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The liberation of the mobile phone

Author: Karen Willows
Four images of mobile technology in use

The liberation of the mobile phone

Innovations lead to liveable mobile technology

When the first mobile phone was invented in 1973 by Motorola, it weighed two lbs., cost almost $4000.00 USD and took ten hours to charge for a 30 minute conversation. It was nicknamed a “brick” because of its humongous size.

Over the years, mobile phones have slowly evolved: they have decreased in size (and subsequently increased, as we have seen with the new iPhone 6), touchscreens have become the norm, and the concept of having a phone has changed from being a novelty to something people can’t live without.

I found myself being asked, what could possibly be next? How can mobile phones evolve further than they have?  Let’s take a look at what ideas the market leaders are working on at the moment, some of which have been in the news recently. These include:

Near Field Communication (NFC)

The development of NFC technology allows people to pay for goods at close proximity to a pay-point, making their shopping experience more convenient, quick and easy.

Voice-control

Apple developed Siri, which claims to understand not only what you say, but actually what you mean. Although this has some obvious blips, this is an astounding development. Other phone companies have developed similar ideas.

Flexible screens

Although Sony was the first to develop flexible screens in 2010, they have not made them available to in phone-form. LG has announced this month that they are launching the world’s very first OLED display available on their G Flex phone - the phone that is made of flexible plastic substrates and therefore unbreakable. Great for the clumsy, or adventurous.

3D technology

Apple claimed that the resolution on the new iPhones was too good for the human eye to even see. This had led to the development of 3D phone technology, and Amazon launching its very first phone with a holographic 3D interface. Powered by four infrared cameras situated in each of the four corners on the face of the phone, the position of the user’s eyes can be tracked and the display adjusted accordingly. Novel? Tick. Engaging? Tick. A bit useless? Maybe.

Augmented Reality

Using image recognition technology and GPS capabilities, augmented reality turns your phone into a magic lens, gathering information from around your physical location and giving you an interactive view on the world around you.

Wearable technology

This exciting new area, (covered in one of our previous blog post) opens up new possibilities to shoppers and retailers, and includes watches like the new Apple Watch, Pebble Smartwatch, and Google Glass.

If these are the things that are in production right now, will it give us an insight into what’s to come? The current trends suggest that phone companies are moving away from what people want and over to what people need: the introduction of Apple Pay, health trackers and watches – all products that people will rely on in their day to day lives. Not only that, but companies are seeking to change the way we live, work, and play with technology. Sony recently introduced the Xperia underwater phone, which on first glance looked like a novel idea, aimed at the adventurous. What about the 98 percent of the market who don’t dive or swim with their phones? But this idea is perfect for those clumsy people who often find their phone swimming in the toilet or accidentally knocked into the bath. I’ll bet that’s about 98 percent of the population. Phones need to mold into our lives as seamlessly as possible, without the fear of breaking them or spilling something on them. Creating phones with longer battery life, waterproofing, and making phones less breakable could be the keys to the future.

Apple have just filed a patent for tougher glass, while several companies are introducing a waterproofing service for any gadget or phone. Soon, anti-scratch, anti-fingerprint and anti-germ screens will become standard. Waterfi, a company that says they are “liberating” customers with their waterproofing technology have said, “The cost of waterproofing doesn’t just save the customer from paying for a repair or replacement, it actually frees the customer to use the device in ways and places they never thought possible.”

Waterproof, shock-proof, dirt-proof, snow-proof, germ-proof: phones will soon need to become lifeproof.