Published 27 February 2018 Category: Entrepreneurs, SMEs, Startups, Business, Digital Marketing

Smartphones - The Future Of Extended Capability

As the name suggests, smartphones possess smarter capabilities than mobile phones, providing then additional, now essential functions like web browsing, multimedia entertainment, games etc – much like mini-computers, only small enough to fit in your pocket. Smartphones appeared in the market close to two decades ago as the alternative to mobile phones which carry the primary function to enable only two-way communication by text or calls. The smartphones of today have other extended capabilities including in-built high-quality camera lenses, mobile apps that aid productivity, video-streaming as well as connectivity that enable millions to stay connected while on the go.

Let's jump to the future, where real wireless power (we’re talking about a feature that works similar to Wi-Fi -- not the cradle/pad version) is ubiquitous, screens are transparent and our smartphones are byproducts of advanced AI.

Augmented Reality (AR)
The term ‘augmented reality‘ or AR when used in the context of computer technology refers to what we perceive through our senses (usually sight) enhanced through the use of computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics and GPS data. Simply put, AR makes available more information for us users by combining computer data to what we see in real life. Using the camera on your phone, you can point it somewhere ‘live’ to get an information overlay of where you can find the nearest cafes or your next serviced office or co-working space, for example.

Smartphones being portable serve as a good platform for AR to work. You can just whip out your phone to get the latest and relevant info for what you are searching for – information which you would otherwise have to call and ask or search online before heading out of Wi-Fi coverage. Most AR apps available now utilise some form of Global Positioning System (GPS) to facilitate location searches and this feature is likely to develop further over the next couple of years because of its potential. So why isn’t it in all smartphones yet?

It seems that the primary limiting factor is the limited recognition accuracy for ‘live’ views when we point our camera lens at places, buildings or even people. For AR to work seamlessly and reliably, the technology for recognising places, things or people must be of a certain standard.

Flexible Screens
It may soon be the case where smartphones are able to provide a large screen to watch and play your favorite movies and games while maintaining a pocketable size. Screens can be folded and unfolded, all thanks to Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology. This paper-thin screen can even project future-features-smart-phones/ from both sides of the screen, so you can show pictures or videos to your friend on one side while using the other as a control.

With such physical flexibility for smartphones, some companies even have plans on making wearable smartphones for the masses. For instance, Nokia is currently conducting research on their concept device, Morph (which offers users the option of wearing it as a wrist watch or unfold it to use as a typical handset as and when required. It all depends on the task the users are engaging with.

In-Built Projector
If flexible screens are not enough to compensate for the small screens on smartphones why not integrate a projector within? What good will this do? Well, for one thing, future smartphones can actually be turned into an interactive gaming consoles without a need for a TV screen; all you’ll need is a flat surface. Instead of a physical controller, you can use your body or your voice. Similar to Kinect, a smart camera and a voice control function can capture your movements and voice commands to let you interact with objects and future-features-smart-phones/ on the projected screen.

Of course, you can imagine the drainage rate on your smartphone’s battery life and there’s also the other issue with luminance i.e. the amount of light it outputs. In-built projectors for smartphones must be small, and as the paradox sits: the smaller the projector is, the lesser light it will be able to give out. With better technology though, issues such as these will be addressed in time, making projectors a part of a new experience you can now engage with your smartphone.

Seamless Voice Control
Voice control has been receiving much attention since Siri made headlines. Voice control has existed in many earlier mobile phones even though the voice recognition function was crude at best. Research has been made to advance the development of voice control, but it has proved to be a paramount task.

The interest with voice control for computers and especially smartphones has always been there since the pioneer MIT research, “Put That There” studied different ways to communicate with computers in 1980. With the newly improved voice recognition app, Siri, as well as the greater capabilities of smartphones in the years to come, seamless voice control seems to be a viable goal. That, combined with gestures may bring interactivity to a new level for smartphones and their users.

3D Screens & Holograms
Smartphones may have already reached the peak in screen resolution with Apple’s ‘Retina Display‘, which actually provides a resolution that is sharper than what the human eye can perceive. Yet, even then, we still want more. Mobile companies are now moving from 2D future-features-smart-phones/ to 3D future-features-smart-phones/ for the smartphone screen. So what happens after 3D?

Well, the next path could possibly be holographic projections. In essence, holographic projections will mean a combination of 3D future-features-smart-phones/ and projections from the smartphone. According to Mobiledia Network, MasterImage 3D (a fast-growing digital 3D cinema system supplier, offering audiences the clearest, sharpest 3D experience) had previously showcased their ongoing development on a projection system that allows smartphones to display 3D holograms at the annual Mobile World Congress last February. For example, you can resize your photos by using your hands to ‘pull’ or ‘compress’ the holographic photos that appear in front of you, move objects by ‘grabbing’ them from one place to another, etc.

All set for smartphones of the future?
It’s exciting to expect these features in our future smartphones but what will it will take for us to get there? We’re talking about the price we may have to pay in exchange for such awesome features in our smartphones. Apart from that, there is also the other issues that can work up a storm: must our privacy be compromised for augmented reality to work at its fullest potential? Can marketers exploit our private details to obtain otherwise inaccessible data about us, our likes and preferences?

Also, with so much incorporated into our smartphones, will the case of total dependence of the user on their mobile devices be a problem? Everyone is waiting to see what the smartphone industry can offer, and how the masses will react to the emergence of new and better smartphones along with the multitude of issues that come with each technology that is introduced to public use…and how Marketers can leverage these functions to maximise customer experiences.