Although it has been two decades since the first introduction of smartphones, there are already 1.5 billion smartphone users in the world out of 5 billion mobile phone users. Smartphones are changing every year, and becoming smarter and better with new sensors, powerful chips, and new capabilities. Newspapers and websites often start discussing rumors about an upcoming smartphone several months before its launch.
Over the past few years we have seen many futuristic prototypes and designs for smartphones. Smartphone users demand for better and smarter phones with new capabilities every year. Although the phone companies are surprising us with new smartphones every year, we are far from seeing some of the technologies presented in prototypes. What do you expect to see in smartphones in the next 5 to 10 years? Let’s talk about some of the technologies that will end up in a smartphone in the near future.
Some of the smartphones are already supporting inductive wireless charging out of the box. Although it is not a standard feature for most of the smartphones, wireless charging can be enabled using third-party cases and charging pads. Current wireless charging systems still require the smartphone to be placed on a pad for charging. A bigger step in charging smartphones will be touchless wireless charging. Ossia unveiled recently world's first commercially viable touchless remote wireless power system. Imagine you are walking into your house or office, and the smartphone in your pocket starts charging via beaming electric power through air wirelessly.
Smartphone displays are getting bigger and better with incredible screen resolutions even human eye can not resolve individual pixels at a typical distance. With the screen sizes getting larger, the distinction between a smartphone and tablet is becoming less clear. Some smartphones are even called phablet, a new category between smartphones and tablets, by the newspapers and tech blogs. A bigger jump in display technology will be flexible screens. There are already prototypes of 5 inch flexible displays or 50 inch curved televisions. Companies are still looking for a good use case for flexible displays in daily life. A major shift from increasing the display size will come via the use of pico-projectors. A smartphone, with a decent display size (e.g. 5 inch) for everyday use, can be turned into a full size (e.g. 30 inch) media consumption system with an integrated pico-projector. Although there are prototypes of pico-projectors embedded into smartphones, there are still many technical limitations in battery life, projection size, brightness and price.
Future of smartphones are not limited with wireless charging or display technologies. We have already seen novel technologies introduced for smartphones in prototypes or concept designs. The list of features includes nano-coating for waterproofing and self-cleaning; seamless integration of voice controls and augmented reality; solar charging; 4K ultra-high resolution and display; transparent electronics; laser virtual keyboard projection; environmental and medical sensors; and finally 3D and holographic displays. I can’t wait to see some of these technologies integrated into smartphones in the near future. What is your favorite feature?
Halil I. Demir is an internet entrepreneur and freelance writer based in Iowa, US.