The Future of Mobile, Part 1:
A Plethora of Awesome
Last year, USA Today said that smartphones had reached saturation among millennials. The Telegraph reported on the same milestone in China, there are 675 million mobile users that account for 1.3 billion mobile subscriptions. Now that mobile usage has come of age, what might the future hold?
Already, these devices have established themselves as an all-purpose lingua franca tool for business, living, recreation, you name it. You can use your smartphone to manage finances, borrow money from a friend, see your doctor for a telehealth checkup, monitor your fitness, order out, call a car, curate your reading list and find entertainment. There’s no reason to believe it will end there. On the contrary, it’s certain that the role our smartphones play will only expand in the future.
This January, the Irish Examiner published a breathless litany on what that future might look like. While some of their predictions seem a bit far-fetched, others are already coming to pass. Here are our top ten.
Could the future look like this?
1. Better basics. Let’s start with the obvious. Smartphone batteries are improving; so is screen resolution. The glass may get better, too, now that manufacturers are exploring the possibilities of graphene, a sheet of carbon only one atom thick. Pound for pound, it’s 100 times stronger than steel.
2. Bendy, snappy bodies. Especially if graphene becomes a thing, we may get flexible phones that we can bend around our wrists. Other manufacturers are pursuing a snap-apart design that could be dismantled piece by piece, so you can replace or upgrade individual components.
3. Digital jewelry. Dick Tracy had a radio in his wristwatch. But if you’re bending your smartphone around your arm, you have so much more than that. Or what about a pin lapel, such as they used on the Starship Enterprise? If you prefer actual jewelry, maybe a smartphone earring stud would suit you better.
4. Wireless charging. Everything is wireless – except for charging. For now. But if wireless charging comes to be, you could set your phone down anywhere and watch it power up.
5. Geo-specific fact-finding. Point your phone at something and learn a lot about it. Thanks to augmented reality, you can use your phone to get a live view of something, coordinate your location and direction with GPS, and overlay it with a whole lot of data … just as if you were the Terminator.
6. Geo-specific ads. Opt into location-based notifications from your favorite retailers, and they could tell you about deals you’d be missing otherwise as you’re walking or driving around.
7. Head-up display (HUD). Think smart glasses. Or imagine a smartphone without the screen. This type of display projects information directly onto your field of view. In itself, this is not a new technology: for years, pilots have been able to monitor data on the windshields of fighter jets without having to look down at an instrument panel. What if the same were true of your car’s windshield? More wildly, what if your smartphone screen were a contact lens? If smartphones replaced their screens with HUD, they could potentially ditch the big battery, and get by with just a microphone and an earpiece.
8. Holograms. Speaking of HUD, how about holograms? The technology you’d need to project someone into the room, rather than hearing only their voice or interacting with them onscreen, is basically set. As the prices for these technologies fall, holograms may become a reality.
9. Virtual reality. As long as we’re speculating about holograms, we have to give a nod to time travel. Okay, not literally. But with a 3D virtual reality headset, such as are being developed now for gamers, it’s conceivable that in the future, you could walk around any city in the time period of your choice.
10. Sentient computers. We had to get to this eventually, didn’t we? Siri has become the voice of many smartphones. Who knows - perhaps one of these days, she’ll start thinking for herself.
Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll delve into some of the questions and implications that surround innovations like these. And in the meantime, if the future of mobile inspires you to explore smartphone telematics, download our Fact Sheet to learn more about Driveway Software.