Most of us take it for granted that we can check e-mail with our mobile phones. But not long ago, this was a truly disruptive technology that changed how we did business and stayed in touch when we were away from home and the office.Which begs the question: What new mobile technologies will emerge in the next few years that will change our lives?
That question was posed to a group of industry analysts, futurists and executives for key vendors, a group grounded in reality, not fantasy. Yet, they still suggested a number of technologies that will provide dramatically better mobile access, better devices and better applications. Some of these life-changing technologies are just around the corner while others years away.
These aren’t isolated technologies. Rather, for the most part, they build on each other so that one won’t be possible until another is widely available. But they all, in their own way, will significantly improve how individuals and business users are mobile.
Advanced applications and devices require fast, easily affordable access, but today’s 3G cellular data service remains expensive and, with typical speeds between 400Kbit/sec. and 700Kbit/sec., slow. That’s about to change, however, and the pace of change will remain rapid into the foreseeable future.
We can also expect to have better devices which will be faster, more ubiquitous access, Imagine a Bluetooth headset in your ear but that’s the phone, And it will continue to get smaller from there until it’s implanted in your ear. You ask for whatever you need [with your voice] and it will tell you the answers.”
However, smaller, more powerful phones themselves will be the end result of several enabling disruptions. These disruptions may seem relatively minor but, added together, they will result in the phones and applications of tomorrow.
Chip vendors have been talking about smaller, more powerful and less power-hungry chips for a long time. Now, development of such chips is likely to accelerate.”Companies like Intel have focused on putting more transistors on a chip and making their products more powerful,It takes a while to turn a ship like that around.” The rapid growth of all things mobile is accelerating that trend, Townsend said.
Besides being smaller and significantly more power efficient, tomorrow’s mobile chip sets will also combine multiple radios, such as Wi-Fi, 3G and WiMax, on a single chip, according to the experts.
Why it’s important: Smaller, more powerful chips mean smaller, more powerful mobile devices and applications. Combined with faster, ubiquitous wireless broadband, that means devices can be sewn into clothing, placed unobtrusively into ears or even implanted in your teeth.
Short-range, wireless cable replacement technologies are starting to be available. Admittedly, they lack the gee-whiz factor, but they eventually will make life much easier for mobile users.
Why it’s important: At the very least, it will be nice to synchronize data between devices and desktops wirelessly. Short-range wireless cord replacements will also be useful for entertainment applications such as streaming video throughout the home. But the real benefit will be using these technologies with tiny mobile devices.
What could hold it back: Not much. These technologies are already well established and should become widely used in the next couple of years.
Another mobile input application on the horizon is better speech recognition, which will be enabled by more powerful mobile chips.Speech recognition got bogged down because it was only 98% or 99% accurate.Even at that accuracy, many of us found it was faster to type. A lot of the problem had to do with processing power — speech recognition needs a lot of horsepower.
More powerful mobile processors will solve that problem, Burrus predicted. And speech playback will become more natural-sounding, he added. In other words, everything you do with your keyboard at your desk, you’ll be able to do with speech while you’re mobile.
Why it’s important: If you have a teensy mobile device that is, say, tucked in your ear, better speech recognition and playback means you don’t need a keyboard or display. You’ll be able to perform complex functions such as Web searches or buying things using your voice.
What could hold it back: Users could be reticent about letting others in public places hear their business. They may prefer to combine better speech recognition with other methods of input.
Vendors such as Philips and Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp. have been publicly showing foldable and e-paper(E-paper uses a mylar-like screen) displays for mobile devices. Both will enable tiny devices to display data clearly on easily stowed screens.
Fast, ubiquitous wireless access will enable centralized storage on remote servers,where you wont need a lot of bulk if you offload storage and other functions to a [centralized] server.
So what do we do with these powerful, tiny, highly connected devices with satisfying input and output? The answer, of course, is new, innovative applications.We can’t hope to cover all the potentially disruptive applications of the future, but we can describe why a few will change your life. We’d love to hear your choices in the comments section of this story.