9 months ago
Smartphones may be the most popular and successful products of all time, as huge numbers of people now use these devices for every part of their life – from work to leisure. The dominance of the smartphone shows no sign of ending any time soon, with 2019 bringing a new crop that will be essential purchases for many of us before the year is out. It is interesting to imagine a future in which these devices become obsolete though.
It is hard to picture smartphones being superseded by anything else at the moment when in the US alone almost eight out of every ten people has one. Indeed, they have become so central to our everyday lives that we can easily forget that they have only been around for just over a decade, with the smartphone era beginning when Apple launched its first iPhone. However, just as the rapid rate at which technology is progressing brought us these devices, it will bring about the end of smartphone dominance. For that to happen though, a tech firm has to develop something that can do everything a smartphone can as well as adding something more.
Many within this industry believe that it will be a device built around one of the emergent tech ideas like augmented reality, virtual reality or artificial intelligence that will take over from the smartphone. They argue that the next big step forward will be a device that lets the user exist within the internet rather just accessing it from the outside. This sounds incredibly exciting, but we should bear in mind the fact that attempts to develop AR and VR devices – for example, Google Glass – have met with a lot of problems.
Others are speculating that AI will provide the replacement devices, with a survey conducted by ConsumerLab of over 100,000 smartphone users finding that around half of them expected AI interfaces to be the future. These interfaces would enable people to perform many of the tasks that they currently use smartphones for without the need for screens. Again this sounds wildly futuristic, but the Chinese tech firm Huawei is already looking at incorporating AI into its smartphones. The aim is to make them more efficient when it comes to sensors, voice, image, video, and text and to enable them to offer information and services across native and outside features, content and apps. The company has launched the first smartphone with AI built into it, the Kirin 970, which means that at the moment AI looks more likely than either virtual or augmented reality to be the step beyond the smartphone. At the moment it is being used to make these devices better rather than replace them though.
AI seems to be the direction that the tech world is moving in and is set to change many aspects of our lives, including smartphones. Whether it ends up rendering them obsolete is something we will have to wait to find out.
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