Sunday, 13 January 2013

Top 10 future trends for mobile phones

The mobile industry moves at such a fast space, it's often hard to keep up. But what are the big predicted future trends coming to a smartphone near us? We roundup 10 of the best.

With every major mobile phone release, users are treated to an ever-expanding list of advanced features. Some are more useful than others, but they represent an industry that is always on the move.

The next big feature to make our lives easier is usually only an upgrade away but we've decided to gaze a little further into the future as we anticipate where manufacturers will go next with their products. Here is our top 10 future smartphone features

1) Projection
 We don't have to look too far into the future for this one, with Samsung's Beam handset already offering projection, albeit in a fairly primitive form and more advanced Android based handsets on the horizon. Basic or not though, the Beam is a ground breaking device, and in projection we see a feature which we think will become a staple in future releases. 

Being able to sit down in a conference room and simply view a presentation or video without waiting for laptops to be plugged in or faulty cables to be swapped out would be breath of fresh air for most business users. As technology advances we will see the extension of projection into the video conferencing environment and others. 

Looking further into the future we should see mobile devices packing holographic projection. The technology, which is in its infancy currently, offers a full three-dimensional rendering of the subject and would be invaluable to any designer or architect. People in the medical profession may have to wait a while longer for full body holographics but it's certainly not a flight of fancy to assume it will arrive.

2) Advanced imaging
Every new camera phone released is touted as a 'compact camera replacement' but with the advancement made in the camera industry they seldom live up to their hype. We're set to get a glimpse of what's in store though with the upcoming release of Nokia's N8 smartphone, which carries an eight megapixel sensor and Carl Zeiss optics.

We've also seen huge advances in video recording, with Samsung's Galaxy S and Apple's much vaunted iPhone 4 offering 720P capture, with HTC's Desire HD also entering the fray with 720P HD video capability.

As good as these features are, they aren't good enough to usurp a compact DV or still camera and the future may well see a further coming together of big names in the photography and mobile world as industry leaders in both fields realise that people don't want to carry a camera and a mobile device. So expect to see 12 megapixels and 1080P capture, huge on-board storage and even full editing on the hoof with Photoshop and Premier among the software being used.

3)  Augmented reality
Augmented reality is the future. As end-users we've had our initiation with Google's 'Goggles', 'Layar', 'Wikitude' and 'Last Minute’s Nru', among others, but the flow of AR technology into the marketplace is only just beginning.

We can look forward to true location awareness, enabling clients to view couriers progress in real-time, AR for emergency services, showing the location of victims of crime or accident by their cellular signal and many other greatly useful applications to make our professional lives more efficient and safer.

Aside from general advancement in AR apps, we can also expect a range of devices offering AR replacements for traditional methods of human input, ranging from projected keyboards and touchpads to eye-dialling your phone via a heads-up display while driving. AR is also likely to fill the void between 2D projection and holographic, allowing users to conference and work in a CG environment, sharing information and tools and interacting via virtual controls and workspaces.

The application of AR technology will go beyond smartphones though. Indeed, expect to see augmented advertising hoardings and other interactive media as the norm in the coming years.

4) Desktop replacement
As processor manufacturers continue developing smaller, less power hungry and increasingly powerful products the traditional desktop computer edges nearer and nearer the door. With tablets like Dell's Streak and Nokia's N900 we've been given almost complete desktop functionality in the palm of our hand.

The successors to those devices will be empowered by multi-core processors, advanced graphic processing units and more RAM and ROM than you can shake a stick at. Enabling users to carry out every task they could want on their handheld, and de-centralising the workplace in ways not seen since the introduction of the World Wide Web. Expect to see super-mobile, super-powerful devices that you can plug into your display when you're in the office and work on when you're on the move.

In the more immediate future we can expect to see Nokia's follow up to the geek-friendly N900, sporting ARM's latest Cortex-A9 processor and a lush capacitive touch screen, and no doubt the next generation of Apple's iPad, which also runs on hardware provided by the British chip manufacturer. The iPad may have divided the community like the business equivalent of marmite, but it certainly heralded a new approach to super-mobile computing which we feel will be the standard in years to come.

5) Mobile cloud
Along with the power and flexibility of tomorrow's devices we should see a leap to cloud computing in the mobile market.

With smaller, more powerful devices having the lion's share of their hard work done remotely, users could expect to have all the power that they need without having the suit ripping form factor to go with it. Also, the de-centralised storage of documents, photographs and other data would enable users to work seamlessly with colleagues and even share devices without loss of data.

The removal of brand-based constraints from applications would also be a firm benefit with mobile cloud implementation, any device, any app; so long as it's registered on the network. We believe the mobile cloud would also see the distillation of mobile operating systems, leaving users with a quicker, more labour efficient experience when working on their devices.

The mobile cloud is already in use in certain applications such as Google's Gmail and Apple's MobileMe, but with more extensive usage network infrastructure would have to be fast and stable enough to support the high amount of data transfer needed to make such a concept viable which leads us on to our next point.

6)  4G and beyond
The arrival of 4G is imminent and with it comes a new array of functionality and speed to enhance our mobile lives. Higher specced hardware and improved network infrastructure will provide businesses with a fast and stable data connection, and the next generation of applications, some of which we have already touched on, will run smoothly and - hopefully - without a hiccup.

Keeping you connected is only part of it, the higher speeds afforded users by 4G technology will allow the delivery of high-quality media to clients, enabling you to get your marketing materials out into the world that much faster.

With a new mobile generation coming around roughly every 10 years, we can expect to see 5G implemented fully by 2020, and following current projections will likely see peak data speeds of 1Gbps.

7) Biometrics
As mobile devices evolve into more than just communications tools, security becomes ever more important. Priceless data has famously been left on trains and in cars and the potential loss of revenue from such an oversight could be huge, not to mention the embarrassment to your company.
Enter biometric security.

Fujitsu has already begun rolling out fingerprint based biometric security across some of its range and in the near future voice or even inner-ear activated devices will be widely available, allowing corporations to protect their data fully when it's not in use.

Other uses could include individual workspaces within a single device, enabling a user to pick the device up and have his or her data downloaded automatically, once their identity has been confirmed – a function which could prove invaluable with shared hardware.

As our mobiles become less exception and more norm the concept of all forms of necessary data being held within our device is gathering momentum. Our credit cards, passports, insurance documents etc. could all be carried around with us in our hip pocket, securely protected and unable to be used without our presence.


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