Deconstructing the mobile phone

Smartphones have improved the way we organize our lives, stay in touch, entertain ourselves and ultimately communicate with the world. But what if we completely deconstructed the mobile phone? Given all the new innovations in voice technology, wearable devices and smart displays, would we still need the handheld phone we have today?

Phones are losing their touch
Simon Akeroyd, Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, Amadeus Asia Pacific

Originally designed solely to make calls, mobile phones have since come a long way –a touchscreen, camera, location services and access to the internet are standard features on most smartphones. However, we shouldn’t blindly accept the smartphone, as it is today, as the perfect device.

There have been countless instances where a longstanding, universally accepted way of doing things becomes rapidly upended by innovation and disruptions. Think of bank cheques, and how they have become almost obsolete.

Today it is an accepted norm to wake up with our phones, check them throughout the day and then plug them at night so that we can repeat the process the next day. While this is considered normal today, new technologies could easily usurp the smartphone within the next five years.

Phones are losing their touch

Technologies, such as smart speakers or virtual assistants like Siri, are supported by AI and are constantly improving their accuracy and capability to serve personalized predictions based on the user.

Gestures are also becoming a part of the mobile phone experience. Google’s latest handset, the Pixel 4, is the first time a mobile has included Improvements in voice and artificial intelligence (AI) are moving us forward at a dramatic pace. Voice a radar to power motion sensors that recognize human gestures. This means users have the ability to change songs, accept calls and swipe away alarm notifications without having to touch the device.

Essentially, the combination of hands-free devices, improved voice control technology and gestures will make our consumption of music, phone calls and messages a touchless experience. If we have voice enabled WiFi ear pods, why would we need to hold a phone?

Is the phone the best prism to view the Mixed Reality world?

Mixed Realty (MR) is a technology that combines the real world and virtual world. Where Augmented Reality (AR) simply overlays virtual objects onto the real-world, MR merges virtual objects onto the real-world environment.

As MR innovation improves, we will be provided real-time additional information about our surrounding reality. Today this mostly implies holding up your phone to see the augmented reality information layered on top of the world viewed through your phone camera lens.

Wearable technology, such as smart glasses, can be combined with virtual assistants to give the user the power to reply to interact with MR, read messages, see directions, change songs, take a photo and filter emails without having to pull out a separate physical device. The initial experiments in glasses had mixed results, but as the information gets richer and the glasses get better (even shrunk to lens size) would we still want to hold up our phones to see the MR world?

Experts are suggesting the innovation in MR, voice driven virtual assistants, and anticipatory AI will drive the development of a new mobile computing platform, taking much of the mobile experience away our personal screens and becoming integrated into the world around us[1].

Ultimately, just like the bank cheque, the smartphone will be disrupted. We accept the current state of smartphones as the norm, but in as little as the next few years, we could see the introduction of technology that will unbundle the smartphone and fundamentally change the way humans organize their lives, stay in touch, entertain themselves and communicate with the world.

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