Published on December 8th, 2021 | by Emergent Enterprise0
What Will Smartphones Be Like in 10 years?
Who can predict the Next Big Thing – the next big emergent technology device? It can be a fool’s game as there are so many unpredictable variables: unforeseen tech discoveries, Big Tech company influences, user preferences and more. This post at Gizmodo by Daniel Kolitz asks a panel of experts to take on the prediction of smart phones and they foresee a future of light, fast and even hidden devices that seamlessly interact with the world around us. Augmented reality will play a big part, according to the panel, as we receive information continuously that enriches our experience – or hinders it. It begs the question – how much interconnectedness do we want? Do we want to continuously broadcast our location, our choices, our purchases and even our movements? I guess we are to some extent right now, aren’t we?
“The future of the smartphone—or connection device(s)—will likely rely on more deeply engaging us sensorially as humans. “
If you’d asked a panel of experts 10 years ago what smartphones would look like in a decade, you’d have gotten all kinds of wild responses. Recall that in 2001 the biggest thing in cell phone technology was the Nokia 8250, the chief selling point of which was its colorful display. Instead of black-and-white, this phone’s screen was blue. At the time, this was huge. Looking back, it’s startling that we went from that to the iPhone in just six years. Given an evolutionary leap of that magnitude, who could say then what would happen given another 10? Will smartphones, as we know them, even exist?
For this week’s Giz Asks, we polled a panel of experts on what the smartphone might look like another 10 years from now, and they were optimistic that things would change substantially. How substantially? Read below to find out.
Professor, Industrial Design, James Madison University
By and large the phone as we know it is an artifact dictated by the technology of the early-to-mid 2000s. We don’t want the black boxes in our bags and pockets. We want access, communication, and connection. As the technology advances, so does the form and capacity of our devices.
The future of the smartphone—or connection device(s)—will likely rely on more deeply engaging us sensorially as humans. As virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) becomes a truer, more holistic extended reality (XR), then the capacity for overlaying and enlarging our actual reality and social networks with sight, sound, tactile, etc. experiences is vast. Flexible materials, scalable displays, retinal and holographic projection, smartwatches and glasses, and bionic implants already exist. In 10 years they will have been refined and expanded in the same way the phone has been over the past decade. Likely faster. When you overlay advances in facial (human) recognition, wireless connections, and quantum computing, means of connection can be embedded everywhere. We reach a point where we may no longer need to carry devices at all.
Sounds cool, right? I would be remiss if I didn’t also point to the fact that, like many people, I struggle with what I perceive as a substantial smartphone addiction. It is the first and last thing I touch every day. I wonder if there will come a point when we humans decide that we can subsist, even thrive, without being so constantly connected, tracked, quantified, stimulated, informed, and engaged. When it comes to dopamine, humans are not the best at making decisions in our and our planet’s best interests.
UX designer and the co-author of User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design Are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play
My job is basically to draw up concepts for how we might use our phones and devices 2-5 years from now.
In ten years, it’s an open question whether the smartphone will still be the one device to rule them all.
Some time ago, we migrated to the mobile phone from a world where the desktop computer was the focus of all our computing. In many ways, the mobile phone almost replaced or supplanted the desktop computer—it didn’t necessarily augment it. Those two things, desktop and mobile, still operate in parallel and duplicative ways. You might perform the same task on both devices, but fundamentally you’re operating in parallel worlds.
Yet from the very beginning of the foundational era for personal computing, people have had a different vision—a vision for a world in which you’re surrounded by a universe of objects. These objects are not necessarily general computing devices; they might just be the thing that’s closest at hand and most natural to use at that moment but still offer you everything you need. This would be a world of thin clients—basically, interface devices that don’t necessarily have all the computing power within them, but that use the cloud to deliver the apps and services you need.