Mobiles have come a long way in the last few decades. Most of us remember a time when our mobiles weighed approximately the same as a small planet, when the game ‘snake’ reigned king – it was pretty much the only one available at the time – and when transferring data from one phone to another was done by infrared – a process which required you to literally push two phones together in order to work.
Thankfully, these features are now a thing of the past – a distant memory. These days, data transfer is done almost instantly via email, Bluetooth or social media. Good old’ ‘snake’ has been replaced by hundreds of thousands of mobile apps available on app stores, and mobiles are slick, lightweight and stylish.
In fact, these last two decades have seen exponential growth in technology across the board. We now use tech that would have been nothing but a dream 50 years ago on a daily basis. Virtual reality, voice recognition, smart devices… the list goes on and on. But are we reaching the limit of our innovation? Have mobile phones reached their peak? Or can technology still climb higher from here?
Well, it looks like there’s still plenty of room for progression. The future of mobile technology looks nothing short of incredible. Here are 5 amazing features to look out for in the years to come:
1. Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality – AR, for short – is likely to become much more prevalent in the future. What is AR exactly, you ask?
Well, remember Pokemon Go? That app that made headlines a year or so ago that everyone and their mothers were playing? That, in a nutshell, is Augmented Reality – technology which enhances or modifies the things we perceive via our senses.
In the case of Pokemon Go, the app used your camera to modify the things you could see in the world around you – it ‘augmented’ your ‘reality’ by turning the real world into a world filled with Pokemon.
Now take that concept, magnify it ten-fold, and apply it to countless other applications, and the future of AR starts to become clearer. For example, imagine a mobile app that lets you point your camera at something and then populates the screen with information about what you’re looking at; kind of like those high-tech glasses you see agents wearing in spy-movies.
Unfortunately, recognition accuracy isn’t quite there yet, hence why we’re not already seeing this feature being widely used in present-day mobile phones. As we move forward and improve the ability of technology to recognise places, people and buildings, we’ll start seeing this tech rolled out more widely.
2. Face Recognition
First, we had touch recognition, then voice recognition. Next up is face recognition. And I’m not talking about over-hyped, doesn’t-quite-work-right, more-hassle-than-it’s-worth facial recognition. I mean real, reliable and functional face recognition technology that works like it’s supposed to.
New developments in face recognition technology have moved away from facial feature scanning and, instead, scan the actual contours of your head. This makes it much harder to fool the software by, for example, showing it a photo of the user’s face.
And face recognition is only the beginning. It shouldn’t be long until phones have the technology to recognise you by other attributes that don’t even require scanning, such as behavioural and movement patterns.
Yes, Holograms. Let that sink in for a moment.
Now we’re getting into the really high-tech stuff. Holograms might feel like something that only exists in a Star Wars movie, but it could actually be a reality sooner than you might think. Don’t get your hopes up too high though, as it’s unlikely to be exactly like what you’re imagining.
The basic idea of a hologram is to project a 3D image into space and have it pop into existence in the air around you. This is actually impossible as we can only see colour when light bounces off something, and this requires there to actually be something for the light to bounce off.
This means that, in order for virtual reality to become a reality, there needs to be a medium for the light, like glass. Therefore, developers are currently working on ways to create holographic images using glasses or headsets in a way that feels more like real life and less like you’re looking at a 3D image on a screen.
We already have Virtual Presence units – units which you put your phone in and which project whatever is playing on there into virtual space, and projects like Microsoft’s HoloLens are working on models of holographic technology for everyday use. It might never be quite like Star Wars, but it’s worth keeping an eye on to see where it goes from here!
4. Flexible Screens
Soon, you may not have to choose between a large-screened tablet for high-definition movie viewing and a slick little mobile that fits into your pocket. You might be able to have the best of both worlds with screens that literally change size and shape.
The flexible mobile screens of the future should be able to be folded, bent, and morphed into various shapes and sizes. Imagine the possibilities – your mobile could change shape and become your smartwatch or your tablet. This could be truly transformative for the mobile industry and it’s well within reach. The first flexible mobiles might even hit the market within the next year.
That’s not the only advancements being made in the mobile screen domain either – there’s also ongoing experiments and developments into so-called self-healing screens, and highly-durable screens which use graphene glass. Imagine a near-indestructible, flexible mobile device that literally fixes itself. Incredible, right?
5. Charger-less phones
One of the biggest complaints voiced by mobile users concerns battery life. Manufacturers have struggled to improve battery life, but not for lack of trying. The problem is that, as batteries improve, so too does processing power, so the speed with which mobile phones drain remains the same.
Hopefully, mobile phone manufacturers will soon overcome this tricky challenge as experiments into solutions like nanobatteries, solar power and kinetic energy are currently underway.
Whilst the exact future of mobile batteries remains unclear, one thing’s for certain – you’ll almost certainly be able to charge your mobile phone wirelessly and probably much less often.