Smartphones will soon do everything!

It is odd to think that mobile phones started off as items of ridicule. They were the size and shape of a brick and only businessmen had them. In public places they would deliberately take or make calls to show them off. Now smartphones have become ubiquitous it seems as if we are only scratching the surface as to what they can be used for and there are regular predictions as to what some of those uses are likely in the next decade or so. It seems that there is very little they won’t be able to do.

One phrase that recurs when looking into this topic is `augmented reality` which basically means better sounds, graphics, video and data by combining what we can see in real life. Pretty soon we will be able to point our phone camera at a shop or café for example and the menu will pop up on our screen. This will allow you to order or buy something before you even go inside. In the case of a shop, they might well have it wrapped by the time you get to the counter .For a restaurant you might receive information about free tables or you can book a table for later.

Obviously you can phone up or do a lot online now but most of the predictions suggest that we will not end up stuck at home hunched over a keyboard or screen. The smartphone already allows us to be online yet exercising at the same time and this trend is expected to continue. Future smartphones will be thinner than ever (like a crisp) and we’ll be able to charge them wirelessly. They will interact with everything in our homes (or if you are on holiday a hotel) allowing remote control of such things as heating, thermostat, appliances etc. Instead of having a laptop or tablet we will be able to project a larger screen onto any surface like a desk or a wall. The predictions also suggest an end to apps as we know them because everything will be built in anyway.

There is also a move towards flexible screens which fold out of your phone. Welcome then to another acronym OLED or Organic Light-Emitting Diode. In terms of actual display resolution, the pinnacle has probably been reached already but researchers are working on the potential for 3D phone screens and there are already a couple on the market. The same pros and cons as with TV or cinema screens come into play here and there is no escaping the fact that even the best 3D does not really look the same as the world does if you just look around you normally. Beyond 3D though there is talk of phones projecting holographic images. This is beloved of any sci-fi film set in the future and would allow you to `pull` your photos or videos into mid-air like spaghetti and show them to everyone.  Checking they are clean first of course!

There have already been recent news stories about the end of cash, debit and credit cards. The future smartphone will be used for all payments, large or small, probably by swiping it across a control thereby also doing away with the good old PIN.  Of course this will make the information on them even more valuable. One aspect that these predictions don’t cover is security. However we protect this vital material it is clear that the current password / number system will not be adequate. Then there’s the risk of the phone being lost or stolen. Even now if it happens people feel they have lost a key element of their life- in the future phone loss will be second only to life loss because your entire life will be on there! Expect a rash of devices that `attach` your phone to you somehow- perhaps pads that stick to your palm?

While such developments as these are generally welcome enhancements, there is one that is unnerving some people. This is a recording function that goes way beyond you actually choosing to film something. Instead, the idea is that there will be sensors in work places, at meetings and even beyond that will record what is happening and beam it to your phone. You won’t need to do anything at all! You would have to be very careful though what you said because it will be on everyone else’s phone too even if you delete it from yours!


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