4 Wild Predictions for the Smartphones and Tablets of 2030


Reto Meier is an author, futurist and self-described "Android Developer Advocate for Google." He's also our favorite person right now, as he's outlined a step-by-step, awesome vision that forecasts what the future looks like five, 10 and even 20 years from now.

Meier is operating under the premise that "at the current rate, nearly anything is possible in 20 years." That doesn't mean that he flies off the handle in whatever direction he pleases, though. The progression is gradual. Check it out.

In one year:

  • High res screens, tablet devices, and HD output from mobiles.
  • Wireless keyboards, voice input, and gestures.
  • Lighter, thinner devices that last longer.
  • 3G/4G and WiFi covers most of industrial world. Every mobile device comes with an unlimited (or high-cap) data plan. Mobiles start interacting with other consumer electronics and cars.

Thoughts: This is pretty much where we're at right now. The difference is, not all of these things — such as the gesture control and phones interacting with other consumer electronics (they're making headway with cars) — are the standard. In a year, they could be. Meier is talking about how we could one day "control our devices using our minds," which is research that's already underway.

In five years:

  • Flexible displays and built in HD projectors.
  • Larger multitouch screens, better gesture input, and flawless voice recognition.
  • Tiny devices powered by fuel cells.
  • 4G/5G and WiFi extend to cover the entire developing world.

Thoughts: Again, we're still in familiar territory here, but things are getting better. Flexible displays the norm? Yes please. Also, 4G and 5G networks offering coverage throughout the developing world is huge. That improves communication, of course, but everything stems from that — education, for instance.

In 10 years:

  • Transparent LCD patches that can be applied to regular glasses.
  • Full virtual keyboards and voice input eliminate physical keyboards entirely.
  • Devices small enough to embed into watches and jewelery that never need charging.
  • Whitespaces or similar technology means everyone everywhere is connected at all times.

Thoughts: Jewelry and apparel with embedded tech? Probably. They make watches today that have everlasting batteries that charge with motion. The Internet going the way of radio with whitespaces would also be nice. Transparent LCDs making heads-up displays popular, though, and the disappearance of physical keyboards in 10 years? It could happen, but we have to wonder what shape today's PCs and TVs would take, then. Would these HUDs be for professionals or for everyone? Would desktops vanish entirely?

In 20 years:

  • Contact lenses that project a visual feed directly onto your retina.
  • Mind control.
  • You are the computer.
  • Connectivity is uninterrupted and ubiquitous. Losing connectivity is like losing power or running water.

Thoughts: So here we are. 2030. "The Future." We control our computers with our mind — which isn't beyond the realm of reason — and displays are built right into our vision. The craziest part, though, is the idea that we'll move away from silicon chips and toward biological computing: "The computer you inject is more likely to resemble a specialized virus than a tiny silicon chip." As for that mind control, don't put on your tin hat yet.

Radioactive Yak, via Technology Review


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