Your Computer Looks Like Rocks

Modular computing isn’t anything new. Designers have been toying with the idea for years but the Stream concept is unique in packaging the whole experience in a form more conducive to zen relaxation creating a stronger relationship with the user. The Stream concept consists of Experience Modules, the Core Component, Component Modules, a Display, Charging Cradle, and Charging Base.

Each part is wirelessly connected through various technologies, giving them greater flexibility whether carried in the pocket or arranged on the Charging Base – much more beautiful to look at than even the most beautiful products Cupertino can pump out.

It can seem like a complex system so lets break down what each one does:

  • The Experience modules contain a solid state drive to store all your files and programs, as well as a logic board which handles all the wireless connections to other modules. Each “river stone” represents either Media (music, movies, tv etc.), Memories (personal photos, videos etc.), Connections (VOIP, internet browser, social networking etc.), Documents, Creations (Photoshop, 3D etc) or Games.
  • The Core module is the primary processing unit, capable of performing all tasks to some extent, but mainly designed for basic on-the-go tasks that a smartphone would do.
  • The Component modules enhance the processing power of the system – by adding extra RAM, processing and/or graphics power
  • The Portable Display is self explanatory. It uses a new UI called Locus (location based interface) which basically means the display knows where you are, what you’re doing and how you’re using it so the UI adapts to better suit it. However the system can connect to any size screen and the interface will dynamically scale to the correct size.
  • The Charging Cradle wirelessly keeps the 4.3 Portable Display module(s) juiced.
  • The Charging Base which is designed to sit in a central location and gives everything juice via wireless charging – a technology pioneered by Powercast. It also backs up all your data and allows for in-air interaction with the interface through, say, a tv.

Lets make up a scenario to better illustrate the idea. Say I go to the store to purchase Stream but I am only looking for basic email, web, game, and mobile phone capabilities. I pick up the required pieces which are the the Connections module which features email, internet and VOIP services as well as the Core Component. I may also purchase the Charging Base to keep everything charged and organized, as well as a compatible display. I take it all home and artfully arrange everything so it looks good on a desk I no doubt purchased to accent my new rock garden. I later decide I want to do some gaming. I will need a more powerful computer and the software for gameplay so it’s back to the store, only this time I don’t have to chuck the whole thing – all I need to do is purchase the Games module and some extra RAM and CPUs (Component Modules). I grab my Core Component, Connections rock and my Media rock (for music on the road trip) and my display to interact with everything – perhaps the GPS system to find the fastest route back to the store. The story can go on and on but I’m sure you get the gist.

There’s a slight disconnect though because in time your desk could be overflowing with rocks. However it’s the idea of purely envisioning our future computerlative systems as extensions of our homes, personalities, and needs. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a river rock metaphor. This analogy could exist in almost any form – legos, cubes, stuffed animals and that excites me. Cloud computing be dammed!

Designer: Barton Smith


  • nc26 says:

    design look WAY too complicated, you have no idea of what is what. hell, i’m kinda nerdy with computers but seriously, i cannot comprehend what this design is about at all

  • matt says:

    nice renderings and all…..but theres one little problem. i have NO idea what they are conveying….they explain almost NOTHING.

  • Barton Smith says:

    Hey, I’ve sent an email to LT explaining the system a little better hopefully as it does come across as confusing. It is quite simple though.

    As for the forms, it was a conscious effort to break away from current aesthetic paradigms in product design. Looking at how more natural, personal forms could increase product life cycles by creating stronger, more personal connections with the user.

    Pebbles and mercury were chosen for their holistic qualities. They can be collectively seen as one, without any physical connections. It was important that the modules gave the feeling of a whole system or computer when they sit on the base.

    • M.S.W says:

      The aesthetic of this design certainly pays a strong homage to the Sony PS3 & PSP design language both in color/material scheme and the stream logo.
      In fact if you are not currently ramping up for a formal proposal to Sony I would highly recommend it. (Or Nintendo if you change the overall theme to white. Since Nintendo loves proprietary formats) Since this design would best suited for the video gaming market because the proprietariness of the stones (aka cartridges) would reduce the ability for easy of pirating games.
      I would recommend to include in the product lineup variety of base styles. For example a bowl type would be good for those people that like to have alot of games easily accessable.
      Also would recommend including in the renders examples of the system interfacing with TV(s)/Projector(s) output via wireless add on stone/module. Last but not least show some UI via a solid/virtual keyboard/touch surface input.

      • Barton Smith says:

        It’s funny you mentioned Sony. I originally used their branding as an exercise to see how it would fit into a current product line. They didn’t allow their branding to be used though. I don’t really see any likeness to the ps3 but that is a personal opinion.

        The modules are not designed to be cartridges really, the Games module contains a solid state drive which would store the files.

        I agree with the base idea, and I like how you recognized the need for deeper and bigger bowls. The concept is as much a system as it is these six products and there is no limit to base designs, or displays or core compoents etc etc.

        Yeh I really want to have a render in a real life situation however I have so far found it hard to do this and have it look good. The best way to do it would be to model a scene but that is a massive task. But I will try as well with the interface.

        Drop me an email ([email protected]) and I’ll pass some renders by you/get some more opinions. It’s hard for me to know what to show since I understand the concept inside out, so your opinion is valued. Cheers

      • M.S.W says:

        BTW I do like the idea of having the games in each stone. That way when a user is annoyed with the game can always toss/skip it in the local pond 😉

    • Jack Baum says:

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  • Barton Smith says:

    Check out this too for another description of it:

  • jin_woo_han says:

    I couldnt recognize what is it for by picture ..

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