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The Future of Mobile Devices

By Greg Craft


Remember when you got your first cell phone and all you wanted to do was call someone with it. Then you wanted to text people with it, take their pictures with it, and then take a video. Well, that’s only the beginning. Mobile devices are continuing to grow into a more integral part of our lives with each addition. When we thought we only needed a phone, we got a camera. When we thought we only needed a camera, we got the Internet. Soon, what we thought was merely a phone will become our lives inside a phone.


The mobile entertainment industry has grown immensely, estimated to be worth between $27 and $30 billion and is only expected to grow even higher to $42 billion in the next two years. With figures that high, major corporations are quickly developing new technologies that will change the way we use our mobile devices, and if you think you have all you need from your phone, you may quickly change your mind.


Physically, mobile devices have begun to take on greater improvements. They’re getting progressively smaller, while at the same time more functional. The recent release of Apple’s iPhone has opened many consumers’ eyes to the future of mobile devices. The iPhone removes the entire key pad and instead utilizes a touch screen interface, resulting in a larger screen for consumers. Apple’s introduction of touch screen devices has quickly become adopted by other mobile device manufacturers, along with the iPhone’s unique motion sensitive screen.


The iPhone’s motion sensitive screen alters the display of the content based upon the way users are holding the phone. When you rotate the phone, the screen rotates along with it. The idea of motion sensors in a mobile device has already begun to grow into something larger. NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese mobile provider, has brought this idea into mobile gaming. In late Spring 2008, DoCoMo will be releasing three new mobile devices with motion sensors that will utilize gaming interactions similar to Nintendo’s Wii. Users will be able to duck punches or guide a ball through a maze simply by moving the angle of the mobile device.


In order to bring better graphics to mobile devices, companies have been experimenting with HD content. Currently the video quality found on mobile devices is mediocre, but is increasingly growing more powerful as consumers seek out video content. A new form of the popular mpeg4 video codec has been developed by Aricet offering streaming HD video to mobile devices. Imagine watching your favorite movie on your phone in 720p HD quality, then plugging your phone into an HDTV and enjoying the same high definition video on the big screen. The new form of the codec will also offer DVD-quality video recording for cellular devices. Now you’ll be able to remember where you were after a night at the bars—I’d be sure to erase that video as soon as you can.


If video isn’t the best way to try and retrace your last steps, what about GPS? Mobile devices are becoming equipped with GPS tracking that will no longer be used just to get you from point A to point B, but also to send you alerts based solely on your current locale. Say you walk into your local grocer. You might get an alert on your phone about specials as soon as you walk in the door. Or if you walk into a department store you might get alerts about sales on something you previously purchased or looked up on the Internet.


GPS chips in mobile devices are coming quickly and they are bringing a lot more than map directions. Your cell phone will soon be able to cater to you personally. What if you are on vacation and get stuck in an airport waiting for your delayed flight? Your cell phone could notify you if someone in your contact list is in the same airport.


Mobile devices overall are becoming mini-computers in our pockets. Engineers have crammed everything we try to carry in our pockets, and then some, into one little device. We’ve begun to slowly remove our Ipods and mp3 players, the cameras have begun to take better photos and video, and now some companies are trying to remove our wallets too. Companies like DoCoMo and Cingular have been experimenting with the use of mobile devices as credit cards. Even more so, companies are testing the use of mobile devices as ordering devices at large sporting venues.


mPoria Inc., an e-commerce company, has begun testing cell phones that will give sports fans the ability to sit in their seat when they go to the concession stand. Fans send their order in for a beer and dog through their phone and then a server will bring it out to their seats when it is ready.


The mobile future has really begun to take off. Consumers want things instantly and when they’re constantly on the go, mobile devices are the best way to give it to them. While we’re all pretty happy with our phone now, the future will easily sway our opinions. I’m sure this is only the beginning of a mobile generation.