At Synergy ViewSonic recently announced the first of what could be the next generation of thin clients. In addition Dell demonstrated an ARM based USB/MHL stick running Android that can be plugged into a Display or TV effectively enabling it as a thin client.

For an existing task-based thin client use case, the new Android devices may not be obvious. But consider the broader use cases and industry trends. These new devices may change the way we look at thin clients, including what to call them.

Think about these scenarios:

Most new app development is now mobile first. The ability to run native Android apps in addition to existing windows apps and virtual desktops will be increasingly appealing.

Smart Displays in hoteling office workspaces can run as standalone Android thin clients, or allow a PC/Mac to plug in and use as an extended display.

The Smart Display makes a great device for small meetings and collaboration, Instead of turning around a laptop and pointing to the screen, The Smart Display provides a great display to swipe though a PowerPoint or pull up a web site.

Most knowledge workers workstations include a standard display for a multi-monitor setup. Why not make it a Smart Display that can function the same way or serve as an Android touch device, or windows virtual desktop.

Digital signage continues to grow beyond just retail situations. Having Smart Displays that can run online or off and managed remotely has become paramount to a number of businesses.

Touch screen Kiosks are also finding homes in more places like hospitals and elsewhere. Again native apps and remote management can provide an ideal solution.

Android is also replacing Linux as the embedded OS of choice driven by the volumes of Mobile devices. It’s also showing up in cars, refrigerators, toys, etc. As a result CPU vendors are providing optimized drivers for Android as a top priority.

For manageability the ViewSonic Smart Display comes preloaded with XenMobile. Right out of box the unit boots to the Enrollment app that only needs an email address to configure the Smart Display remotely by IT identically to the mobile devices they are already managing.

So if you were wondering how Android thin clients could make sense perhaps these new devices expand the possibilities. It may even be time to not call them thin clients anymore.