Technological changes are so rapid and fast that most of our ancient communication devices have become obsolete and history. So much so that accessories and their repair facility has worn out. You might have heard of old vintage rotary phones, fax machines and beepers, almost all of them are an obsolete technology and rare commodity in these days. These communication devices were revolutionary upon invention, but they're now all but extinct.
What About Smartphone, will it also get Obsolete?
The smartphone is the most widely used mobile technology in the world. It's created swift and interconnected communications, offering people the ability to connect with friends and family in seconds besides has facilitated businesses with much advancement. In the technology race, today's smartphone is no exceptions and being slated for obsolescence.
Three tech innovations are already shifting mobile usage:
- Augmented reality (AR),
- Virtual Reality (VR) and
- Artificial intelligence (AI) voice assistants.
- Smartphones currently serve as a valuable conduit for these innovations by connecting us to AR worlds, VR headsets and voice assistant apps. But as software for these innovations develops and improves, smartphones will become superfluous, serving as a gateway for the tech that will cause its own extinction.
- Given the rapid advancements in AR, VR and voice technology, the smartphone’s end is likely. It’s not how will the smartphone go extinct, but when?
- In June 2017, Apple introduced its ARKit, a framework that allows developers to create mobile AR apps on the new iOS 11 platform. In September 2017, the brand announced its new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus as the earliest smartphones designed for AR. Rumors are swirling that Microsoft is developing a surface phone optimized for AR, and Huawei is said to be working on a smartphone with AR software.
- Right now, ubiquitous smartphones and tablets are the perfect hardware platform to sustain AR. They offer the necessary components for AR operations such as cameras, app installation and connectivity. There’s no better way — at least right now — to augment our world with navigational cues, real-time weather forecasts or holographic Pokemon.
- But as AR software develops, wearables and glasses will make these experiences more believable and efficient. Numerous tech companies including Samsung, Facebook and Amazon are said to be investing in further AR tech research, and by 2024, it’s estimated that head-mounted displays will encompass over 50% of the augmented reality industry share. To sustain augmented reality advancements, the hardware platform likely will evolve beyond the smartphone to goggles, glasses and — eventually — contacts or implants.
- If augmented reality is already changing the way we use our phones, VR will have an even greater impact. The current state of play allows users to experience near-real emulations in a virtual environment. Today, smartphones have made their VR debut by allowing users to connect to clunky headsets and download a related app, but you can bet that inefficient connection won’t last forever.
- By 2021, it’s expected that about 257 million VR headsets will be used with a growing compound annual growth rate of 71.8% during the period. A total of 88.5% of the headsets will be portable devices that use a new smartphone-like gadget at their core operations.
- Much like the bulky computers of yesteryear, today’s headsets will seem like an ancient relic in a few years’ time. Major electronics companies like Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia and Intel are already making heavy investments in VR tech, and plans are being made to optimize eye-tracking technology on mobile VR platforms. The HTC Vive Pre and PlayStation VR are decent and early gateways to the virtual reality playground, but new advances may make smartphones unnecessary for accessing the virtual world.
Artificial Intelligence Voice Assistants
- It’s still early days for voice recognition technology and AI voice assistants, but they can already be used separately from the smartphone. You can tell Alexa to order groceries, ask Siri to retrieve the weather and command Cortana to help you navigate around town. Computer scientist Andrew Ng estimates that by 2020, at least 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice or image.
- In the future, it’s likely AI voice control will be the main way to Google your questions, schedule appointments and take notes. Research from Gartner estimates that 20% of all user interactions with smartphones will take place through virtual personal assistants by 2019. As the 2020s progress, that percentage may grow exponentially.
- As interest in virtual digital assistants (VDAs) grows, it will inevitably launch the next generation of the Internet of Things, connecting with other objects around us and becoming an integral part of the way we communicate. Instead of wasting time typing and searching a question, you’ll command your devices to get you the answer.
- For now, smartphones will be the primary hosts for these emerging technologies, but it would be a mistake to think that they will be the only platform. Instead, thanks to significant capital and resources, it’s likely that as the fourth wave of innovation progresses, smartphones will be replaced with other devices that are more efficient, immersive and effective. The phone part of those devices may disappear or be replaced completely.
- There are varying opinions about when smartphones may become obsolete. While It depends on how quickly these technologies advance, the aforementioned Gartner report predicts that by 2020, the majority of our devices will be designed to function with limited or no touch.
- Mobile phones won’t phase out right away. Old habits die hard, and we may be far too addicted to our pocket devices to give them up entirely when new technology makes them superfluous. But one thing is for sure: AR, VR and voice technology are primed to send today’s smartphone to its grave over the next decade.