Tuesday, October 01, 2013

So will we be wearing our next mobile phone?

The excitement over the summer has been about wearables when it comes to mobile technology.  Will our next device be in the form of smartglasses or smartwatches or even a smartsuit?

To be honest having got into some of the futurology that saw mobile phones becoming just a piece of jewellery in the form of a single earring I have a bad track record. I thought that we would be living in smart houses that sensed everything that went on and the handset would become the ultimate remote controller. I saw the mobile network morphing into a service provider that would be trusted to hold and manage all your personal data.  To be honest these were forecasts back in 20th century and Google and Facebook had not become the cornerstones of many lives and we did not thing the NSA would read all our data.  The Mobile Network was going to become everyones personal assistant and we would all have exemplary concierge levels of service.

What I do think that is that we will not live with a single connected device rather we will have a number of devices which will have a personal network connection to a modem that offers highspeed broadband and voice services. Some people who are happy with "popular" music can live with Spotify and YouTube whilst others will want a music device that plays back their musical collection. The same can be said for e-reader, camera, media consumption screen. Some are happy to map their run using an app on a phone whilst others have a more detailed record tanks to a Garmin Watch, in future the Watch will connect to the web via your personal modem.

As Augmented Reality develops we might expect the specialist glasses to become contact lenses or a protection device as seen with fighter pilots head up displays.

As healthcare gets involved we could start to see a number of devices that are warn to sense vital signs and mobility.  We can expect to these developed for the Defence and Old Aged markets before they become mainstream.  We might also be able to see tags used to enable smart seats, beds or toilets in connecting them to a mobile device and using proximity it will allow differentiation of different people within a building. These devices are likely to be manufactured thanks to 3D printing development rather than Samsung/Apple/Google design labs and Chinese factories.

The big issue will be that the deployment of smart buildings and thus smart cities is going to be the ability to get political buy in and consumer uptake.  Very many of the senior executives I meet alongside senior politicians and very rich individuals do not carry a phone and have no wish to do so. Thus in areas of New York, Switzerland, London, Paris and Berlin now can to build the infrastructure needed to mesh new services together?  

I think that we will see a number of prototypes come to market when it comes to wearables most of which will fail because we would be embarrassed to wear them and be seen as some form of cyborg. If the wearables could be made to look like "normal" products then fear that you are being "stalked" would force social pressure to stop use. Would you want someone with a wearable to share the changing facilities with you at your gym?

My advice to Mobile Networks invest in building the fastest best quality network, develop tools to manage ID, offer storage and form federations to innovate service fail to that and expect to fall.

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