The first handheld cell phone was a revolution in and of itself, yet its heavy handset wasn’t exactly user-friendly. Decades passed and brought ever-so-ground-breaking innovations, until Apple’s iPhone changed the world in 2007.
A niche product at first, the iPhone would go on to sell close to 1.6 billion units across the globe. But its commercial success also entirely redefined the purpose of a phone. No longer a mere communication device, the smartphone became a proper multifunction tool – and arguably a means of self-extension, too. From camera lenses that could rival professional photographers’ gear to smart AI-powered assistants, brand-new features kept pushing technological boundaries at every turn.
And technological advancements show no sign of abating. So, what more could smartphones bring to the table in the not-so-distant future? Let’s take a look at some futuristic features that may soon extend the power of the smartphone.
Graphene is hailed as an invaluable nanomaterial by all tech enthusiasts. Scientists had theorized the existence of this allotrope of carbon for decades before physicists at the University of Manchester rediscovered this wonder substance in 2004.
Since then, graphene has been on-demand for its incredible properties, blending flexibility, transparency, and lightweight. And although it stands as the thinnest 2D material on record, graphene is 100 times as strong as the strongest steel. Its exceptional electrical conductivity also makes it the perfect vessel for a new generation of electronic equipment.
In fact, graphene would render smartphones close to indestructible while allowing devices to be thinner and lighter than ever. Additionally, graphene bodies might implement rapid cooling performances. Batteries could be similarly improved to last longer and charge faster. Better yet, graphene distortion may considerably enhance the performance of semiconductors. And the applications of this potentially revolutionary material could prove even more wide-ranging in the future.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)
Much like virtual reality, augmented reality has long seemed to be a wild-goose chase of sorts for smartphone manufacturers. Google launched a series of AR features on Android devices in the past years. But as conclusive as the ARCore certification is, augmented reality hasn’t exactly taken off on mobile phones.
Still, significant change might be coming as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook hinted at an AR/VR headset strategy. Despite barely any hard information on the matter, rumor suggests the upcoming headset could hit the shelves in late 2024 and be a mixed-reality device. Another tech giant is eyeing this nascent technology intently, as Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a long-term plan for users to interact with the Horizon Worlds metaverse even without VR goggles.
Full-blown immersion is still years ahead, thus. Yet AR and VR have already been put to impressive practical use on mobile devices as hundreds of gaming apps give a virtual experience on iOS and Android. And analytical forecasts show that an estimated 1.7 billion mobile AR user devices could be circulating by 2024.
Biometrics have been used for decades, although in a limited capacity. But this long-standing technology could go further than ever in actively protecting smartphone users. Replacing old-fashioned and easy-to-fake passwords, biometric authentication is already widespread to authorize access to an online service or a specific application through fingerprints.
Facial and voice recognition have also made tremendous headway. Iris signature could as well be leveraged to increase cybersecurity, among several other trends like AI-fuelled video identity verification and heartbeat pattern recognition. Such advanced features could provide foolproof protection for users accessing sensitive data or dealing with money transactions.
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Futuristic tech is impending for smartphone users, from immersive features to increasingly durable components. Of course, phone usage could otherwise fade and make room for wearable devices like AR/VR glasses and watches. But smartphones have a way of constantly adapting. And with the average person devoting a third of their waking time to their mobile device, chances are slim that smartphones will pass from sight any time soon.