IF YOU REMEMBER way back in the dark days of 2007, Intel introduced a prototype ultrathin laptop called the Metro which was productized as the MacBook Air. Now there is a four screen successor called Intel 2009 Mobile Concept.
Four screens is enough
The idea is simple, put three distinct touchscreens at that awkward area between the screen and the top of the keyboard. Instead of 17 stupid keys that do things like change notification status on a vendor-specific social media network, Intel put three touch screens there.
While the screens are physically three separate devices, they are mapped onto Windows as a single large screen. Intel put in an FPGA that parses the data to the screens appropriately, so to the software, it should be transparent. You can drag and drop from the main screen to the secondary ones, and use the touch functionality as an input device. The screens can be used as both a preview widget and an input widget.
Specifics of the laptop aren’t really relevant, if this becomes productized, what you can buy will be very different. When the Metro became the MacBook Air, Apple somehow took the Intel concept and removed some things. Reliability, battery life, WiMax/WAN functionality and ports are a few of the things that come to mind. When you see the 2009 Mobile Concept variants from vendors, it will likely be neutered by OEM whims as well.
The most important part is the software. Intel has some dev tools available to play with this and similar devices, but there is no direct link to the software we can share yet. If you want to write widgets for multiple screen laptops, write Intel and ask, there is very likely an SDK it can point you to.
From here, it is just a matter of waiting for the OEMs to chop, hack and cost down the Intel ideas. It took the MacBook about six months to go from the Metro debut to shelves, so think CES for 2009 Concept derived laptops to be shown off.S|A