Future cell phone component and system opportunities
Feb 12, 2014 Dr Peter Harrop
One of the biggest impediments to future cell phone and associated system sales is that few people will allow a device that is so unreliable, difficult to use and that runs out of power so quickly to replace many more of our mission-critical even life-dependent devices such as health diagnostics and treatment, passports and transport and financial cards all of which are far more reliable and easy to use outside a mobile phone. It will be difficult for historians to explain why cell phones have been allowed to deteriorate from a charge lasting two weeks ten years ago to their frequent expiry within a day, with the prospect of worse as "gas-guzzling" new features such as NFC and big tightly-rollable displays get used more.
Similarly, there seems to be almost no serious effort to create a colour video display that can be used in sunshine, yet we all want one. Less critically there is little work on replacing earphones with localised sound. Responding to most of the 14 human senses and the embedded cell phone technology emulating them should be in prospect. In future, embedded cell phone technology will exhibit many of the human senses and physical capabilities in enhanced form, making us superman and superwoman. Indeed, you can buy an exoskeleton in the USA, Japan or Europe today.
Cut and run
Responding more closely to user needs and anticipating future ones are opportunities for a cell phone developer or component supplier that is prepared to "cut and run" - rather as Apple did with fingerprint activation in 2013 and Samsung in Korea did with OLED displays earlier. There are many gaps in the market for both new components and new infrastructure from contactless, inductive charging to real time Locating Systems (RTLS).
Today's cell phone must change to become ubiquitous
An increasing number of problems arise due to the increasingly ubiquitous use of cell phones, even by the very young. For instance, in the UK, the average youngest age of acquiring a cell phone has been reported as dropping to 7.5 years old.
Lucratively tackle the problems
The cell phone industry should try harder to address the increasing number of problems to make money and avoid a bad brand image. For example, use of phones when driving a car or on a bike causes crashes. 130 million Chinese go to work on fast electric bikes. The accident rate of two-wheel vehicles worldwide is not improving and increasing use of cell phones while riding them will only make matters worse, whether it is legal or not. Maybe even if the cell phone takes the form of future Google Glass eyewear it will not help with this one. One of the reasons why we have reached peak car in an increasing number of countries is because young people cannot use their beloved social media on the phone while driving a car.
While we concentrate on reading, playing computer games and watching videos, our blink rate is reduced by a third. This can lead to a higher rate of tear evaporation, one of the causes of dry eye syndrome but there is work on changing the human interface to diminish this. Mobile phone affordability and chargeability in the Third World are major challenges if the market for the phones and associated services is to continue to grow. Here more imagination means more business.
Take privacy more seriously
Ubiquitous computing literally disappearing into the fabric of society does of course include the cell phone. 94 years after they appeared in comic books, we have cell phone watches but they fly in the face of the fact that people buy twice as many Samsung as Apple cell phones, partly because they want bigger, not smaller screens. Google Glass and other smart glasses more intelligently dispense with the hard screen and use "new" hands-free human interfaces. Smart eyewear needs to progress from being little more than a cell phone peripheral to being a cell phone, controller and diagnostic device combined and hands-free. The Chinese will make them affordable.
There is a pendant or badge worn by bus drivers in the UK that, when pressed, records what a criminal is saying and calls for help, giving co-ordinates, thanks to its Siemens cell phone board. That recording is used in court as evidence. Such phones, whether or not recognisable as such, do have a dark side which is the loss of privacy and associated control we increasingly suffer. Will the police be allowed to remotely acquire my cell phone to covertly detect if the guests at my house party have brought in drugs and identify both the drug and the person concerned?
Stop harming children and adults
Children are facing a health "time bomb" of neck and back pain relating to the use of computers and smartphones, European health experts warned in November 2013. More than two-thirds of UK primary school children have reported experiencing back or neck pain over the course of one year, according to research connecting it to phone use. The number receiving treatment for back or neck pain has doubled in the past six months, researchers at Swansea University claim. A study published in New Zealand in PLUSONE in 2014 revealed that those texting while walking hunch so much that the upper vertebrae are over loaded by up to 13.6 kg (30 lbs), enough to pull the spine out of alignment. Fix these problems and make money: everyone wins, smart eyewear being very promising for this.
To learn more, read the new IDTechEx report, Future Mobile Phone / Cell Phone Technology and Functions 2014-2024.
Top image source: Dinard da Mata - www.behance.net/ddm