Promera is a design research concept based on the integration of three familiar technologies; a pen-based computer, a projector, and a video camera. Weaving these technologies together with new but intuitive interaction techniques we have developed a multi-function, hand-held personal computer.
At the close of the century the technology industries have created a powerful, yet for now, unharnessed accomplishment. They have developed the wireless and web based infrastructure capable of obtaining and interacting with virtually any information, any place and at any time. For now we have laptop computers and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's), but these have limits. The former lets us do big and powerful things but is in itself big and unusable on the move. The problem with the latter is it is small and does only small things.
Promera is a palm-held, donut-size computer that affords all the capabilities of a laptop computer but with interaction methods that allow it to be small itself. Moreover, it has several other interaction techniques that extend its ability beyond conventional computers. It is small enough to fit in a pants pocket but can display information at large sizes.
Promera has two means of gathering information cellular components that allow it to collect information wirelessly from servers, and an integrated still/video camera for gathering images. In camera mode Promera has a 6x zooming capability and large soft leather pads on its sides to zoom images in and out. The harder Promera is squeezed the closer the image becomes. Releasing pressure on the pads releases the image back out.
This system makes interaction with the information much more intimate and direct than flipping small levers or switches for zooming. Once information is gathered, Promera employs several interaction techniques to view and manipulate it. First, information gathered into Promera can be viewed on its round liquid crystal display (LCD). Or, for larger viewing, information on the LCD can be projected back through the camera lens. This is done using a mechanism much like a single lens reflex (SLR) camera uses. In camera mode Promera's CCD chip receives still and video images. In projection mode the CCD chip folds down and an array of RGB semiconductor lasers are exposed. These small lasers project the information on PromeraÕs display at high-intensities and low-power on any flat surface. These are the same lasers used in wand-like light pointers.
Promera has a flexible pen that stores around its perimeter. Once removed, the pen straightens and is used for selecting items on Promera's display, writing commands such as website searches, drawing on and annotating pictures taken with the camera, and also for navigation.