Cool Stuff: The Mobile Future

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on November 30, 2015, Industry News

Think your mobile phone is as cool as it can get? New top end mobiles are pretty awesome, loaded down with features and seemingly able to do everything so that you don’t have to. Obviously though, they’re not as good as they’re going to get. In fact, there’s some very interesting developments in the offing… Wanna know what your phone will be like a year, five years, or even ten years from now? Check out our picks for the most exciting mobile developments then!

Project Ara

Project Ara is probably the tech that we’re going to be seeing the soonest, and it’s pretty darn cool. Headed up by Google, this project aims to make designer mobile phones. Not designer as in crazy expensive with someone’s brand name on it, but designer as in you can get exactly the phone that you want.

Ara works by selling a basic shell of a mobile phone, and then tons of add ons. Small boxes clip into place inside this shell giving you everything from more RAM to better screen specs to more memory and everything in between. The aim is to keep costs down (you won’t be paying for tons of memory if you’re a cloud storage lover, for example), whilst still giving customers the exact mobile that they want.

We’re huge fans of this idea, and love the idea that we’ll be able to make our own phones, as well as being able to switch out components that don’t work or that need upgrading. Project Ara should be being tested by the end of this year, and could be on shelves as early as 2016, so you won’t have to wait long!

Mobile 5G

First we had 2G, then 3G, now it’s 4G, so obviously the next step is 5G. And the tech is already under development to get us super fast mobile data speeds. Currently, 4G will get you between 50 and 100 Mbps, which is pretty speedy. 5G, however, is projected to get a massive 20 Gbps. And that’s so much faster that we can’t even do the maths to tell you by how much. What we can tell you is that a full HD movie should download in less than ten seconds. Sweet, right?

The main problem here isn’t putting this tech into mobile phones, it’s getting mobile operators to build the necessary infrastructure. Given that most networks don’t even have full 4G infrastructure yet, you’re going to be waiting a while to get 5G. Right now projections say that 5G mobile data should become reality in around 2020, though it won’t be widespread for a bit longer than that…

Full Flexibility

Foldable and flexible screens have been shown off at mobile trade shows for almost a decade now, with Samsung continuously producing more and more flexible phone prototypes. And yet we haven’t actually seen a real, working model. Part of the problem here is not the screen that can be rolled up (we can already do that), but getting the rest of the phone’s internals to roll up with it. But with research into graphene (a new material that’s exceptionally flexible as well as being great at carrying electrical signals), it looks like foldable phones are actually a lot closer than we might think.

A research lab in Canada has already made a primitive prototype of such a phone, and as we said, Samsung have long been able to make a flexible screen. Combine these two things and you’ve got a phone that you can roll up and stick in your shirt pocket. Projected timeline here? It’s tough to say, but certainly within the next ten years.

Battery Woes

Whilst most of us these days are pretty satisfied with screen specs and speeds, there aren’t many that are truly happy about the battery life in their mobile. As long as you’ve got a smart phone you’ve got a device that needs plugging into a wall at least once a day. So what’s going to happen with mobile batteries?

There are three possibilities here. The first is simply that mobile batteries are going to get bigger and better. We’re already seeing this, the battery in the Samsung Galaxy S6, for example, is bigger and better than that in the S5. Second up, there’s the potential for more solar charging options. Nokia in particular were interested in solar tech, and since they’re about to rebuild their mobile division this is something that we could see.

But maybe the most promising is charging mobile batteries through magnetic conduction and kinetic energy, which basically means that your phone would charge itself as you moved it (sort of in the same way as those watches that don’t need winding). Apple have been experimenting with this for a while, and given that this would be by far the easiest and most reliable non electronic way of charging a phone, it would make sense that this is the way of the future.

Timeline? No clue for this one. Apple wanted to use kinetic energy charging for their smart watches, but obviously didn’t get that far. Bigger batteries are definitely in the works, but non electric power sources? They could be a fair few years away.

Other Cool Stuff

There are plenty of other rumours around too. One such rumour is a company that’s allegedly working on 3D camera tech that would allow you to “walk around” inside pictures taken with your mobile, though no word on how this works or how successfully it’s being developed. We’re seeing a fair few projection tech features too, as both screens and keyboards are being beamed onto surfaces, and this has a lot of potential (imagine having no TV and instead just a smart phone and a bare wall somewhere in your home).

The bottom line here is that we ain’t seen nothing yet. Mobile tech is one of the fastest moving fields in science, and we’re likely to see something amazing happen even in the next year or so. Wait five years before buying your new mobile and you might find a device that you don’t even recognise!