Neptune Suite: A Taste of What Computing Should Be in 2025

When Neptune launched its grand idea for upending the smartphone ecosystem, many of the responses boiled down to: Huh?

Sure, the idea sounded downright radical: Instead of having a smartphone that streamed to other devices like a smart watch, the Neptune Hub and Pocket were created with the opposite relationship in mind. First, there was Hub, a smartwatch powerful enough to run apps, take calls, and send messages. Then, there was pocket, a relatively dumb screen that fit in your pocket, like a smartphone—but wouldn’t be much more than an input device, when called for. “Most of the negativity was from people that don’t see this as a first start,” says Simon Tian, the 20-year-old founder of Neptune. “They thought we were just going to stop at the pocket screen.”

They’re not. Today, Neptune is launching what they call the Suite, a additional group of devices meant to augment the Hub. Rather that just the Android-powered Hub and Pocket, there’s now the Tab, a tablet which comes with an attachable keyboard. There’s also a dongle that’ll stream to your TV, and a set of wireless earbuds that you can wear around your neck, and which cleverly doubles as a charging cord. It’s all selling for the price originally announced for the Hub and Pocket: $899 at retail, or a couple hundred less if you pre-order via Neptune’s just-launched Indiegogo campaign.

Working with industrial design firm Pearl, Neptune has already done much of the industrial design and component planning required to start intensive tooling and testing. Moreover, Neptune has now revealed that the core technology that makes all this work is something called WiGig, a new wireless protocol that allows streaming from the Hub to all the other devices at speeds up to 7 gigs per second—which Neptune claims will create latency too small for anyone to notice, unlike previous streaming protocols.

Now, it’s just a matter of funding and proving that there’s a market for such a novel experiment in computing.

Swinging Big

Tian isn’t shy about what Neptune is supposed to become. As he writes on their Indiegogo page:

This is only the beginning of a whole new computing era. Imagine a world where devices are so commoditized that they’re just part of the environment. They can be everywhere; in your home, at the office, in your car, in restaurants, shopping malls, schools… Need a screen? Simply find one and use it as yours.

Devices are also a lot more easier to design and produce, enabling product designers and manufacturers to potentially create an infinite variety of devices. Screens can be embedded into household appliances, cars, walls, and much more. Everything will become smart, by simply becoming accessories for your wrist.

This vision actually has precedent in the annals of computer science. In the early 1990s, Mark Weiser was arguing that computers would become ubiquitous tools found everywhere in our environment. Rather than being personal computers, they would mold themselves to the needs and personal preferences of whomever was using them at the time. This was the original thinking that preceded Minority Report and Her by many years: You’d walk into a room, the computers in it would know who you are, and you’d be able to resume whatever stream of work or play that you’d been involved with.

The Neptune Suite is probably the first time that someone has been either far-sighted enough—or crazy enough—to make that impersonal computing ideal a reality. Indeed, perhaps the biggest UX insight behind their idea is that the continuity problems that bedevil our digital lives simply go away if a single, wearable computer becomes a central computing node. No more synching between your tablet and phone. No more weird transitions, as you try to recreate internet searches or migrate photos or profiles from one device to another. Moreover, the entire ecosystem gets cheaper overall, when all of your screens aren’t simply duplicating each other’s computing power.

The technology seems ready, or least very close to being so. It makes you wonder whether Apple, Samsung and the like might start tinkering as well, or if Neptune has enough of a head start to launch a relatively tiny, but nonetheless radical product right under their noses.

Baboon friends swap gut germs

The warm soft folds of the intestines are teeming with thousands of species of bacteria. Collectively known as the gut microbiome, these microbes help break down food, synthesize vitamins, regulate weight and resist infection.

If they're so key to health, what factors shape an individual's gut microbial makeup?

Previous studies have pointed to the food we eat, the drugs we take, genetics, even our house dust. Now, a new study in baboons suggests that relationships may play a role, too.

The researchers studied social interactions, eating habits and bacteria in the feces of 48 wild baboons from two groups living near Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya. Their findings appear in the March 16 issue of the journal eLife.

"Poop contains a goldmine of data," said Duke University biologist Jenny Tung, who co-authored the study. "Ninety-eight percent of the DNA in poop doesn't come from the animal itself or the foods they eat -- it's bacterial."

Using powerful sequencing machines to tease out each microbe's unique genetic signature, the researchers identified the names and relative amounts of nearly 1,000 bacterial species thriving in the baboons' bowels.

The cast of characters includes relatively high levels of Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes -- all of which are also commonly found in human guts.

Baboons from the same troop had more similar gut microbes than baboons from different troops.

The results are consistent with previous studies in humans showing that people who live together harbor similar gut germs. The connection has largely been attributed to couples and housemates eating many of the same foods in the same relative proportions, but Tung and co-author Elizabeth Archie of the University of Notre Dame and colleagues wondered if additional factors might be at play.

To find out, the researchers recorded what the animals ate -- a menu of grass seeds and stems, acacia seed pods, fruits and leaves.

They also noted when the baboons in each group hung out in close proximity to each other without physical contact, and measured how often they groomed each other.

They found that, in both groups, baboons who groomed each other more often shared more similar sets of gut microbes.

How friendly two baboons were to each other was a better predictor of how alike their gut bacterial communities were than whether they merely hung out in the same places, were related, or what they ate.

How fecal bacteria find their way from a baboon's colon to her fur and from there to another baboon's gut is unclear, but the researchers have a few ideas.

"When baboons groom each other they're combing through each other's fur for parasites, dirt, dead skin. Sometimes they pull things off and put them in their mouths," Archie said.

"Males and females also spend a lot of time grooming close to the genital area during estrous," Tung said.

Hugging and cuddling and other forms of physical contact could play a role in allowing people to swap gut germs, too, the researchers say, especially after touching surfaces such as bathroom sinks and toilet handles.

"This is another way that social relationships can influence your health," Archie said. "Not only are relationships important for the transmission of harmful bacteria like the ones that cause pneumonia or strep throat, but they're important for the transmission of microbes that are harmless or potentially good for you, too."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

$20M Worth of Classic Cars From an Extravagant Auction

1 / 10

To avoid paying heavy taxes on a new car, the Finnish buyer of this 1955 D-Type asked Jaguar to make the car appear used, so the company added an old steering wheel, adjusted the odometer, and more. In what must have been an awesome sight, the car was used for ice racing and is one of the most original D-Types in the world. $3,675,000 RM Sotheby's

2 / 10

This Jaguar XJR-9, chassis 388, was the third XJR-9 completed, participating in a number of IMSA GTP endurance races in 1988, including at Daytona, Miami, Road Atlanta and others. It won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1990 and finally ended its career by taking third later that year at the 12 Hours of Sebring. $2,145,000 Tim Scott/RM Sotheby's

3 / 10

The 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider, is one of 121 Spiders to come from the factory and of the most desirable convertible Ferraris ever built. The V12 makes an "incredible" exhaust note thanks in part to the open-air experience. This version is Ferrari Classiche certified, restored by Ferrari itself. $3,300,000 Robin Adams/RM Sotheby's

4 / 10

This 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV was the first of its kind to enter the US, a prototype intended to be tested by the EPA. The car made the first public Miura appearance in the country, at the Boston Auto Show. After going through several owners, the car has since been restored to original condition. $2,310,000 RM Sotheby's

5 / 10

When Carroll Shelby had trouble selling a few hundred 427 Cobra chassis to racing teams, he used them to make a street-legal version of the car. Marketed as the fastest street car ever built, the 427 Semi-Competition could accelerate from 0 to 100MPH and back to 0 in a still-incredible 13.2 seconds. $2,117,500 Ryan Merrill/RM Sotheby's

6 / 10

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL "Gullwing" coupe is one of the most beautiful cars ever built. Naturally, so is the drop-top version. This Fire Engine Red 1961 300 SL Roadster has been owned by a series of enthusiasts that actually drove the car, putting a total of 63,000 miles on her. We'd welcome her in the WIRED garage. $962,500 RM Sotheby's


7 / 10

One of only 84 left-hand-drive 1968 Toyota 2000GT's, this car was built to goose the company's staid reputation as a designer of conservative econoboxes. Intertwining design and performance, the 2000GT produced 150 horsepower, impressive on a car weighing just 2,400 pounds. It remains a beauty, even today. $880,000 Anthony Bellemare/RM Sotheby's

8 / 10

This 1995 Ferrari F512 M graced the bedroom posters of many an adolescent growing up in the mid 90s. Only 75 of the 501 units built came to the US, and this one, with just 11,000 miles on the odo, includes all the owner's manuals and books, as well as the original tool set, adding to the appeal. $462,000 RM Sotheby's

9 / 10

This 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500/540 K Cabriolet A was purchased by a Cpt. Dean Weihe of the US Air Force, who brought it home in 1961. Fully restored in 2000, the car has been well-cared for. One of only 33 built, and thought to be 1 of 11 surviving, the car can still handle the long-distance touring for which it was built. $3,025,000 RM Sotheby's

10 / 10

Given the current popularity of the new Fiat 500, it's good to remember where the car came from. This 1952 Fiat 500C Topolino is considered by some to be the most popular, stylish, and best-loved small car of its era. With a 16-horsepower 34.9 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine, and a top-speed of 59mph, this 500 is a (slightly) more affordable classic. $52,250 RM Sotheby's