Smartphone innovation: Where we’re going next

CNET identifies some of the upcoming changes we might expect in our pocket computers.

… smartphones will become increasingly impactful in interacting with our surrounding world, but more as one smaller piece of a much large, interconnected puzzle abuzz with data transfer and information.

  • “Sensitive sensors track the world in real time: …the gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, and so forth – are starting to get more friends in the neighborhood. Samsung, for instance, slipped pressure, temperature, and humidity sniffers into the Galaxy S4.“
  • “‘Appcessories’: …highly specialized peripheral software that fulfills very targeted needs, stuff that most people wouldn’t want their everyday phone.”
  • “Rise of gestures and touch-free input: …Gestures and voice may be starting the trend, but other, more sophisticated transitions and input methods will soon move from wacky option to normal ways of interacting with devices.”
  • “The larger ecosystem: …smartphones will come with more components and communications tools to interact more than ever before with people and other devices.”
  • “Wearable tech and you: …Your smartphone is still there, still essential for communicating with your environment, but it becomes only one device in a collection of other, even more personal or convenient gadgets, that solve some of the same sorts of problems in different or complimentary ways.”

Smartphone innovation: Where we’re going next. Via Small Surfaces

The Cell Phone

Forty years ago this month, Martin Cooper placed the first ever cell phone call. In this video he looks back on his invention and explains that cell phones have a long way to go before they reach their potential.

Dan Goldin while reading The Idea Factory, came across an interesting passage that explained why cell phones don’t have dial tones:

Meanwhile, Phil Porter, who had worked with [Richard] Frenkiel on the original system, came up with a permanent answer to an interesting question. Should a cellular phone have a dial tone? Porter made a radical suggestion that it shouldn’t. A caller should dial a number and then push “send.” That way, the mobile caller would be less rushed; also, the call would be connected for a shorter time, thus putting less strain on the network. That this idea-dial, then send-would later prove crucial to texting technology was not even considered.
It’s amazing that although this suggestion was made in 1971, we’re leveraging it more than 40 years later with text messaging. How many other technologies and businesses are built on top of SMS that wouldn’t have existed without this decision?

More Than Half Of European Online Consumers Own Two Or More Connected Devices

Almost three-quarters of European adults access the Internet regularly, and more than half of them own two or more connected devices, according to Forrester’s first benchmark report on the state of consumers and technology for Europe.

“Consumers in Europe are more connected today than ever before,” comments Forrester Research Director Reineke Reitsma in her blog post about the new report. She adds, however, that “Companies that want to interact with these new, perpetually connected customers will need to take into account the differences that exist between European countries.”

UK consumers are the most connected in Europe, with 83% going online regularly. UK online adults are also the most likely to own a device like a laptop (64%), smartphone (52%), or tablet (12%).

Via Cellular News.

“Mobile” computing no longer exists

Photo by Al Powers/Invision for Panasonic/AP Images

Photo by Al Powers/Invision for Panasonic/AP Images

Anyone who has an interest in the future of computing and mobile should consider the following developments:

PC manufacturers, it is rumored, are collaborating with Google on notebook computers that will run the Android operating system. Yet Android is the “mobile” OS that powers the majority of the world’s smartphones.

The gatekeeper between mobile and non-mobile computing is now largely psychological. When Schmidt says that Google will let the market decide the when and how of fusing of Google’s mobile and desktop operating systems, he is acknowledging that we all grew up with desktop operating systems, and learning how to interact with touchscreen mobile devices is still relatively fresh in our collective memory. (Not to mention the billions in the rising global middle class who have yet to purchase their first smart device.)

I believe the thesis but don’t find the evidence compelling. From Quartz.

Market app

The future of shopping? The integration of physical and digital realities is increasingly frequent due to emerging technologies such as Kinect, NFC, RFID and Smartphones, and the decreasing prices for all kinds of sensors. This provides huge opportunities for the retail companies which are able to introduce innovation as a key strategy of development and marketing.

Created by Think Big Factory.

Katherine Kuchenbecker: The technology of touch

As we move through the world, we have an innate sense of how things feel — the sensations they produce on our skin and how our bodies orient to them. Can technology leverage this? In this fun, fascinating TED-Ed lesson, learn about the field of haptics, and how it could change everything from the way we shop online to how dentists learn the telltale feel of a cavity.

New Accessory Turns an iPhone into a Satellite Phone

Mobile satellite operator, Thuraya has developed a “SatSleve” that converts an Apple iPhone into a handheld satellite phone. From Cellular News:

Only slightly larger than the iPhone itself, the adaptor provides users with the ability to turn their iPhone into a satellite phone that allows them to have connectivity beyond the coverage of traditional terrestrial networks.

Robot to care for elderly made at University of Salford

Robot to care for elderly made at University of Salford

A robot designed to help care for elderly people has been invented at the University of Salford, perhaps coming in time to help an ever increasing aging population and our ever increasing tendency to abandon them.

“Carebot” P37 S65 can be programmed to remind them to take medication and exercise, answer questions and even tell them jokes. Researcher Antonio Espingardeiro, who developed the robot, said it could help care home staff and improve residents’ quality of life. It can recognise faces and recall the requirements of each patient, he said. The robot can also be programmed with speech therapy and object recognition exercises to help people with dementia. It is capable of acting as a video link to keep in touch with doctors and family, playing games and giving updates on the news. The robot, standing at about the height of a person, can also carry meals to residents.

From the BBC.

Automatic: transforms your iPhone into a smart driving assistant


Automatic is a Smart Driving Assistant that connects your car to your smartphone and makes driving safer, more efficient, and fun.

Just plug the Automatic Link into your car’s data port (all modern cars have one/it’s the same port that’s used by mechanics). The Automatic Link talks to your car’s onboard computer and uses your smartphone’s GPS and data plan to upgrade your car’s capabilities – it can track your driving habits, give you maintenance reports and allow you to find out where your car is parked via your iPhone.


As I walked down the street while talking on the phone, sophisticated New Yorkers gaped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call. Remember that in 1973, there weren’t cordless telephones, let alone cellular phones. I made numerous calls, including one where I crossed the street while talking to a New York radio reporter – probably one of the more dangerous things I have ever done in my life.
Martin Cooper

The first public telephone call made by a man walking down the street took place in 1973. Via.

Text Message Activated Solar-powered Cellphone Charging Stations in Uganda

Text message activated solar-powered cellphone charging station in uganda

Text message activated solar-powered cellphone charging station in uganda

People living off-grid can now pay for electricity to power their phones simply by sending a text message – the cheapest method found so far.

As the absence of proper power grid infrastructure becomes more of a problem in rural areas in the developing areas of the world – in particular africa and asia, where cellphone usage continues to grow at a steady rate – an estimated 650 million cellphone users rely on off-the-grid charging to provide information such as water point mapping, or other mobile services that help improve banking, health and farming. with typical charging costing around 500 ugandan shillings, or about 0.20 dollars – the ability to maintain a full battery for those making less than a dollar a day can sometimes be difficult, or at times impossible.

In response to the growing dilemma, london-based buffalo grid have developed a text message activated solar-powered cellphone charging station to help cut electricity costs. the technology utilizes a 60-watt photo-voltaic panel, which charges a battery that is then taken to the village on the back of a bicycle. the portable micro generator extracts power from the harvested solar energy using a technique called maximum power point tracking (MPPT) – providing on-demand mobile electricity. the system is activated when a customer sends a text message to the device. once the message is received, an LED above a socket on the battery lights up, indicating that it is ready to charge a phone.

Read more.

Replacing the text message: Researchers develop ‘face messaging’

Cambridge University has unveiled a virtual “talking head” which can express a full range of human emotions.

Using the face of actress Zoe Lister, researchers at Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Lab and the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering expect that texting will eventually be replaced by “face messaging.”

Researchers say that the technology is not data heavy and will be able to work on mobile devices. The program used to run the software is just 10 megabytes in size and can easily be incorporated into tablets and smartphones.

They hope that a user will, for example, be able to send a message saying “I’m going to be late” and set the emotion to be frustrated. The recipient would then see their friend’s face repeating the message in a frustrated way.


Fixing mobile’s interruption culture

Brian Katz sounds off on some basic tenants of social etiquette.

For many people, it’s a status symbol to reach for the smartphone. “You are important, someone wants you!” You can be sitting and talking to someone, and it takes real willpower not to glance at the phone when it buzzes. “Don’t these other people know I’m important — someone needs something from me!” It doesn’t matter that you were in the middle of an important conversation or there are 10 other people around the table with you. You reach for it anyway and start typing away. A response is necessary. It has to be immediate, etiquette be damned. If Miss Manners were actually dead (she’s alive and kicking), she’d be rolling over in her grave.

The real question is whether this behavior is something we should be giving into. None of us has an issue with surfing the Web on our own time or sending a tweet or checking Facebook during a lull in the day. Yet there is a certain amount of disdain and even anger when it happens to you.

Fixing mobile’s interruption culture