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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The future of smartphones

The daily email from TechConnect included a “must read” article about something that has been in my mind for a while, its title: Why wearables will replace your smartphone. Actually wearables might replace more than just smartphones. A wearable might be a bracelet (eg, Apple Watch) or glasses (eg, Google Glass) or both.

Smartphones have grown bigger and bigger following the size and quality of the display. Even for some men, smartphones don't fit their pockets anymore. I suppose many women have a love/hate relationship with their smartphones. In the absence of pockets, handbags offer some resolution.

The very first Star Wars movie was released almost 40 years ago, and was later retitled in Star Wars IV – A new hope (IMDb). A specific scene is quite relevant. At a certain moment the robot R2-D2 plays a pre-recorded hologram message in which Princess Leia makes an urgent plea for help (video). Holograms are already becoming mainstream technology (TED Talk) and offer unique features to modern technology.

A small wearable that would be able to display a hologram outside the gadget could easily replace large smartphones. In fact, any audio visual content could - and probably would – be streamed through holograms, like radio, streaming videos (eg, YouTube), or even regular TV. Alternatively, the wearable could beam or stream its content to a (public/private) video wall.

Such a wearable would most likely become the centrepiece in our belongings. Its efficient and effective mobility would be a priceless feature. Any house could suddenly become our home. Somehow, I don't expect that future homes will be like today's homes. Population size, urbanisation and globalisation will require utmost mobility. Wearables would make such a nomadic life much more convenient.

Obviously, such wearables are likely to operate as an identification tool (eg, biometric passport by hologram), access and registration tool (eg, security clearance), and also as a potential track & trace tool for future City-State surveillance. Every advantage has its own unique disadvantage (a Johan Cruijff quote). Hacking these wearables will remain as important as ever.

A potential showstopper might be the health issues associated to radio frequency radiation by smartphones and wifi. A recent 2016 US major cell phone radiation study reignited those existing cancer questions (Scientific American). Wearables will most likely still use radio frequencies unless another technological breakthrough would happen.

The current Apple Watch is still an expensive joke in my view and I prefer wearing my Swiss watch. Recently, I sent a Guardian article about the usefulness of an Apple Watch to the son of a friend. To my surprise, this Apple addict had just sold his Apple Watch for a Swiss watch. Although my bucket list still includes a Patek Philippe 5120J, I am convinced that the conceptual idea described above would be a massive hit, like the iPhone once was.

Electric Light Orchestra - Telephone line (1977) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Hello--how are you
Have you been alright, through all those lonely nights,
That's what I'd say, I'd tell you everything,
If you'd pick up that telephone.

Hey--how you feelin'
Are you still the same
Don't you realize the things we did were all for real not a dream,
I just can't believe
They've all faded out of view.

I look into the sky
(The love you need ain't gonna see you through.)
And I wonder why
(The little things are finally coming true.)

Telephone line, give me some time, I'm living in twilight
Telephone line, give me some time, I'm living in twilight

O.K. so no--one's answering,
Well can't you just let it ring a little longer
I'll just sit tight, through the shadows of the night
Let it ring for evermore.


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