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Issue of July 2006 

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Tomorrow’s phone

Look out here comes tomorrow
—Neil Diamond

Today’s mobile phones have a lot in common with personal computers insofar as they are subsuming the functions of other gadgets. Take camera phones, initially they were a joke with their VGA ‘just barely good enough for e-mail’ resolutions. Today you have Sony selling CyberShot phones with 3 megapixel cameras. Similarly you have phones that play music and store thousands of songs on teeny-tiny mobile hard drives. Web browsing and the ability to view documents have been around for quite a while.

Keeping all of the above in mind, what’s left? To get a clue on where mobile phones are headed let’s look at some of the other miniature gadgets that are around. I’m talking about gizmos like the PVPro, a 62cc projector, that works with mobile phones and uses miniature lasers to display images. Imagine something like that built into your phone and you’ll see that it would make for a formidable presentation tool. Or take the case of the Space Cube, a 2 by 2 by 2.2 inch PC, that’s right a 300 MHz, 64 MB honest to goodness computer, albeit underpowered, that’s about the size of a paperweight. Now imagine similar capabilities built into your next phone. The mind boggles.

As if that’s not enough, you have phones that are getting smarter at recognising your voice. They need to be trained by reading out a hundred or so words and then your word is their command. Take this a little further and you’ll have phones that use their cameras to recognise your face and authenticate you ensuring that nobody’s going to bother to try to steal your phone as it won’t work for anybody else. The same phone would take dictation, let you access your company’s ERP system and let you make impromptu presentations at your client’s office.

This isn’t science fiction, it’s all coming by the end of this decade. Think of where GPS might help with a map on your phone that directs you to your destination. Or perhaps even an AI that acts as your secretary scheduling your appointments and covering for you when someone you want to avoid calls. The question is, will you need a computer anymore at this point? My guess is that you won’t because by that time your phone will be your computer for all practical purposes. So here’s to tomorrow’s phone. It can’t get here soon enough for me.

Prashant L Rao
Head of Editorial Operations

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