According to countless analysts, wearable tech (Google Glass, Android Wear, the much-discussed-but-still-unofficial iWatch) is the Next Big Thing. It’s already here; it just hasn’t taken off yet, but shipments are tipped to hit 373m by 2020 (or, more optimistically, 485m by 2018).
What we’re looking at here are four mobile technologies that aren’t yet a reality, and that we’re actually really looking forward to – despite being all old and cynical and stuff.
As per Mobot tradition, I’m adding coffee to brain and blurting things out in a largely random order. Ready? Go!
One of the biggest problems in mobile tech (I’m talking strictly #firstworldproblems here) is that mobile phones are arguably too small for some things (watching movies, for example), while tablets are too large to shove straight in your pocket.
That goes some way to explaining the continued rise of phablets, but even then you’re sacrificing the portability of a mobile, and still not quite matching the display real estate of a tablet. DILEMMA.
Imagine, then, a world in which your tablet folds in two - or even three - when you no longer need the girth; perhaps you’re simply composing a text message, or about to make a call, or maybe you just want to shove the thing in your purse.
Expect Samsung to lead the charge here. Last year we heard Sammo had shown off foldable devices behind the scenes at an in-house tech conference thingy, while more recently we were told such a device could debut as early as CES/MWC 2015. THAT’S NEXT YEAR. Ooh baby.
Proper wireless charging
Ah, here’s where our cynicism nodules start sweating profusely. Wireless – sorry, “wireless” – charging. Yes, wireless charging is already a thing, but slight problem: it’s not really wireless.
In its current incarnation, you still have a mobile charger, with wires; you’re simply afforded the slight luxury of not having to physically plug the charger in, instead resting your mobile on some sort of pad or in a cradle. Contact? Yes. Wires? Yes. Wireless charging? Don’t be silly.
What we’re really looking forward to is the scenario wherein your phone starts charging as soon as you walk into a room. In technical words: near-field magnetic resonance (NFMR) charging.
Apple has already patented such technology, with an accompanying diagram depicting a mouse, keyboard and iPod powered by an NFMR-equipped iMac. Now that’s wireless charging.
When Google gave its youngest child, Motorola, up for adoption to the highest bidder (Lenovo), it kept one of Moto’s most interesting toys, namely the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. “We like epic sh*t,” says the team. “The future is what we choose to make. We make what we believe in.”
Headed by the oddly attractive Regina Dugan (I think it’s the Power thing), she formerly of DARPA, the ATAP group is beavering away on – among other things – something called Project Ara, which concerns itself with customisable or “modular” phones.
The idea is that you’ll be able to build your own phone, right down to each individual component, so if you’re not bothered about smartphone cameras, maybe opt for a cursory 5MP unit – or leave it out entirely. Don’t use Bluetooth? Don’t add it. Not convinced by NFC? Not a problem. Is 720p enough for you needs? To hell with 1080p and QHD displays. It’s all up to you.
There’s still lots to iron out, like security (someone recently pointed out that individual components could surely be picked off and pocketed with abundant ease), while support from component makers will be absolutely crucial; price, too.
In any case, cool idea, bro.
4G is still a relatively new technology in the UK. EE 4G will shortly celebrate its second birthday, though Vodafone and O2 are just about to turn 1. Babies, they are. Babies.
Still, that hasn’t stopped us asking the inevitable question: “Where the fug is 5G?” The answer: probably about 6-8 years away.
For what it’s worth, professional clown Boris Johnson reckons London will have 5G by 2020, which would put the nation’s capital on a par with world leaders like South Korea.
EE guy Professor Andy Sutton reckons 2022 is more likely, but concurs that the technology could be ready come 2020.
Next question: “How fast is it, Jeeves?” Fast enough to download a movie in one second. Bring it on, Boris.