What’s next for the smartphone in a rapidly changing market?

What's next for the smartphone in a rapidly changing market?

It should be no surprise to anyone that many smartphones may have been designed to last about 24 months – the length of a typical contract with a network service provider. After all, it is a fast-moving, high-turnover market and planned obsolescence is how it is kept moving.

Being high turnover means new models with new features can be brought to market and readily consumed by users conditioned to want the latest and greatest.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It simply means that we will see a lot of new capabilities in the smartphones coming onto the market in the next few years.

Some things are not that far off and there is plenty of speculation about what else is to come. So what are smartphones of the future going to be like?

Your devoted personal assistant

There is a shift from smartphones being a communications device to a multi-function, voice-controlled computer that helps you run more and more aspects of your life.

It’s already a cloud-connected digital personal assistant that knows you, but it will grow to communicate with the computer in your car, at home, in the office, at the shopping mall and elsewhere.

It is likely to spend more time in your pocket too, as peripheral devices such as heads-up displays and watches bring the package into the wearable technology domain.

It can be downright dangerous to see the lack of situational awareness that many people have as they walk about city streets with eyes glued to their smartphones, crossing the street without looking and bumping into others passing by.

Master remote control

Modern life is cluttered with remote controllers for a growing number of gadgets. And with more devices becoming endowed with smarts of their own and wirelessly connected to the web, the major players are already creating master control apps such as Apple’s Homekit that will group devices into categories, or “suites” and allow all kinds of operations to be performed.

Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi says in the video below to tell them to “get ready for bed”, and your smarthome-connected devices will make the garage door close, the doors lock and the lights dim.

One hotel chain is already talking about allowing you to be able to lock and unlock doors with your smartphone, so expect it to replace dedicated cards in a growing number of situations.

Health management

There is already a thriving market for smartphone-synced devices that monitor various aspects of your health; heart rate, distance covered and calories burned to name a few. And this is just the beginning.

In the coming years we are likely to see the growth of integrated health management applications that knows your history and receives data from sensors embedded in your watch and the things you wear, all of which lets you keep tabs on your health status and environmental conditions.

The smartphone becomes your personal physician that advises you in real-time how to stay healthy.

Computational cameras

The technology of image capture is moving from digital to computational.

Smartphone cameras of the future will likely incorporate something like Nvidea’s paradigm-shifting Chimera platform.

This emulates the human eye by being able to focus fast, track objects and compensate for adverse lighting, all of which will combine to produce amazingly life-like photos and videos.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) technology allows you to point your smartphone at a scene in the physical world, and the image on the screen is overlaid with all kinds of interesting information that has been retrieved from a database.

Its your own personal tour guide and teacher, and it is a technology just waiting for a good heads-up display to make it really useful. AR has been around for awhile, but is about to become much better.

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