Smart phones have already developed a great deal since the advent of the first iPhone back in 2007. In fact, for such a small period of time it now feels a very dated piece of technology. So it is fair to say that there has been a great deal of development and innovation in the last five years.
So what can we expect and what can the future phones offer us? What does the next five years have in store and what features will we be taking for granted in 2018? Although all the forthcoming innovations are still at some stage of development we are pretty sure that the three following features will become standard in the near future.
The problem: providing a large screen for viewing and browsing while keeping the handset small enough to be truly pocket-friendly. This is a fine line indeed, currently being trod by Samsung with their range of ‘Phablets’ (not a phone, not a tablet). Consumers are still in two minds about sacrificing true portability for screen size.
The answer: flexible, foldable screens. Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology allows this. Married to a paper thin display, it can retain clarity when unfolded and can even project information to both sides of its screen, allowing two users to access different applications simultaneously.
Another obvious benefit to a flexible screen is that it should herald an end to smashed, cracked and broken displays. These screens could, in theory, be virtually indestructible which makes it a very exciting and very practical innovation indeed, one that no smartphone user could fail to appreciate.
Augmented Reality (AR)
The term ‘Augmented Reality’ when applied to Smartphone technology can be described as that which we can perceive and understand using our senses. In this context sight is the sense this innovation is aimed at. Computer generated data such as GPS information, video images and graphics can be combined with what he user can actually see to provide a broader overall picture of their surroundings.
A good practical example of how this tech would work day to day is to imagine viewing a street through the smartphones camera. AR technology would then overlay this ‘live’ view with any information it believed relevant to both the user and their surroundings.
Where the nearest bus stops, restaurants or shops might be could be highlighted with distances, times of business and even customer reviews a simple tap away.
AR technology would rely on some form of GPS for accuracy and although overhead mapping is readily available right now the sophisticated information needed to guide the user around at street level simply isn’t there yet. So certainly, as much of a game changer as the advent of Google Maps, this innovation still has some way to go. So we have to wait and see whether the future phones can deliver it.
Although already attempted by more than one smartphone developer (LG, Motorola and Samsung all having a stab), the holy grail of a true, glasses free 3D display has yet to be fully realised. However, we can fully expect this to become the norm in the not too distant future.
Screen resolution on 2D screens has already reached its peak (iPhones Retina display and Sony’s Experia Z already displaying more pixels per square inch than is detectable by the human eye) so this is the natural next step.
But developers still want to go further and now talk is rife of holographic projection phones. This would allow the user to interact with the phone using swipes, taps and grabs to manipulate the projected image, pinching the display in the air to resize a photo and grabbing documents and flicking them away to physically rearrange them.
Although a workable prototype of this technology (especially the interactive elements) is still some way off it is certainly an exciting prospect indeed. We also have to consider what these future phones will mean to businesses.
Obviously the price of all this research and development will eventually be felt in the pocket of the consumer and we can only hope that such innovations don’t make these future phones out of reach of all but the most wealthy. Fingers crossed. But whatever may come, it’s fair to say that the future looks bright, flexible and hopefully, in 3D!
Guest Post By: David Thompson, a fresh and upcoming technology and entertainment blogger who enjoys the challenges of creativity and attention to detail. His specific areas of interest include film, gaming and the mobile industry, encompassing everything from manufacturer-specific news from Apple to industry announcements from the likes of O2
Photo from Pranavmistry.com and Image credit: Lynn Barry