The smartphone is an amazing invention, and they are becoming an increasingly bigger part of our lives every day. Some of us remember the time when there were no smartphones at all, even in prospect, some don’t, but they’ve come a long way since the first cellphone call made by the Motorola inventor Martin Cooper to his rival. The device he used was a brick-sized, 2.5 lb. object with a 20-minute battery life. It took the mobile phones another 10 years to be granted FCC approval and go into the commercial market, still about as heavy and huge as the prototype.
It didn’t become common until the late 1990s, or, more precisely, 1999, when the first truly popular cell phone, the legendary Nokia 3210 was released, selling over 150 million devices all over the world. Then came the real mobile phone boom – in 2012 the number of mobile service subscriptions grew to 6 billion, which is the vast majority of the population of our planet.
iPhone brought the touchscreen technology to the mass market, then the devices have gotten sleeker, their screens – larger, and the batteries – more powerful. The number of applications available for business, everyday activities like shopping or banking, and just pure fun is beyond belief. So, what does the future hold for this device, which is beginning to take over so many functions that it will soon know us better than we know ourselves?
The future of the mobile phone
Let’s give our imagination a chance – along with the experts’ forecasts.
First of all, let’s discuss battery life, which is the major current limitation of any smartphone’s capabilities. Even though manufacturers are coming up with ways to increase battery capacity all the time, the extra apps that they simultaneously pack into the device eat up the increased capacity. This is supposed to change, as there are several crucial upgrades coming up in the foreseeable future. The currently researched options include lithium-oxygen batteries, motion charging, solar power (including solar clothing), recycling the energy wasted by a phone, self-healing batteries, supercapacitor batteries, etc.
Safer than ever
What about security? Everyone is increasingly concerned with it, since the amount of personal data that our smartphones hold is incredible, and, should it end up in the wrong hands, it may become a real threat. Well, iPhone is planning to implement a Biometric capture for unauthorized user identification feature, which would capture fingerprints, or video, photo or audio footage when an attempt to steal the phone is made, and transmit it to company servers. Another security feature that will probably become standard on iPhones is the attack detection mode, and the attack it refers to is an actual real-life event, such as a car crash or a physical attack. The app will be able to detect a dangerous situation and automatically make a call to a preset number or a general emergency number.
Brain to phone
This is already the case, and the trend is likely to grow further – our smartphones are becoming the command headquarters for all other devices in our lives. Fitness trackers, health monitors, a vast range of smart home devices (security monitors, smoke detectors, thermostat controls, front door locks and even remote fish feeders) and much, much more can be controlled via your smartphone already. Banking and shopping, dating and working are all already linked to our smartphones. What the experts believe we are clearly moving towards are thought controlled-devices. Sounds like it’s straight out of science fiction, but, even though it’s not about to go mass-market tomorrow, it is likely to be implemented in the foreseeable future. There are already over 1000 people with prosthetic arms that are controlled via brain-computer interfaces, and while a smartphone is a device far more complex than a prosthetic limb, the technology is already there, it just needs to be improved and fine-tuned.
A number of new materials is being developed for greater durability, screen resolution is coming up to a point where the difference is impossible to discern with human eye, but there are some other interesting screen-related developments, such as self-healing screens, as well as 3D and hologram displays.
If we consider the possibility of implanting a device into our body, which will be connected to our brain and, in turn, to a retinal display, it will allow to exchange information with other people in a truly telepathic manner. This is about as far as our imagination allows us to go today, but surely, there will be even more amazing developments, and we’re likely to see them in our lifetime.