With time, technological innovations are literally blurring the line between reality and science fiction, truly! While emerging technology-enabled gadgets look cool and make you moony eyed-what about making your existing products compatible with the latest technologies? Well, you cannot make a feature phone into a smartphone but equipping an old laptop with touch screen is now possible. Well, there are a few limitations of the technology, but it has arrived.
AirBar: The magical device brings touch screen functionality to your traditional laptop
Developed by a Sweden based company named Neonode, AirBar is a breakthrough gadget that makes your old traditional laptop equipped with touch screen functionality. It does sound magical, but the product is likely to go on shelves in the first half of 2016. It is available for pre-order already. You can place order for the device at the Neonode website. At the CES 2016, the company gave demos of the product and it hogged headlines aplenty.
With AirBar your regular laptop screen turns into a fully functional touch screen. A discreet bezel bar is fitted beneath screen of the laptop and it emits a light field on the screen which kicks in touch factor! It is powered by USB. The light field functionality is called zForce AIR technology and it is invisible. The touch screen can recognize a number of touch gestures, including zoom and pinch. The functionality is instant and very effective, says the company.
What are the benefits?
AirBar comes with a number of benefits for the users. These are:
· There is no need to carry around a heavy piece of accessory with you. It is a thin bar that is lightweight and sleek. Just attach it to the bottom of your laptop and you are ready to start using touch screen anytime-anywhere. It is pretty lightweight and nearly blends with body of black and grey laptops. Carrying the strip in your laptop bag will not be tough at all.
· There is nothing like a software installation and updating it from time to time. It is an absolutely plug and play type device. No calibration is required to make it work as well. It makes the device extremely easy for tech challenged users who fumble about software hardware sync.
· No external power source is required to run AirBar. It comes with a magnetic strip which makes it easy to attach to the laptop.
· Unlike regular touch screen enabled laptops, you will be able to use the virtual touch screen created by the device with many other things than fingers. You can very well use gloves and pencils for getting the touch screen experience, for example. This flexibility is surely not available in most regular touch screen enabled laptops-including costly ones.
· As of now, AirBar costs $49 though this can change in the future. But the cost is still way less than what you spend on buying even an entry level touch screen laptop- made by any brand. So, this is not going to be a problem for users with modest budgets and students.
Are there any limitations?
So, does it mean AirBar has the power to convert billions of regular laptops into touch screen enabled ones fast! The answer may sound a tad disheartening for the regular laptop users. As of now, you cannot use the device with just any traditional laptop. The few limitations are:
· The major drawback of AirBar is it works with 15.6 inch laptops, as of now. Recently the company has also added support for laptops with 13.3 and 14 inch screen sizes. So that still leaves out still a section of laptop users having devices with varying screen sizes. It remains to be seen if in future the company offers support for laptops with varying screen sizes.
· It works only with Chromebooks and Windows based laptops. Windows 7, 8 and 10 based laptops are compatible with it. The company says on its part that AirBar does offer limited compatibility with OS X-so the Mac Book users are not exactly left in the cold! But they still have some way to go.
· A few laptops may have operational issues with the strip attached. There may not be enough space to close the lid with it attached. It can be detached at ease, but some users may not like to attach and detach a number of times, thus making it a fidgety device for a few. However, this may not be a worry for the majority of users who will lap up the instant virtual touch screen functionality.
What lies ahead?
Initially, the promises offered by Air Bar seem to be quite heartwarming. It has the potential to make your ageing laptop get a new lease of life. The functionality and ease of use is beyond doubt. At the CES 2016, the functionality of the device made viewers really astonished. It is commendable that the company has added support for laptops with varying screen sizes in a short span of time. However, it would be also good if they can offer support ultra portables and net book models. For aesthetic reasons, the company may think about making the device in other colors. Not all laptops have black or grayish body-you know! Besides, the commercial usage of the device has not started. Its performance in the long run is yet to be seen.