Finally a PC that Every Designer has Dreamed About!

File under:
Industrial Design

Written by Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)
Jan 26, 2008



Check out this very clever Napkin PC designed by Avery Holleman that is perfect for collaborating designers. Using e-ink and RF technology it allows designers to draw in colour and skip the very tedious stage of transferring the sketch into a digital format.

Just perfect. Hang on I said that already! But it really is, just perfect for designers and how we need our computers to function during our idea creation process.

Avery has done a great job illustrating the design in a scenario based presentation, so much so that I’ll let the images do the talking. (Note to Design Students: this is how a good scenario story board should be done!)










If anyone has a link to Avery’s website or portfolio please let me know?
Edit: Check out Avery’s other portfolio work here and fixed his mis-spelled name. Thanks Mike and apologies to Avery for the typo.

Via: My friends from Yanko Design

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Jan 26, 08 – 12:49 pm

Neeed……… Napkin……… PC…….. UUUNNNGGH…

Jan 27, 08 – 2:31 am

They’ve hit the nail on the head in every which way possible. I don’t think you could hit the nail on the head any better than that, in fact. That’s the machine I need running OS X.

It’s just a shame we’d still need to physically interface with it…but I suppose purely neurological interactions would take some of the fun away.

Jan 27, 08 – 2:27 pm

Excellent article!

Jan 28, 08 – 2:17 am

brilliant, but there is one problem-windows. Is has to be a mac! god damn I want one!!!!

Jan 28, 08 – 1:41 pm

Concepts are getting interesting these days thats for sure.

Jan 28, 08 – 9:19 pm

Hi All,
Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments. I appreciate it.

@Powers, LOL! I did a homer too! Hmmm…Napkin Pccccc…hmmm…

@Neil, No kidding the concept is very sound and believable. Ah neurological interactions? Nah, I still want some “analogue” action in this, and that is what makes this concept so powerful.

@Fubiz, thanks!

@Tim, frankly I don’t think the way any PC is currently built, including the Mac, can do this. This needs a dedicated PC, custom specs, and custom software. And I agree with you, I so want one too!

@Justin, No kidding. As we have ultra realistic computer renderings, the only limitation is really our imaginations!

Jan 29, 08 – 12:58 am

This is incredible, its like a miniture Microsoft Surface…if only i could draw, then the possibilities would be endless. Great idea! :)

Jan 29, 08 – 5:26 am

I love it when asshole artists make models of ideas, like if they just think it up it will just happen and work. They have no concept of how much it takes to program and engineer such a thing, thus leaving the REAL designing to someone else.

Jan 29, 08 – 5:46 am

BTW don’t get excited thinking you’ll buy one of these, it will never get made, it’s just a drawing. And a totally unrealistic one at that. The screen goes right to the edge. Even our super advanced paper-thin screens have borders. It has no battery… What the fuck powers it, love and happiness? Actually it’s magic, the pen powers it wirelessly, which is fucking impossible. eInk requires no power to maintain an image but it does to change it.
Wait, that’s not even the dumbest part. All the people who are working together are right next to each other. If they had laptops they could just turn their laptop to show the other collaborators. Thus this invention is totally pointless.
-10 for an understanding of electronics worse than a third grader

Jan 29, 08 – 7:05 am

Hi Sdl,

I think you might need to study and understand the design process a little more. You might be surprised to know that the majority of design concepts all start out like this Napkin PC.

The idea of doing something as a concept is not about reality at all. In fact, a concept design phase often starts out with very little reality. At this stage, the only thing closest to reality is perhaps the size of the object in relation to the user. The objective of what is being conveyed here is a look and feel, a representation, and a exploration of an idea.

Now I do not doubt that such details as buttons, power, edge thickness are very important, but everything has its time and place. While a good designer can bring this into is work, many don’t for the risk of being stifled.

Focus on these details and engineering requirements, are introduced in the next round of concept refinements. Once a theme or direction has been selected, it will be tweaked or redesigned to match reality, and yet still keep its design intent.

From a management point of view, the reason why the design process is conducted this way is to prevent, as much as possible, products from looking all the same. Unfortunately most products today are very similar because there is just too much focus on using existing equipment or component layouts as you are suggesting.

Of cause if a designer is still insisting on getting that screen to the edge in the refinement or engineering stage, I will take issue with that, but for now, why not take a step back and enjoy the cleverness idea and perhaps allow yourself to dream a little?

On the side note, there are many instances of designers sketching on the same page or paper while working out an idea. Sitting together with individually but Wi-Fi connected screens updating the same information allows this to happen but still sitting comfortably in your own space.

Not so fast
Jan 29, 08 – 7:40 am

While concept is very important to driving creative new technologies, you like many others these days are placing far too much emphasis on the “design” and not on the realization. Everyone can dream of products that they wished were a reality, but only the truly talented can work to make such a reality. You are simply patting yourself on the back without ever accomplishing anything. I can draw a picture of myself flying around with only two bracelets to propel me, however that is no more influential towards independent personal flight than your “design” of a napkin PC is to creating wafer thin interactive screens.

Jan 29, 08 – 8:24 am

Hi Not so fast,

You give me too much credit. I did not design this Napkin PC. I have merely posted what I thought is an interesting idea, good presentation, and celebrating the fact that it is so.

While comparing this design to your “flying bracelets” is interesting though a bit extreme, I have to say the bracelets are an interesting idea…

I fully agree with you that there are many designers that tend to focus too much on the dreaming bit and fail to convert it to reality. To me these designers have very limited roles and scopes to play.

Fortunately, I am not one of them. Therefore I do hope you come back and visit more often, as this blog is all about bridging the gap between just “designing” and making a design a reality.

Furthermore if I may direct you to my Resource Articles section, you can see tons of great articles and tips on “how to do good design and make clever products”. Incidentally this is the discription of this blog.

Thanks for your comments and please keep in touch.

Edit: Typos fixed and links added.

Jan 29, 08 – 12:53 pm

wow…me want one…

Jan 29, 08 – 3:40 pm

some fyi on the project:

this is a student piece done for my senior industrial design studio class. the project was done specifically for the upcoming Microsoft next gen pc contest, hence the operating system and free use of technology that is just barely on the fringe of reality, think 5-10 years.

definitely a concept piece and with only a 4 week time line, so i tried to fully explain the concept as much as possible but did not need to get into any engineering beyond basic configurations.

thx for the comments, its cool to get feedback.

Jan 29, 08 – 4:54 pm

hi Not so fast,

I already invented the flying bracelet technology. Don’t you try and steal my idea!


Jan 30, 08 – 2:21 am

“What the fuck powers it, love and happiness? Actually it

Blogging Squared
Jan 30, 08 – 5:40 am

“Napkin PC” Great concept! Now, when can I order one :)

Angela Parker
Jan 30, 08 – 10:58 am

I’m loving this design concept. And just a few short years ago (at least recently in my ancient mind) solar powered calculators were amazing, and latex keyboards that “wrap” up like this napkin PC were not possible. Now I use both of those and think nothing of it.

I like the idea, personally, of the napkin PC, but I like all mobile concepts.

Design is the freedom to dream.

And sometimes, when we are really determined and equally lucky… that dream becomes a reality.

Jan 31, 08 – 7:53 pm

you are all idiots…

this is a joke yeah???
why would engineering be a problem….
its afucking napkin and a pen you dorks
the dude is obviously winding you all up!!!!

oooh oooh I hope its a mac… lame ass!!!!….

Feb 03, 08 – 7:48 pm

All great ideas have to start somewhere – ideas on a paper napkin are the natural outcome of four to six cocktails.
Can you incorporate a beer cooler?
Note: I *have* a USB Beer cooler – maybe too much current for inductive power.

P.S. If you think there are engineering problems here – try making a quantum computer

Feb 04, 08 – 10:18 am

The story is very neatly designed and told. I can imagine that the idea of the pen powering the e-ink surface would actually work, too.

But… that would just give you an e-ink notepad, not a PC. How do you get the rest of the screen (like the background photos) drawn onto the napkin?

[…] narrow or baggy, … – Last Updated – 11 hours ago  Request a Trackback Finally a PC that Every Designer has Dreamed About! Check out this very clever Napkin PC designed by Avery Hollerman that is perfect for collaborating […]

Feb 11, 08 – 11:11 am

I think being free to imagine and dream is important. But sometimes i think designers are too obsess with the presentations etc to the product itself. The presentations are important to get sales but it’s the thinking and detailings of the product that really makes a product good.

This concept obviously done by a designer for designer obviously has nice rendering, presentations and ideas. But obviously lacks serious thinking behind, as agree by the designer himself. Are we assuming that every single table will be having induce powering? For this moment induce powering can only generate very small amount of energy, yes the e-paper he was talking about requires relatively low energy, but it’s due to the lack of need to maintain energy when the display is unchange. when constantly changing, it is another story altogether. My main question is how does the tablet works and get it’s power from? It seems that it’s presence wasn’t considered in the napkin design, thus making it so thin and flexible.

anyway one of the issue with induced powering(Electro Magnetic Waves) now is that it totally screwed up RF signal….the very principle this design is based on. Ok go assume that we can solve this in 10 years time. Hmmm then everyone can have the rights to assume anything in the future. No?

Derek Lackey
Mar 15, 08 – 10:41 am

For God’s sake, don’t let my clients see this!

Apr 15, 08 – 1:37 am

[…] kada nors kompiuteriai visai nebus pana

Jul 18, 08 – 7:08 am

im a student in the industrial design program at auburn. i promise you,, this is exactly the kind of stuff they are giving A’s for. they teach designers in indd. not engineers, the engineering, well thats across campus. frankly, i think indd should work more with the engineers, but it doesnt work that way. wish id have thought of it.

Oct 16, 08 – 4:36 am

I love the idea. I don’t think inductive power is practical for this application however. There is a further issue of getting the data from the napkin to the main unit (maybe I missed it).

As a concept, its wonderful. So instead of just bashing Avery, lets help him develop it a little more, ie why can’t he use inductive charging? Are there other ways of applying power, like a quick/easy connector system? How about foil batteries that increase the thickness a little bit? Is there anything on the horizon besides e-ink that could be used as a display with less power requirements?

Dec 01, 08 – 5:10 am

Wow that’s a really cool concept. You never know in the future it could come to reality. But hey guys as I read through this stuff there is a lot of positive stuff but then there is all the flaming going on. Hey it’s an idea. You gotta start somewhere right? So quit flaming the designer and every one else. Just give your suggestions in a way that doesn’t demean the other guy. Or even better. If you think you know how to make the napkin work. DO IT. My props to the designer. If you ever get this thing fleshed out. I want one. It’s all about the thoughts. You gotta walk before you can run right? So good luck if the designer is carrying out on it with engineers. And to all you flamers out there. The comments are lame but the ideas and advice that can be taken out are great.

Jan 19, 09 – 10:14 pm

At least he posted something, why be mean about it. if you think you can improve then get off your arse and do it.

May 21, 09 – 10:11 pm

Avery – Rock on man, I had to do a doubletake to see you’re a student – awesome thinking, great design, excellent presentation

sdl – dude your life must be so full of shit, it’s spilling over. Here are some quick practical suggestions for you:
1. Take a breath, chill out, stop talking, smell the clean air
2. Drop the type A personality thing, it’ll kill you sooner
3. RESPECT other’s work and opinions
4. If you’re going to critisize do it constructively
5. See if you can actually learn something from others

Now that you’re all relaxed and smooth we can talk

May 31, 11 – 11:15 am

The technology behind this PC design is simply amazing. I really want one.

Oct 19, 11 – 7:47 pm

I would love to get my hand on that PC. It really looks awesome.

[…] 3. The “Napkin PC“ […]

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