Smartphone capability is growing by leaps and bounds. Will the technology become so advanced one day that the smartphone itself will cease to exist?
“When consumers perceive that something will enable their lives to be easier, that’s innovation,” says Fabio Oliveira, the Manager for Mexico for Motorola Mobility. He makes an important argument: new technology must be disruptive for customers to assign real value to it. If a new technology is “nice” but not life-changing, notes Oliveira, the consumer is likely to use it a few times and then put it aside. “If it doesn’t add benefits, what’s the point?” he asks.
Consider this maxim as it applies to smartphones. How innovative is virtual assistant software if it cannot answer most of your questions? Why would you want to play a revolutionary new video game if it takes forever to download or stream to your phone? And what good is augmented reality if it only plays Pokémon Go?
INTO THE DEEP
What is indisputable is that current technologies found in digital devices are improving literally at this moment. Deep learning—a branch of artificial intelligence that attempts to mimic the function of the brain’s neocortex—will enable computers to recognize patterns as they receive input, be it from speech, images, or sounds.
5G technology is expected to become available to consumers in 2020, but it will undergo a test run of sorts at next year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.
For example, Oliveira explains, smartphones may be able to lower healthcare costs because users will have “basic assistance—a smartphone can learn your daily activities, remind you to take your medicine, check your blood pressure, and so on.” In practice, this means that smartphones will become true partners in users’ decision-making in everything from finding the best place to get a deep-dish pizza to driving your car more safely to … well, no one really knows the endpoint of deep learning.
VIRTUAL IMAGES, AUGMENTED REALITY
Plenty of projects are revolutionizing the use of smartphones. Oliveira speaks of a recently developed technology that turns a smartphone into a 70-inch projector for sharing images. This may also enable smart watches and other wearables to project screens, keyboards, number pads, or other virtual tools onto a surface. Flexible screens, modular designs, and collapsible handsets are other innovations that could broaden the range of smartphone products by early next decade.