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A world without smartphones

The death of the smartphone is nigh. Ok so ‘nigh’ may be a bit premature, but few saw the smartphone taking the world by storm. Equally, how many of us would be comfortable forecasting the decline of this ubiquitous symbol of modern life?

I foresee a day in the future, perhaps even during this generation where we look back on a time when everyone carried these smartphones which were wired into our ears and we think that such a culture was medieval. The people who have those thoughts, what does a world without smartphones look like to them? Well very much like the world of today for a lot of people.

Next year around two billion people on Earth will use smartphones, but the uptake of these devices is reaching a plateau in many markets. The US is slowing at 58% adoption and the UK is coming in at around 61%. But what about the remaining 5 billion people?

Personal content without a personal device

As people who are interested in how content is consumed and delivered, we’re already thinking of interesting new ways of how we can approach the challenge of delivering personalised content without a personal device.

On the top of my list of technologies to lookout for to achieve this, includes the touchless interfaces and wearable interfaces being created by Google’s ATAP group with Project Soli and Jacquard. The former is a way of using radar technology to pick up hand gestures, and the latter is looking into a way to weave touch circuitry into our clothes. These are customisable interfaces without the need for a smartphone.

In the field of displays, we’re keeping an eye on autostereoscopic displays. Multi-view displays which change their view depending on the perspective you’re standing in. Much like how a hologram operates. A personalised view when you’re out and about, without a smartphone.

Then comes the work being done with parametric speakers, speakers that can broadcast to a very narrow area so only an individual can hear a message rather than a crowd. A personalised message without smartphones and headphones.

When we look at how we leverage personal data, we also need to consider how we deliver the personal content that comes off of the back of that. Sometimes we rely too heavily on the most popular medium of the time. First it was radio, then TV and now it’s the mobile web. It’s cool to consider what we’d do in a future where what we have didn’t exist, because chances are, the opportunity to take advantage of that medium exists today.