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When I was ten years old, my mom would let me play a game on her brick-like Nokia. The game was simple: I had to move the rolling ball by clicking on buttons and I had to get the ball to the right spot. I remember I was mortified when I accidentally clicked the wrong button and sent the phone to sleeping mode. At that moment, I thought I forever destroyed it as the screen went all black.
We’ve come a long way with phones since the 2000ies. I don’t think my ten-year-old self would be able to comprehend the fact that I can catch Pokemon with AR and in my own neighborhood. But when it comes to predicting what a future phone will be like in twenty years, it’s actually quite real because we can rely on existing technology and the way it progresses. So let’s enjoy ourselves and indulge in making a few predictions on the state of future mobile phones in 2040 and further.
Star Trek, Dick Tracy, and more
Smartphones, as we know them now, were a big element of sci-fi pop culture back in the 1960ies. The first example that comes to mind is the flip phone that Leonard Nimoy’s character was using in Star Trek. So when Martin Cooper from Motorola introduced its first famous flip phone (that happened in the early 1970ies), many people immediately jumped to the conclusion that his invention was inspired by Star Trek.
Cooper, however, denied that and stated that he had been thinking about the concept of the flip phone way before Star Trek portrayed it on the screen. Cooper also said that if he were to choose a pop culture piece to bring to life, it would be the wristwatch communicator (hello, Apple Watch and Wear OS!) that a comics hero Dick Tracy used.
That brings us to the following point: we might already witness certain pop culture elements that might soon come to life, including smartphones. A great example is the movie “She”, where smart personal assistants were not only assisting but, in fact, making independent decisions and actually acting like human beings in terms of thinking and processing thoughts and emotions.
Technological advancement = smartphone advancement
The first big reason why smartphones are evolving so much is because of technological evolution. We became confident enough with AR and VR and we immediately came up with several ways to incorporate these technologies into smartphones and in our daily lives. GPS is now a core part of any smartphone and don’t even get me started on Bluetooth and 4G.
You can easily track how the progress of technology invokes new smartphone functionality. But for now, the technology is at the plateau and we don’t see strongly marked peaks of its progress. Instead, it develops in a steady and gradual manner so for now, there are no breakthroughs in smartphone development either. Sure, if we were to compare smartphones in 2010 and 2040, there would be many clear and impressive differences. But in my honest opinion, smartphones in 2030 will not differ much from the ones we use now though they will surely become more advanced and probably more ML-equipped.
Why Machine Learning? Because this technology powers lots of functions these days and is the heart of smart assistants. Hence, as ML gains traction and becomes more accurate, so will future mobile phones. We already have tiny Machine Learning – and that might be the base for a future phone.
Now, the next question is: what else impacts the evolution of smartphones in addition to technological advancement? The answer is, actually, we.
“Siri, book me a ticket”
On one hand, we would be perfectly okay with our phones being able to send and receive calls and messages only. On the other hand, it’s tempting to have a single device that combines entertainment, management of finances, taxi ordering, and many other functions that we can perform with a single tap. Therefore, one of the biggest factors that drive the development of smartphones is our laziness as well as short attention span and desire to spend as little time on certain activities as possible. This, combined with tech innovations, results in our smartphones being the center point of our lives and activities – and we might soon see smartphones evolving into Jarvis-like systems.
The future with Jarvis-like assistants is not so far away, actually. If you remember Iron Man movies, Tony Stark would use Jarvis for a great variety of activities: information search, modeling, managing home devices. And considering the fact that smart homes have become somewhat a new reality, it seems only natural that Jarvis-like systems will become common in twenty years or so.
The biggest bottleneck with developing our own Jarvis is the state of NLP (natural language processing) today. For now, its capabilities are not enough and data scientists experiment with various deep learning approaches to obtain the maximal accuracy of a machine understanding our speech. Once scientists tackle this issue, our phones will be one step closer to bringing us to Tony Stark (or any other superhero of your choice).
Synchronous translation in real-time
When talking about the progress of NLP, we can make the following prediction: what if the real-time synchronous translation will become a new way of communication? Imagine if there are two people speaking two different languages – but they can communicate freely because their devices not only recognize the speech but convert it into a suitable language. Sure, we have dictionaries and translators but we still need to wait for translation before replying to a person. So hopefully, the NLP development will reshape the way people from different countries communicate and it will erase the language barriers – if not completely, then partially, at least.
With great power, comes great responsibility
There are actually several pretty solid predictions on the possible state of smartphones ten years from now. They include foldables, the reborn of smart glasses and modulars, interconnectivity, ambient computing, and even cameras below the display. All this will be possible on the condition that a future phone becomes more powerful as loading them with fancy technologies will require much more computational power than they have now. But will it be ethical to provide smart devices with massive amounts of personal data? Guess we might know it only after trying.
Bonus: predictions from Eugene Suzko, SoftTeco’s Marketing Manager
It’s always exciting to make predictions about new technologies, considering how they have become the core part of our lives. To spice things up a bit, SoftTeco’s marketing manager Eugene offered his thoughts on the future of smartphones – and it’s worth checking out!
Crazy smartphone designs and shapes
Smartphone design adapts to our lifestyle and needs, and you can easily track this by looking at old phone models and comparing them to modern devices. Screens became bigger, modern design allows for easier grip, and etc. So future mobile phones will most likely be designed to better fit into our everyday routines.
By that, I mean earphones, triangular phones, or even morph phones that can be turned into a wrist band, if needed. So instead of staying in one shape, a future phone will be transforming into the ones we need the most at a specific time.
Powerful technologies that will turn the impossible into reality
We all know that the capabilities of modern smartphones depend on modern technologies. So it’s logical to assume that if technology takes one step forward, smartphones will follow.
If I were to draw some predictions, they’d include:
- More powerful CPUs (and therefore, more powerful apps);
- Quantum batteries (I mean, why not?);
- Battery charge from the air (or from sunlight, or from another natural source);
- Projection screens.
You can actually go on and on here because there is plenty of room for imagination when talking about technology development. However, I think these predictions are the ones most likely to happen simply because they are based on the existing technologies.
New and unexpected uses for smartphones
Okay, so we all know that the primary use cases for smartphones are messengers, entertainment, and assistance with our routines (i.e. Uber or food delivery apps). But since smartphones play such a big part in our lives, I believe it’s safe to predict that the list of their use cases will significantly expand in the near future.
First, I believe a future phone will become a central point of storing all our personal data and it will be efficiently used as our ID. Second, I think more and more financial operations will shift to mobile and e-wallets will very soon replace traditional wallets. In fact, all our life will reside in a single device – maybe we can even call it a digital copy of our identity?