Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Your Phone is Growing Super Smart

The way you work, play and live is about to change

Published: Feb 21, 2013 06:54:28 AM IST
Updated: Feb 21, 2013 02:18:00 PM IST
Your Phone is Growing Super Smart
Image: Corbis

In the next 24 to 36 months, you will see a new generation of smartphones and a range of accessories that will change the way you work and live. 

Star Trek “tricorder”-like devices that can read a bunch of physical and environmental data to diagnose diseases or prevent emergencies; wearable devices that “listen” to us and change the way we view the world; answers that are presented to us even before we ask questions; screens that can be rolled up; information that can be manipulated using hand gestures… The list of things that smartphones are almost-ready to do is magical.

Advancements in technology underlie this magic. In display, LEDs are giving way to flexible and energy-efficient Amoleds; processing power is on the rise; batteries charge faster and last longer; sensors are getting more powerful and can detect a wider range of changes.

More importantly, smartphones will borrow much of their smartness from accessories—maybe a band around your wrist that tracks your activities, or a headset that measures your brainwaves.

One might well say, “Ah, finally!” There has hardly been any serious disruption in the devices that we carry, since the introduction of the iPhone back in 2007. From the outside they look mostly the same, while from the inside they’re distinct only by virtue of a few megahertz of processor speed or some fraction of an inch of screen size. The way we interact with them hasn’t changed much either. (Physical keyboards have only become on-screen ones.) The following pages will give you a sense of how all that will change in the next couple of years. It won’t look the same. And inside, it would have changed too. Without doubt, it will change the way you work and live.

The flood of innovations—features and capabilities—is a bit like the flood of information that the digital age opened up for us. The benefits were immense. But, it also made many of us think seriously about the age-old distinction between facts, information, knowledge and wisdom. The coming era of supersmart phones will also make us think seriously about privacy, about work-life balance and about relationships. Even the smartest phones might not have answers for that. We will have to look within.

For now, let’s get ready to embrace the exciting time ahead.

Your phone is already smart. But it is growing smarter and will soon take over your life. We tell you how:

Hampus Jakobsson on Whether Smartphones Can Become Intelligent in Future

5 Radical Designs for Future Smartphones

Smartphones: Chetan Sharma Does Crystal-Ball Gazing

Smartphones at Play

Smartphones at Work

What Makes the Phone 'Smart'

(This story appears in the 22 February, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)