#ELI2015 Attendee Device Tech: 5 Observations

What gadgets did you bring to Anaheim?

February 12, 2015
Now that we are all back from #ELI2015 it is time to talk about what really mattered at the Conference - the gadgets. The whole world is watching the personal tech choices of the elite globe trotting opinion makers who flock each year to the glamorous global ELI confab. Today’s ELI attendee tech is tomorrow’s must own device.  
What personal tech did I see this week in Anaheim?
1. Fewer iPads - More Ginormous Phones: The last few ELI conferences have felt like iPad collector conferences. Everyone seemed to be pulling out those ridiculous keyboard cases, holding up iPads to take pictures of the presentation decks (hint … the decks are available online), and following Twitter on their iPads while pretending to be interested in the presenters. At #ELI2015 I saw many few iPads, and lots more super giant phones. Going to ELI has become basically the same as hanging out with a bunch of teenagers - everyone is paying more attention to their phones than anything else around them. ELI attendees are amazing quick to whip out their giant phones to tweet their latest brilliant insight, take a picture of a presenter deck (because who wants to wait to download the whole deck), and read their e-mails while pretending to pay attention to the presenter.
2. Surprising Numbers of Surface Pros: If you are a Windows person attending ELI the chances seem pretty good that you are a Surface Pro Windows person. And why not? The Surface Pro was actually designed to be both a tablet and a laptop. The iPad was not.  The Surface Pro has an OS that works for productivity on a tablet. The iPad does not. The Surface Pro has a good keyboard case and a built in stand. The iPad does not. Microsoft is smart to keep iterating on this converged device.  ELI people are beginning to notice that Apple may have some competition.
3. Disturbingly Few Chromebooks:  Google needs to find some way to focus on higher ed. Higher ed people must have not received the memo about the advantages of the Chromebook. Quick thought experiment: How much money would our colleges and universities save if the only institutionally purchased machine that employees could receive is a Chromebook? How much more equity would we have if every adjunct got the same computer as the CIO or the full professor? How much would we save by never buying Office licenses, and relying solely on Google Drive?   How much would we save our students if we built our technology ecosystem around Chromebooks, Google Drive, and the web?  A crazy dream you say? Google - you and your Chromebooks don’t have near the mind share in higher ed as you enjoy in K-12. The fastest way to change this would be get Chromebooks in the hot little hands of as many ELI participants as possible - and to send whoever passes as educational people from the Plex to San Antonio for #ELI2016.
4. No Personal Smartphone Projectors: Some of the projectors were so dim at Hilton meeting rooms that I was half expecting someone to offer up their smartphone projector. The problem may be that these devices don’t really exist yet. Well, they exist - see the Samsung Galaxy Beam 2 phone - but I don’t know anyone who has one. Any bets if the iPhone 7 will have built in projection capacity?   
5. Lots of External Battery Backs: I find the rapid proliferation of external battery packs somewhat depressing. Battery life is an example of where technology is moving way too slow. They were everywhere at #ELI2015, as running out of juice at a learning tech conference is almost worse than running out of oxygen. The technological moonshot that we need is true all day battery life. Why hasn’t anyone invented wearable battery backs?   Life would be simpler if my external battery packs were seamlessly integrated into my shirt, my pants, my shoes and my hat.   
What tech did you see at #ELI2015?
What will be the big device story of #ELI2016?


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