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A tool is something we use to complete a specific task. Thus it follows that any tool that can be used for more than one task is a better tool and more suited to survive the test of time. Like the Swiss Army Knife, there are many famous examples of this, typically with five to ten tools in it. Other, more crazy versions have sought to include as many as absolutely possible. One of the higher-end versions contains 85 different tools.
The process becomes a debate on where usability becomes an issue of design. As in the case of these tools, electronics have slowly performed a similar approach. As time has gone on, different peripherals have grown and combined to take on the functions and abilities of both. The moment computers came out on a personal level, they needed keyboards to provide data input. While initially attached to the system, it was later pushed to being connected by a wire for interchangeability. This would also eventually be replaced, closer to today, with onscreen keyboards.
While this means that if the screen were to be damaged that the whole device would need fixing or replacing, it told that both are sold as one unit with a lower average price. For a time, people working on graphical design projects or artwork on a computer, in general, would use special pads to reproduce the same level of quality of drawing as that on a typical surface. Similarly, this has transitioned to a phase in which touch screens can handle the input in similar ways.
A stylus can be used to enhance the effect and provide a much more accurate design medium as well. Does this combining sort of multi-tool culture push groups towards making the most advanced and general devices able to do the broadest range of things?
Many would argue that it is a driving force behind the sales of new devices. If new features can not be created, why not adapt to the current hardware for not supported features? Most people are aware of the portability that tablets and phones provide. Sometimes they do not offer the capabilities that a group needs. This need led to the development of laptops able to flex almost 360 degrees around the hinge to close in a reverse fashion, making the laptop more like a tablet in use. Even things like the scanner, printer, and fax machines have been combined into an all-in-one device. It is easy to see the need and use of this in different venues, but it can be a little upsetting how fast this occurs.
It is not a far-fetched thought that sees phones with scan/print/fax capabilities, all while running as cameras, message/calling devices, virtual reality headsets, projectors, personal identification, and more.
This also begs the question of when this multi-tool mentality begins being applied to people. It is already common to seek outhires that are talented on multiple fronts instead of hiring several people for each part. It saves money while also ensuring that the company can handle many different problems that may arise. Some people are considered too overqualified in these fashions, leaving them in the same position as overly filled multi-tools.
This is not to say they are a terrible fit, but too much makes a person seem more upward bound than some are willing to hire.
Furthermore, where is the line on modifying the human body with new tools or genes to make it more effective? A future filled with bionic humans is also not far-fetched. Some believe that this is purely due to the culture of multi-tool that has been developed by so many over time. Whatever the outcome, it will be interesting to see as time goes on how much things are condensed.
Written by Gavin Bluthe / June 18, 2015