A glimpse into the future of the smartphone

3 06 2010

Wristband phone prototype

Smartphone technology has advanced vastly over the past decade.  What used to be a barely functional oversized devise, is now a slick, multitouch capablecomputer, that fits right in your pocket. So much has been achieved in the past ten years, it seems as if smartphones can’t get any smarter.  However the current generation smartphones are just the beginning to a forever advancing industry.  So what will the future have in store for our smartphones?  Will there be holographic technology built in?  Or how about a screen that can bend?  Or maybe a phone that can record movie quality video?  All of this is more possible than it sounds.  After looking back on the two previous posts on the advancement of smartphone technology and multi touch functionality, we are certain to be amazed when future smartphones are released to the world. (With every new smartphone tech that finds its way to market.)  With so many areas of advancement to come it’s hard to focus on one, so let’s just start with the most important, the Phone operating system. [1]

Operating System

Throughout the past ten years, smartphone technology has advanced vastly.  What used to be a device that could just make phone calls and send text messages now can take photos, videos, run applications and so much more.  So what is in store for smartphones of the future?  The answer to that question is simple.  Smartphones of the future will be extremely fast and functional, similar to that of your computer.  Your phone will be able to run applications that only computers can run now, and might soon be the most important device you will ever own, and it fits right into you pocket.  Applications such as Adobe Photoshop will be able to run smoothly for editing on the go, thanks to improvements with CPU speed.  Your phone will be able to capture high resolution photos that are up to par with most digital cameras. They will also be able to record high definition videos up to 1080p resolution, which is unheard of now in the phone industry.  Imagine being able to capture an important moment in high definition without a video camera, and the phone’s high processing speed will let you work with that footage seamlessly.  With such high computing capability, phones will be able to multitask similar to a computer.  Have you ever been playing a game on your phone, and then receive a text message?  You have to quit out of the game and then reply to the message in a separate screen.  With the ability to multitask, you will be able to switch over to the text message screen without closing any applications, and without any slowdown or lag.  Phones will also be able to run games that are comparable to current generation consoles, so you can leave the Snake application behind and play a fully loaded, online capable video game on the go.  Your future phone will always be connected to the internet, other people, etc., and with that comes new and improved cell phone networks. [1,3,4,5,9]

Network

4G speeds vs 3G speeds

It is no doubt that future phone networks will be vastly improved over current generation networks.  Whether its 4G networks, VoIP, or WiMAX, it’s a great improvement.  4G networks have already been released to only a few providers but it provides for vastly improved speeds over 3G networks.  (See Graph).  The appearance of widely used 4G networks will happen very shortly.  Almost every company will be supporting it.  VoIP is another emerging service that could be used everywhere in the future.  It stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol.  Basically, you will be able to use you phone to make calls and send text messages over the internet.  All you need is internet service, and the calls and messages would be free.  Could this mean that there will be no more cellular networks?  It is quite possible that we will see the decline of cellular networks with the emergence of VoIP AND WiMAX.  WiMAX is generally the same idea as VoIP but extends the range by great numbers.  In order to use WiMAX you would need a gateway, or dongle to distribute the service.  These could be in your house or anywhere throughout a town.  Each gateway can provide up to 30 miles in coverage.  Thats right, imagine being able to connect to your gateway 30 miles from home.  Not only is that intriguing, WiMAX can offer speeds up to 40 Mbits per second.  Thats unheard of for a cell phone service.  Also these could be set up around the country for cheaper than the cost of cell phone towers, and for faster speeds.  Sounds practical doesn’t it.  I don’t think there will be a problem getting people to ditch their cell phone service for WiMAX service.  I know I will. [5,6,7,10]

How VoIP Works

WiMAX Speeds

Appearance and Functionality

Clear Phone

One of the most exciting aspects of future phones to look at is appearance.  How a phone looks may not have anything to do with how the phone will function internally, but some external features are greatly improved.  Most picture you find on the internet of future devices are mostly prototypes, and are not in development, but could very possibly be the next phone you have in your hand.  The reason for this is because most companies usually don’t release many photos or details on the phone until it’s close to release date.  However, the prototypes are out there for everyone to enjoy.

Imagine having a phone the size of Milky Way bar, and to open it, it fans out like a portable fan.  The blade of the fan would be the bendable touchscreen.  This would allow for great protection of the screen and allow great portability.  How about a phone that looks just like a piece of glass.  It’s completely see through and with hologram and touchscreen technology, it could function like any other touchscreen phone.

Fan phone

Roll up phone

Imagine rollin out an old scroll, except for in the future, the paper would be a flexible touchscreen that was rolled up into a compact, flash drive sized device.

Hand phone

How about a phone that you could wear as a watch, and the ear piece and microphone would be located on your finger and thumb.  All you would have to to talk would be to push a button, then simply put your hand to your head.  Although the prototype seems a little bulky, that would soon change after years of development.

One of my favorite prototypes is the Ubik device.  It is an extremely small cube shaped phone, but does more than what it seems.  It can fold out into an iphone sized device.  The touchscreen actually folds down to be only a quarter inch thick.  It can also take quick snapshots even when its closed.  This phone would literally fit inside of a cassette player, with the functionality of any other multitouch smartphone.

Ubik

There are many other prototypes out there that will change the way we use cell phones and it is extremely exciting to see a glimpse into what we might be using in the future.  And these prototypes are only considering the near future.  Try and think of what we could be using 30 years from now.  A hologram phone? Who knows.  All we can do is wait and see. [1,3,8,12]

Professional photography

Everyone who owns a smartphone knows that they can capture images and video with their device, but in order to take professional quality photographs and videos, you need an expensive camera.  That could soon change.  Future phones, as mentioned earlier, will be able to capture high definition photos and video.  You will be able to take photos to up to 12 megapixels, and even higher.  The digital camera that I own can only shoot 6 megapixels.  Quite a difference.  Phones could also be able to record videos on 1080p resolution.  Thats high enough to look great on you 42 inch lcd screen.  All of this can be done simply with your cell phone.  This is groundbreaking in the world of cell phones.  Below is a video of the Sony Ericsson Satio, demoing it’s 12.1 megapixel camera. [1,3,5,11,]

Final Thoughts

The future of smartphones is upon us, and is coming faster than most people expected.  It will not be long before you own a smartphone from the future.  The phones we own now can already do amazing tasks, and these tasks will just get easier.  And just think back to what we have already learned in this blog.  These concepts wouldn’t even be plausible if it wasn’t for rapidly advancing technology.  And this isn’t only happening in the cell phone industry, but every single industry in our world today.  Welcome to the future ladies and gentlemen, we are living in it.

Sources

1-http://www.pcworld.com/article/126854/the_future_of_cell_phones.html

2-http://cellphones.org/future-cell.html

3-http://mobile.aol.com/gallery/future-cell-phones/page1

4-http://www.informationweek.com/news/mobility/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206800816

5-http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/the-future-of-smartphones-2010-2015-and-beyond/

6-http://www.esato.com/archive/t.php/t-58881,1.html

7-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiMAX

8-http://gizmodo.com/5552226/if-lg-designed-phones-like-this-thered-be-peace-on-earth-for-all

9-http://gizmodo.com/5552176/qualcomms-dual+core-snapdragon-12ghz-chips++seen-in-a-smartphone-near-you-soon

10-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_over_Internet_Protocol#Operational_cost

11-http://www.cameraphonereport.com/future_camera_phones/

12-http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2009/06/05/ntt-prototype-phones-let-you-play-flute-check-your-blood-and-read-e-papers-video/

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The secrets under the iPhone’s multi-touch screen

12 05 2010

When talking about new technology and advancement with smart phones, it is easy to see how far they have progressed over the years. They are smaller, look better, and most importantly, they function better (specifically the iPhone).  The iPhone’s touch screen is one of the reasons why the it prevails over the rest of the competition.  The iPhone features a multi-touch screen which allows the user to control the phone with more than one finger (functions such as pinching to zoom in or out, greater functionality in games, etc.).  Unlike all other smart-phones, the iPhone’s touch screen utilizes technology that monitors changes in electrical current, instead of pressure upon the screen, which allows a much more sensitive and accurate response for the user.  Putting multi-touch and electrical current monitoring in one device leads to results that leap over the competition. [1]  If you own an iPhone, then you know how smooth and responsive the screen acts, but have you ever taken the time to think about how this revolutionary screen works? Neither have I, until now.

Basic touchscreens

Most current phones that feature a touchscreen use a different, and less advanced technology than the iPhone.  Some use pressure sensitive touchscreens, which do not allow more than one touch at a time.  Others monitor changes in the reflection of waves, which could be sound waves or beams of light. [2] A few systems measure changes in vibration caused when your finger touches the screen.  Some even use cameras that monitor changes in light.  All of these systems end up less accurate compared to the iPhone’s electrical impulse reading touch screen for many reasons. [2]

Multi-touch

The iPhone’s multi-touch screen is one of the most revolutionary user interfaces since the invention of the mouse.  It allows the user to control everything just using their fingers.  That’s easy to understand, but understanding how this technology works is a different story. Just like many other touch screen devices, the iPhone includes layers of capacitive material (it stores electrical energy).[8]  What’s different however is that the iPhone’s capacitors are arranged in a coordinate system, and the circuitry can sense changes at each point along the grid.  So each individual point on the grid generates its own signal when touched, and that information is then sent to the iPhones processor.  This allows for the phone to locate simultaneous touches in many different locations.  Because the touch screen operates using capacitors, the screen will only respond when touched with the fingertip, and will not work with a pen or other non-conductive materials.  The iPhone detects touch through mutual capacitance (Picture on the right).  This requires two layers of material.  One includes driving lines, which carry the current, and the other includes the sensing lines, which detect electrical current (touch) at the nodes. [4]

Ok, so we’ve learned what happens on the outside of the touchscreen process, but what happens internally when you touche the screen of an iPhone.

From touch, to processor

When you touch the screen, there are many steps that the impulse must undergo before you see the action take place on your phone screen.  All of these steps take place instantly.  So fast in fact, that it feels instant.  Thanks to the iPhone’s incredible processor, this is possible.  First, as explained in the previous section, a signal, or multiple signals, travel from the touchscreen to the processor as electrical impulses.  The processor then analyzes the impulse according to location on the screen, size, and shape.  The gesture-intepretation software then determines the beginning of a gesture and the end of a gesture, such as sliding your finger across the screen to unlock the phone.  It combines physical movement across the screen with whatever application you were using to determine the right instructions to relay.  The processor then sends the information to the program that is in use causing the desired action on screen.  That signal is also sent to other hardware if necessary.  If touch data doesn’t match any programmed commands or gestures, then the iPhone automatically classifies it as an invalid touch.  All of this happens every time you touch your iPhone screen, and within the blink of an eye. [6]

The practicality of multi-touch

There are many reasons why this revolutionary screen is practical for everyday phone users.  You can pinch in to zoom, which adds extreme ease of use when looking a photos or browsing the web.  You can swipe up or down to scroll through a web page or flip through your music with ease.  Looking a Google maps will never be as easy as it is with the pinch to zoom in or out.  Plus, many applications within the iPhone’s app store utilize the multi-touch function, such as games, photo apps, editing apps, music editing apps, ect (the list goes on and on).  Apple has set new standards for touch screen cell phones with the iPhone.  No other phone works as smooth and functions as well as the iPhone does, thanks to its superior technology.[7]

The future of multi-touch

Multi-touch technology is becoming one of the most practical and exciting ways to do everyday tasks.  We have seen the assortment of applications iPhone can achieve with this technology, but what is in store for us in the future of multi-touch.  Will there be multi-touch screens in the places we work.  Or maybe at restaurants as a way of ordering food or passing time by playing a game.  Will the walls in our homes no longer have wallpaper, but multi-touch screens?  The future is upon us as you read this, and these technologies will continue to advance beyond the conceivable.  All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

SOURCES

1. http://www.everyipod.com/iphone-faq/iphone-how-multi-touch-interface-works-when-developed.html

2 http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/iphone1.htm

3 http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1636

4 http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/iphone2.htm

5 http://cdn.mashable.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/diytouchscreenanalysis3.jpg

6 http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/iphone3.htm

7 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-touch

8 http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/capacitor.htm





Comparing New and Old Smartphones.

12 04 2010

Smart phones are different than ordinary phones because they offer a plethora of advanced functionality, containing software applications that can be run directly from the phone itself (Martin).These features can include email, note pad, clock, calendar, ect. When looking the release of the first smart phone in 1995 and the current generation of smart phones, the technological differences are astounding.

The First Smart Phones

The first smart phone was officially released by IBM in 1993 and was simply       called Simon (Right).  This was the first phone that had email, address book, clock, calendar, note pad, and even the ability to send and receive faxes.  Bumping up the competition, in the mid 90s, Nokia released its new smart phone (9000 series), and succeeded due to the high popularity of Nokia, and with its open operating system, it was coined as the first true smart phone. (Picture below).

The purpose of having a smartphone when they were first released was to simulate things on a phone that you could normally do on a computer.  However it fell short due to lacking wireless signals and lack of technology.  When looking at the interface and physical appearance of these old smart phones, one can be turned off.  They are bulky, no color screens, and there seems to be no ease of use (meaning it would be more beneficial to just do the work on your computer).  Luckily the new age of smart phones is upon us with the 2007 Apple release of the iPhone.

The New Smart Phones

The Apple iPhone is the most advanced smart phone to date, and has set the bar beyond where anyone had ever imagined it could go.  The iPhone features a multitouch screen, video camera capabilities, games, email, etc. (the list could go on forever).  The best feature of the phone however is the app store found right from the phone menu.  It features over 1,000,000 download-able apps and games.  This is revolutionary to the developer market, and consumer market.  People who use iPhones state that they could never go back to any other phone besides the iPhone.  The iPhone can almost do everything that your computer at home can do.  And when you have a device that can fit into your pocket, and can achieve all of these functions, it’s hard to live without.  The graph below shows the increasing popularity of the iPhone from 2007 to 2010.

The iPhones greatest competitor is the Motorola Droid series. Just like the iPhone, the Droid features a large touchscreen and a majority of the functions the iPhone can perform, but what differs is the large keyboard that is revealed when the screen is slid up.  The Droid also features an app store, but most say it fails in comparison to the almighty Apple app store.

The last main competitor in the race to be the greatest Smart Phone is the well known, RIM Blackberry.  The blackberry has all of the features you would expect a new age smart phone to have, but seems lacking in comparison to the iPhone and Droid.  It’s a matter of preference and network it seems.

When looking at Smart Phones from 15 years ago and now, there are many outstanding advancements in the technology put into these phones.   It went from having a bulky phone/calculator in your pocket to having a multifunctional PC in your pocket.  The advancement of the smart phone will never stop.  Soon we will all have a device in our pocket that could do every single task a computer could do.  It will be a device that we can’t live without, making our every day lives easier.

Sources –

http://www.articlesbase.com/cell-phones-articles/a-short-history-of-the-smartphone-847439.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Simon

http://www.pcworld.com/article/180683/first_smartphone_nokia_9000_communicator_1996.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone

http://www.blackberry.com/

http://phones.verizonwireless.com/motorola/droid/





Journal 1. New Tech

6 04 2010

New technology and media is molding our lifestyles all around us even if we don’t realize it.  Everyone of us uses an advanced form of technology (phone, computer, etc.) every single day.  And without these devices, life would be very challenging and different for us.  We are very dependent on these technologies, and without them, most of us would go crazy.

What I am learning is the radical changes the media world has been through, and how these certain media types affect my life.  I am very dependent on technology every single day of my life, and I could imagine going a month or so without them.  I value these technologies greatly, as they hep me with everyday tasks.  Things like checking my phone for important email, chatting online with friends and family through video or text, making important phone calls, and even paying all my bills through the internet.  The most important to me however is my iPhone.  It literally does everything i mentioned before, and more.  It is the number one smart phone on the market today, and I can comfortably call it one of the most advanced pieces of technology available to consumers to this date (within a reasonable price range of course).  With the ever growing app store and the soon to be released iPhone 4.0 software, there seems to be endless possibilities.   Also with the new release of the iPad, the possibilities yet again grow.  Featuring a much larger screen than the iphone or ipod touch, the ipad will trump them both with performance and usability.

With next week coming around, I really would like to explore: more about how these technologies work and are created, what steps are taken to begin production on a product, how that product is marketed, and how different people are affected by these products.  I also would like to explore the iPad a little bit more than I have, just to see how advanced it actually is.