Solu: Innovative Personal & Social Computing Ecosystem

Posted Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Innovation by Patricia Seybold

I've fallen in love with a new computer from Solu Machines in Finland. I suspect that you will too. This pocket computer was unveiled on October 15th in Helsinki and San Francisco. It is the first truly innovative computing platform and ecosystem that I've seen in a long time. The company's ambition is to displace Apple, Microsoft or Google as one of the top three computing companies. I can actually foresee that happening, and I love the idea of how disruptive Solu will be to the "traditional" computing and mobile phone industries. In fact, I have already pre-ordered my Solu on Kickstarter. You can, too. Maybe we can pioneer this new social computing frontier together.

Solu Machines' New Pocket Computer

The new Solu pocket computer. Every node is a project. Any nodes that have lines connecting them are securely shared with other people.

What customer problems does Solu solve?

  • It doesn't matter if you lose it. All your content is securely backed up in the cloud. Just buy a new pocket computer and you're back to where you were.
  • You don't need to buy and download and/or upgrade apps anymore. You don't have to upgrade apps, or upgrade your operating system; Solu is a cloud-based solution; everything is always the most current version.

New User Interface for real time collaboration

  • You can use it locally and offline. If you have no Internet connection, don't worry. You still have a fully-functioning powerful computer in the palm of your hand. You can continue working on all your projects. When you're back online everything will be synched and shared with anyone you wanted to share it with.

Two Solo Users Sharing Files without Internet Connection

At the San Francisco announcement, CEO and founder Kristoffer Lawson (left) and head of design, Joona Kallio (right), tried to share projects without Internet connectivity. As the Internet came back, everything immediately synched up.

You don't have to figure out where to put things or how to organize them.You work in projects on your own, or with other people.

  • You don't have to carry any other computer with you. All you need is the Solu in your pocket, along with a power cord, if you're travelling. You can plug your Solu into any computer with a USB Type C cable. It will now become the computer you are using, it will display on the larger screen, and the Solu will act as your trackpad or your game controller.

Plug Solu into any computer

  • You can still access "conventional" applications and files from your old computer; For example, you can still use productivity apps on your computer and hook those artifacts into your Solu projects. Anything that runs on Android will also run on Solu.

Playing a Game wih Solu

  • Everything you create is encrypted in the device itself (using convergent encryption). Anything you share with others is encrypted as well. Solu explains it this way: "If you want to connect with a colleague or friend in a highly secure way, you connect your Solu with your friends by putting them physically together. The devices exchange security keys with each other, using the physical proximity to secure the key exchange from eavesdroppers. If you do not place such high requirements for security, you can use e-mail, Facebook, or some other existing online relationship to connect with your friends," family members or colleagues.

The Solu User Interface: Bubbles=Projects

  • Nobody else can unencrypt your data and the Solu Cloud is not in the U.S. Since the Solu cloud is in Finland, the US government does not have legitimate access to your data, and your data is encrypted, so it would take them a while. Solu doesn't tout "freedom from NSA surveillance" as a value prop, but they do say: "When you store your data in the Solu cloud, it is technically impossible for Solu Machines (Company), or anybody else, to access your data without the encryption keys. By default, your encryption keys are kept in the device itself and backed up in to Solu cloud under a password selected by you. However, if you are security conscious, you can backup the keys manually somewhere else. For example, you can backup the encryption keys to a USB stick and keep the stick in a safe."

Solu Control Panel

  • There's no limit to what apps you can use or how much data you can store. You pay a fixed fee (about $22) every month which entitles you to as much data as you need and all the apps that you are using.

The Solu Machines Ecosystem

Solu is developer friendly. Developers are paid monthly based on the number of people who use their apps and the amount of time they are used. Solu takes the $20/month it earns from each user and allocates a portion of that revenue to each application developer whose applications are being used. There's no need to have a free and a paid version. Open source applications will earn as much money as "proprietary" applications.

Founder Kristoffer Lawson explains Solus OS

Solu ProjectsThe new Solu OS uses a Linux kernel and will support legacy Android apps. Developers who want to be able to have applications that can be shared by Solu users and non-Solu users can do so by developing their HTML5 applications to straddle operating systems.

There are two good videos that will give you a better feel for the product. The first is a 3.28 minute video from Solus and a longer one from a TechCrunch interview.

Disruptive Innovation!

I love the vision and the promise of pocket + cloud computing that is developed fresh, from scratch, without the legacy baggage from any of our existing ecosystems. I can see many of us using Solu at first as a parallel system, but soon gravitating to doing most of our work on it. And, I love the fact that Solu presumes that people are social animals. Even when you want to work heads down and uninterrupted, you eventually want to share your work products with others. Solu will make that ridiculously easy.

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