Imagining the smartphone of the future

old-and-new-cell-phones

Cell phones have undergone a continuous evolution since the DynaTAC 8000x made its debut in 1983 — when millions of iPhone and Android users weren’t yet born.

The DynaTAC was the size of a shoe, with a thick, inflexible antenna protruding from the top. It had enough battery to power a 30-minute conversation. Oh, and since this was the pre-Internet era, the DynaTAC was just a phone, good only for making and receiving calls. No texting, no YouTube, no Instagram. No solitaire, even.

That’s a far cry from what most mobile users experience today. The average smartphone “is millions of times more powerful than all of NASA’s combined computing in 1969,” ZME Science writes. Think about that: When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon, they lacked the technology firepower for a simple lunar selfie. Instead, they were reduced to absorbing through their own senses something wondrous, something never before witnessed by other humans; to pondering the vastness of the universe, the miracle of life, the significance of the moment for all of mankind and the insignificance of mankind itself. Just experiencing the moment. It’s hard not to feel bad for them.

But we’re here to look ahead, not lament karmic injustices. Getting back to mobile phones, it’s easy to look at earlier generations of mobile devices — the Motorola StarTAC, various Nokias, the BlackBerry with its clacky little keyboard — with some bemusement. It’s also tempting to think the current mobile device form factors are the final word in design.

They’re not. Indeed, there’s plenty wrong with modern smartphone design. For starters, they’re cold, hard slabs of metal, plastic and glass. During those rare moments when you’re actually using your device to conduct a phone call, it feels like you’re putting your face up against a toilet seat. Or so I would imagine.

They’re also easy to drop, slightly too big to hold for many users, fragile, often inclined to age-out quickly . . . you all know the usual problems with smartphones. Which means manufacturers that want to sell mobile devices will try to make their products easier and more comfortable to use, more convenient, more durable and with more features. So what will the smartphones of the future look like?

ZDNet takes a stab at answering that question in a slide show titled “What features does the smartphone of the future need?” First on their list of features the smartphone of the future needs is:

Life streaming. Your phone will automatically record every aspect of your life through camera, microphone, and location. It will log every activity you do so that the whole of your life can be reviewed to predict your future actions.

Insurance companies and healthcare providers will then be able to predict how your life will play out, based on big data analysis of your past activities.

No thanks, Big Brother!

Other features envisioned by ZDNet for the smartphones of the future include ubiquitous mobile payments, voice and facial recognition and remote control of home devices — all of which already exist on some phones. Of more interest is ZDNet’s prediction about the shape of future mobile devices.

“Your phone as a physical object will change form dramatically,” ZDNet writes. “From flexible screens to wearable projectors that project images onto your skin, the physical form factor of your phone will change from its current shape and become part of you. Microchip implants under your skin that respond to your voice could become the next version of our communication devices.”

That sounds a whole lot better than the cold, slippery toilet slabs we’re living with now, though I’d like some assurances that the microchip implants under our skin can’t be used to track us, brainwash us or read our minds.

It’s also worth noting that Apple and Samsung are set to unveil curved (iPhone 11) and foldable (Galaxy X) smartphones, respectively. Worthwhile iterations, if not disruptive.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning also will find a home in the smartphones of the future. As Futurism writes:

Almost every major player in the smartphone industry now says that their devices use the power of artificial intelligence (AI), or more specifically, machine learning algorithms. Few devices, however, run their own AI software. That might soon change: Thanks to a processor dedicated to machine learning for mobile phones and other smart-home devices, AI smartphones could one day be standard.

Finally, we can expect wireless charging to be common, including in public. As someone who panics when his smartphone battery falls below 70%, I welcome this technological advance.

What do you think the smartphone of the future will look like? What features should it have? Feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

Comments

  1. nice post!

    Like

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