Cloud may finally go cosmic. Razer just released their Cloud Synapse 2.0 to a select few 500 Naga users for beta testing. The new Synapse 2.0 for PCs promises to let you take your Razer keyboard and mice and go wherever you want to go. All the software, downloadable drivers and your personal configurations will follow you anywhere you have access to a PC. While a limited amount of this is already available the new system will automatically sync all of your custom settings and take the lid off the customization of peripheral devices. Firmware updates and additional add-ons will also always be automatically up to date.
With gaming systems constantly confronted with the big black wall of hardware limitations and compatibility issues, Razer’s Synapse 2.0 Cloud based peripheral settings could be the start of a whole new world in gaming and in the larger world of computer customization.
Personalized settings are important to any serious gamer and sending the settings to the cloud removes the limitations that have always been dictated by hardware. Razer built their company on peripheral customization by outfitting their devices with the capability to store macros, profiles and key binds. Razer products quickly surpassed the simple dumb mouse and keyboard to become the devices of choice for serious gamers. Seeing Razer take the leap to Cloud is a move to pay attention to.
What is most interesting about this entire new generation of Razer devices is where Cloud based peripheral and personalized settings will go from here. Personalized settings have always been somewhat limited by the confines of hardware and the expense of outfitting everything at a profitable price point.
Many of the newest trends in computers and software start in gaming. Should Razer’s Cloud based Synapse 2.0 be as easy and effective as they are claiming, Cloud could morph into a complex highway which expands the Cloud beyond the simple glorified Dropbox storage model we have all become so comfortable with.
The applications of personalized control systems through Cloud could extend to many mundane but practical applications such as storing personalized car seat and automobile settings in the Cloud to be downloaded instantly anytime you drive a rental car. Customized manufacturing (See David Anderson’s article Mass customization’s Missing Link, Mechanical Engineering, Apr 2011, Vol 133, 4:32-35 for a general overview) also takes on an instant appeal. Through the use of Cloud and peripherals, mass customization could become very real business models for everything from homes to clothing to kitchen utensils. Even items like cell phones could once again become public or hub based systems, but filled with all the personal and privacy settings we have all come to expect via a much cheaper and lighter peripheral device.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Razer’s next generation of Cloud devices has to do with Cloud’s Achilles heal, security. (see Tim Mather, Subra Kumaraswamy and Sahhed Latif, Cloud Security and Privacy: An Enterprise Perspective on Risks and Compliance: 59.) Razer’s devices will no doubt introduce a customized layer of security not to necessarily secure a player’s data so much as to build an economic mote around the products to protect the future sales of Razer devices.
Lastly, we can look to these devices to introduce a new era of increased sociability into gaming. With freedom to take all of your gaming settings with you wherever you go, the forlorn image of a gamer stuck playing solitarily in their basement may finally be coming to an end. While the rooms will still be dark until the next generation of screens makes it out of the labs in Taiwan, you will be able to take your settings anywhere to play with anyone. Who knows, Razer’s Cloud based devices might even end up creating real face time. Now how ironic is that?