What will the Spring of Technology bring? Part 1. Mobile Man


Predictions, dreams, and fortune-telling about the day after tomorrow in IT and beyond.


Winter is the traditional time to try to predict in which direction technology will move and develop during the coming year. But why limit ourselves to such a short period of time? Let’s try to go into “futurology and short-range sci-fi mode” and attempt to decipher the signals that our present is sending to the future. We’ll focus on, let’s say, the next five to ten years. Particularly since we, thanks to breakthroughs in the practical application of artificial intelligence, have once again entered a fascinating “Spring of Technology” period.


People love mobile devices. The all-knowing statisticians say that by early 2023, the number of mobile users had reached 5.44 billion (68% of the world’s population), demonstrating an increase of 168 million users over 12 months. In 2023, around 1.45 billion smartphones were sold, with that figure expected to reach 1.78 billion units in 2028. 


To put it simply, the day is not far off when every person on the planet will have their own mobile IT device. Even infants. It is not so difficult to imagine some gadget, like a bracelet, which will not only report an infant’s various physiological data, but utilize AI to interpret the babble of a child who has not yet learned to speak into “adult” language.


We think that this simple prediction serves us well as a bridge to our next question, “What will mobile devices be like in the near future?” It is worth remembering that humans are nomadic hunter-gatherers by origin. And somewhere in our subconscious we are still haunted by the idea of a universal personal assistant that is always with us. 


We are sure that many of our readers still remember the last spring of technology, during which button cellphones developed explosively. They were created to fulfill a single purpose – to provide mobile voice communication. However, with incredible speed, they then acquired additional functions. And, for the most part, these new functions had nothing to do with telephony. It is interesting that often new innovations were not developed by mobile phone designers, but by amateurs who rewrote existing cellphone software. Cellphone designers discovered that there was a demand for phones to do more than just make calls and store contact information. People wanted to use their mobile devices to listen to music, look at pictures, read news and books, play games, check email, and so on and so forth. Catching the wave, mobile manufacturers rushed to satisfy the market’s  desires. How did it turn out? Everything possible was squeezed out of button cellphone technology, and after several years of stagnation the current reigning technology, the ubiquitous smartphone as we know it today was born. A computer with a touch screen interface that occupies almost the entire surface of the device’s front side. Interestingly, the appearance of something similar was predicted ten to fifteen years before the first iPhone. At the time, in the 1990s, many people thought that the realization of this prediction was far off in a very distant future. A crewed flight to Mars seemed to be a much less fantastic proposal.


Today we observe approximately the same cellphone environment as seen at the beginning of the century. For a long time smartphone creators have not offered us anything fundamentally new, instead focusing on solving horizontal tasks, like a little better camera, a little more powerful processor, a little more memory… At the same time, attempts to push the envelope have often looked like a return to the past. Yes, you guessed it, we’re talking about foldable smartphones.


As far as we can judge, the solution to the problem of vertical progress in mobile devices has nothing to do with the search for a new form factor. Why? Look at your hand. That is the main limitation for imaginative design. So, it is quite possible that current designers and developers are not so wrong, mostly focusing on improving the standard smartphone’s stuffing. This does not change the fact that this stuffing must, at some point, become fundamentally different. And this evolution will definitely occur. In order for this to happen it is necessary to change our very idea of what a smartphone is.

What is a modern mobile device from the point of view of most people – both users and IT specialists? That’s right – a desktop’s younger sibling. Most websites and software products are first created for desktops and then adapted into a mobile version. As a rule, mobile versions are simplified and with trimmed functionality compared to their desktop counterparts. But, there is a feeling of change in the air and the idea of focusing on smartphones is not as counterintuitive as it first seems. Have you noticed that the classic desktop, by and large, has lost its competition with the laptop, which is essentially a mobile device as well? Turning most users’ smartphones into their primary computer looks like a logical next step.

What will it look like?

The smartphone itself will not change much in appearance. However, its functionality will increase dramatically, both through peripherals and, of course, through software. Smartphones will play the role of the main unit of the computer. Instead of a desktop, there will be a base for the smartphone on a table, to which a monitor and keyboard will be connected. In the future, all of this will be unnecessary – the screen and keyboard will both be projected as a holographic image. The next step will then be to abandon the base – the smartphone itself will be able to project a large holoscreen and full-size keyboard. 

Surely, in time, the above-mentioned abilities will also be acquired by smartwatches. Admit it, haven’t you dreamed of talking to a hologram of your interlocutor in the style of Star Wars?

However, much more important than these technical improvements will be fundamentally new software. It will bring smartphones to a qualitatively different level, transforming the device into a universal personal assistant, which people have been dreaming about since the first cellphone appeared. You must have already guessed what we are going to say. Yes, you’re right. This software will be based on artificial intelligence. In fact, it will be an AI assistant, or rather a team of AI assistants for all occasions, freely supporting voice and text dialog. Such smartphones will search the Internet, answer any question, perform simultaneous multilingual translation from any language, make regular payments, monitor health, plot routes, assist with driving (or driving independently), warn of dangers, and so on and so forth.

Believe us – we are not making this prediction because of our professional connection to the topic of artificial intelligence. The fact that we have the honor of belonging to the Pitch Avatar team does not prevent us from seeing AI rapidly penetrating into all spheres of life.

Of course, for a full-fledged real-time interaction between a smartphone and its user, you will need an additional device that simultaneously outputs audio and visual information and, at the same time, leaves your hands free. Something like glasses with earbuds. Of course, it won’t be something bulky like current virtual reality helmets and goggles. Designers (and modelers, where would we be without them?) will strive to create something compact and sleek. Like regular glasses – sunglasses or for vision correction. 


And with the help of this hypothetical device it will be possible to experience augmented reality and dive into virtual reality. But, for more about this you will have to wait for the next chapter of our future-fantasy.


Source: Pitch Avatar Blog

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