After the Mobile Phone, What’s Next?

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Google Glass

What comes after the mobile smart phone as we know it today? We’ve been talking to experts, reading what we can, and trying to imagine possible futures.

But we’re finding it very hard to gain a clear idea about what comes next. Many experts believe that we will get more of the same, such as an ever more powerful mobile phone that operates as a hub for multiple devices, ranging from keyboards to screens and other devices controlled by the hub*.

However, the backlash against the mobile phone is strong, and might get stronger as more people get lost in their mobile devices. The potential for mobile Internet access to also dumb down the Web, such as by pushing search and text messages shorter and shorter over time to adapt to a limited screen is a problem.

Considerations such as this raise questions over future directions. Will the mobile phone tend to recede, if not disappear, in a growing mix of mobile technologies?

GOOGLE GLASS

The most obvious candidates for replacing the mobile phone will be wearable technologies, such as Google Glass.

If you accept that these technologies are at their very early, embryonic stages, then it is feasible to imagine a future in which you wear rather than carry your mobile device(s) in unobtrusive ways.

Moreover, if your wearable devices enable you to be tracked and identified, wherever you are, then you could interact through public screens in personal and individual ways. In short, we might be able to shed the mobile phone and have even greater functionality.

Regular feature phones or the first generation of mobile phones (remember those bricks) already seem dated, never mind a landline. Technology is in constant evolution, so of course it won’t be long before we look back on the technological innovations of the new millennial as being rather quaint and old fashioned.

That said, whether we continue down the same line and turn towards increasingly powerful hubs, or dispose of the mobile phone as we know it, the use of spectrum and all other communication infrastructures will become even more central to everyday life and work, and issues over privacy and security will become even more critical to our lives.   

PRIVACY IS DEAD?

Some have argued that privacy is dead, but people consistently indicate that they are concerned over the unauthorized disclosure of personal information. That said, they must too often give up privacy in order to obtain needed services. With a future that promises to track and use ever more personal and locational information, the security of that information will be absolutely essential for the peace of mind of the general public.

A real issue will be people’s loss of consciousness about their privacy when using technologies that access personal information as a matter of course. It is what probably already contributes to the absence of data protection behaviours in users today.

As we become increasingly connected in a more integrated and seamless way (for example with wearables), we risk losing even more awareness about how our use of technology ultimately affects the protection of our personal data, and arguably the personal choices and decisions we make daily.

This is why issues about personal data and security will become essential and why future technologies should be designed to constantly alert us about the dissemination of our data as a means for informing our choices and personal decisions.

Bill Dutton and Ginette Law (Bill Dutton is chair of Ofcom's Advisory Committee for England)

 *Stratechery Post: http://stratechery.com/2014/wwdc-expectations/

1 Comments

After the mobile phone

Great post!

one of the fascinating things to consider is what google glass will become.

Mobile phones (true, voice only), arose, died and appeared again in a different form, operating on a newly designed platform.

Smart phones appeared first as WAP phones, before dying out and re-appearing as proper smart phones, again operating on a new technology platform.

When goole glass dies from lack of interest as surely it must and re-appears - what form will it take?