module, instead of needing to update your old module, you use both modules and you get twice the ram, etc.

Furthermore, because the modules don't need too much hardware (because the block PC will have the motherboard, power supply etc.), you can trade and borrow it like a video game.

The best part is, maybe in the future, the modules and the box PC can also interact with other devices like phones and TVs, so you can use specific software on other devices or hardware to boost them.

I am no tech wiz, but I'm pretty sure today's technology is sufficient to create this. This has so much potential, that even I can't fully visualize it. Hopefully this idea helps you out. Good Luck!

Reward: All I did was seed the idea, you deserve the credit for making it real. However, if possible I want some credit for inspiring you to create the device. If not public credit, could I have one of the first ever block PCs signed by you and maybe the other people involved in the creation of the product so I can brag about it to friends and family?
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By Steve
#25600
Like the basic idea, and especially the aesthetics.

Biggest challenge for this is probably the fact that the actual size of units varies. Obviously, you can't squeeze a DVD into a little prism, but then again the visuals of this idea are based on the fact that all components pretty much look the same. So my guess is that implementation won't happen until some time in the future, when everything is so small that a bit of wasted space doesn't matter.
By Juji
#25601
Good point. I totally forgot about the empty space. But ideally I was thinking the main block to be around 20x20x20 cm and the additional blocks.to be 20x20x10 this is perfect for the DVD reader and graphic/sound card as well as for a use/Audi/min jack. There might be some empty space, but that could be devoted to coolants and a cooling system(I reckon a liquid based cooling system is ideal due to the lack of ventilation).
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By Steve
#25602
Actually I was hoping for something more like this:

Image

I understand it's not exactly what you had in mind, but it's what came up in front of my eyes when I read "simply a cube" and pieces you could easily attach and remove.

In the smartphone age, there are really a lot of things that can be made very small these days. Keep in mind that there are micro SD cards with 1TB (2TB soon to come), so fitting a hard drive in a small cube shouldn't be a challenge. Worst case, you'd have a component consisting of several cubes, much like a Tetris piece.

Thinking about it, I'd simply skip the DVD player for this construction. Just go with stuff you can fit in small cubes. The main challenge, of course, is how to make connections by simply attaching two pieces, without ending up with a short circuit. May seem impossible at first, but I'm sure it can be done, just requires an approach that's very different from the classical plug/socket model. Cubes (or Prisms or any other shape) should be constructed as symmetrical containers, where all sides can connect in the same way.

External devices would have to connect wirelessly, as everything else would break the beauty of the whole thing. Electricity could be induced via magnetic induction from below. If you absolutely need a DVD drive, it could connect wirelessly as well and you could hide it somewhere under the desk.
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By Steve
#25603
As for the connections, you could probably fake this, by using a material that is not actually a conductor for the shell, and by placing little interfaces in the middle of each side. The cubes would then have to recognize each other and figure out what signals to send through the interfaces, and in which directions.
By Juji
#25608
I understand where your coming from steave. I originally did want a compact structure but from what I could tell, if you want to scale it down that much, there are issues with longevity, graphic and processing limitations and price escalations. That's why I opted for a larger model that doesn't vary too much from current computers(I.e. Similarly sized circuitry and hardware). But your additions may be more applicable if we are thinking of technology a decade in the future.
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By Glasspopsicle
#25612
By using blocks as add ons it kind of implies that they are homogenous in terms of how they fit in. However, that is not the case, and the add ons may be redundant. But, maybe that could be resolved by using distinct colored blocks with distinct ports.

I think it might make more sense to use blocks for _extending_ beyond existing core functionality. For instance, you have a block that connects to your mobile phone, which in turn can be connected to a keyboard, a graphics card for better graphics processing, a monitor, and/or even extend to a tablet or laptop through hubs between the mobile phone.

Maybe having a programmable computer that utilises many small module "blocks" would be a cool concept for teaching students about computers. Each blocks can be programmed and tested independently and added on later on to create complex hardware. The software written can then be utilised on a small device such as a tablet, mobile phone, or desktop PC. Each block would represent a self-contained and coherent set of functions. For instance, the display unit, the system bus, the input/output module, and the CPU each can be used as separate blocks.

Another concept that might be great is having blocks that can be manipulated to change the existing functionality of a device. Imagine a game that utilises the existing blocks for manipulating the in-game setting. Additional blocks could be purchased to extend functionality. The blocks could represent progress. A tower of blocks could represent a formidable stage in a game.
By Juji
#25614
-Glasspopsicle
If you read the original post, this is what I was trying to convey. You only needed one 'mother' block with the main hardware like mother board and Power pack. The add ons are just a means of improving functionality and performance.
Also I reckon it is better not to have specific slots in the main block. It's probably better to have a magnetic interface that universaly interacts with any add on pack(and maybe smartphones with Nfc chips). Since it is limited otherwise.
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By Steve
#25617
In my mind, this idea is definitely a gimmick. That isn't negative in any way, but the core of the idea in my view is that it's visually appealing, not that it's necessarily practical.

To make it practical, you could simply come up with some kind of, well, board as the main block. Equip it with a couple of universal sockets you can use to plug in other boards and extend functionality.

Ooops - but isn't that exactly how computer work nowadays? :-?

Generally it's always a good idea to compare a new idea with what already exists. Subtract what already exists from the new idea, and you can see what's actually innovative about it (and what isn't).
By Juji
#25618
It is a little gimmicky. I agree. But what I envision is still to far in the future I guess. At it's core, I wanted a computer that can 'evolve' rather than be replaced and a computer that can interact with other devices through physical touch. the thing that separates this from a normal Pc is its utility and it's infinite potential.
Imagine, instead of buying a new pc each year and waste money, you just needed to get a new add on. Because at its core most PC's don't change too much from generation to generation.
You can also use the same add on on your laptop or game console to boost performance.
In this way, the block PC may be superior to a modern computer.
That being said. I'm aware this is JUST an idea. But if someone where to adopt this idea and brainstorm properly. This could be more than just a gimmick. Right?
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By Steve
#25619
Right. But what I'm saying is that the "evolution" would already be possible with today's technology. Main reason it doesn't exist, in my view, is because manufacturers don't want you to go there - they prefer that you throw away the entire device and buy a new one every two years, that way they make the most money. (Just remember the story about Apple where people couldn't even replace the battery and Apple expected everyone to "simply" buy a new device once the battery is broken.)
By Juji
#25620
Hahahaha. I guess real life is like that. Yeah, it's not too realistic, But that will only make this more popular IF this becomes real, right? This will be like anti-apple where efficiency and customer needs is more valued than profit.
But I guess this idea isn't really profit based since in the long term it won't be as profitable as selling normal PC's .
(although if this becomes real, the competition in the electronic market will increase and it will be revolutionary from an economics stand point)
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