My 2006 year prediction

I think 2006 may be the year we see a new disruptive technology, with headless (linux) devices. We are already seeing it a bit with PVRs, but here's my ideal device.
You go to the store and buy a box it's designed to sit in the closet or someplace out of the way. It can be used as a NAT/firewall. It has a huge hard drive and you can hot-swap in one more. If it finds another similar device on the network it will configure itself to be a mirror of the other device. If you don't have your house wired you can get the more popular WiFi version.
So for a beginner it should be really easy, they ideally buy two of these boxes and plug them into the wall, one of them they plug into a cable modem or other the broadband connection. Both of them would be hotspots so by placing them in different locations you can get better WiFi coverage. They automatically talk to each other in a p2p fashion. If one of them dies it's ok because they are automatically mirroring each other, just buy another and it'll eventually mirror all the data again. Put one next to your stereo system and you can use it to play music. Next to the TV and you can play movies. Plug it into a voip phone and you can have free telephone service. It would be like an information furnace where you store all your data.
The reasons this device will be compelling is because it will provide:
  • Multiple, peer-to-peer WiFi access points
  • Automatic, simple backup
  • Ability to use the device to play music or TV.
  • Ability to use it as an PBX with Asterisk.
  • A Firewall / NAT device.
  • Configure it to download podcasts, tv shows, etc. at night.
  • A web server to have a presence on the web. Where you could also drop in extensions to manage you home, say.
  • Using, say, WebDAV you could grab your files from work if you forgot something at home, you could even do continuous backups, while away from home.
  • You won't need to install a buch of stuff (backup, asterisk, apache, firewall) on your own machine, it will be lean.
Way too many people, myself included, don't back up their data often enough. It's difficult and painful not to mention a little expensive in terms of all the media you need to buy. A neat way to backup is to copy files between machines but that means buying and installing software or using Bacula or some such. Small business owners may be the first buyers for such devices.
This could all be done with off the shelf components, all that is needed is for someone to put them all together and with software that configures everthing automatically. The device wouldn't need to be fast or need to worry about bootup times. It wouldn't need much RAM. Each cube could be preconfigured with an ID (probably MAC address) and a password. This information would be printed on the card or maybe on a cheap USB keychain and also be written inside the device (i.e. you need to open it up to find the information in case you loose the card). Installation would ask for this information when you set it up the first time. If I could get two of the devices for about $1,000.00 I think I'd go for it.
Well that's my prediction for 2006.


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