Just over 30 years ago, the first commercial mobile phone, the Motorola DynaTAC, went on sale at a cool $3 ,995 ($10,000 by today’s prices). It was the size of a brick, took 10 hours to charge and held only 30 numbers. But it was the start of a revolution in the way we live. Just three decades later, 66% of the world’s population has a mobile phone. They have infiltrated every area of our lives, from shopping and entertainment to relationships and identity.
So what’s next for the mobile? We look at the technological advances happening right now or just around the corner that will change the world once again.
We have prepared this detailed infographic which can help you skip through the hard work and shed some light on the subject;
Are you a little too attached to your smartphone? Imagine having it embedded in your palm. It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but implanted circuitry, powered by body movement and heat, is not too far off. Researchers have already embedded smartphone components under the skin of a cadaver to see if they still work, with positive results.
Tattoos made of electrical circuits that can read brainwaves are also on the horizon. A prototype is on the drawing board that could be available within five years.
The downside of implants could be futuristic viruses passed between individuals to attack personal data. There are also worries about surveillance; you can’t choose to leave your phone at home when it’s tattooed onto your skin!
Mobiles have the power to make the world a better place as they create networks of people and information. In remote areas of the Developing World, they are already connecting people who were previously off the grid, giving access to education and health care and sending data to scientists fighting killer diseases like malaria.
Mobiles are also playing a part in political crises and humanitarian disasters; text messages and voice calls enabled people to coordinate in the 2013 Egyptian revolution, while mobile data was used to track the number of deaths in the 2011 Syrian uprising.
Health apps are already a massive market, but the mobile devices of the future will be monitoring our bodies themselves.
Wearable technology will have sensors to track blood pressure or spot the signs of an approaching heart attack. Devices will send alerts to our doctor before we even know we’re ill ourselves, and could be critical in life-threatening situations.
In the more distant future, experts predict implanted circuitry that can actually enhance our physical abilities, or suppress them, at the touch of a button.
We’re already using our mobile phones to pay for things, but this is just the start of a financial revolution. Over the next few years, mobiles will take over from credit cards and cash. 50% of all monetary transactions will be made by mobile by 2020.
But the place this will really make a difference is in the Developing World. Half the world’s population is currently ‘unbanked’, meaning they have no access to a bank account. But a growing number of them do have a mobile phone and use it to access financial services, and this trend will continue.
A conscious mobile device may be the stuff of sci fi, but developments in voice recognition software, artificial intelligence and search technology will mean devices that sound and act increasingly like humans. Developing an emotional relationship with our device the next step as we choose its voice and personality. Such a link may even have a negative impact on real-world relationships for some.
Your smartphone probably runs your life but do you know what’s going on under the bonnet? Probably not, but the next generation are going to grow up in a world where modding and hacking our own mobile is increasingly common. Our mobiles will be unique to us as we adapt them to our needs.
This might seem a long way off, but modular mobiles that allow us to select the components we want are almost here. Google’s Project Ara modular mobile is slated for 2016 and on the horizon is the emergence of serious challengers to Apple and Google’s market domination from open source platforms anyone can modify.
Augmented Reality (AR) is digital information overlaid on the real world. We already have apps that recognise landmarks, movie posters that play trailers on our phone or shop mannequins that send us offers. But this is just the start.
Soon, your phone will be able to give you information about anything you point it at. From identifying a vegetable you don’t recognise to scanning someone’s face to access social media profiles, AR will be everywhere.
Developers are already working on projected screens that hover in front of the eyes, and Autumn 2015 is the expected manufacture date for a holographic chip from Ostendo Technologies that’s capable of projecting a 3D image from a smartphone onto a flat surface. These features will make the information literally part of the view.
In the first couple of decades of mobile history, phones got smaller. But that all changed with the advent of the smartphone and internet connectivity. We now want our screens big and bold.
But we still want devices that fit into pockets or bags. The solution is the flexible screen, and it’s not far off. Imagine a wristwatch-sized phone with a screen that folds out to the size of a newspaper. You could be using the early models within a year when Samsung release a rumoured folding screen smartphone. Further down the line are screens that are so flexible they can be incorporated into clothing.
Whatever the future of the mobile device, one thing’s for certain; we’re going to be attached to our phone – perhaps literally - for the foreseeable.