What do you think mobile phones will look like in ten years’ time?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 07, 2020 08:23 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 07, 2020 08:24 AM

During the next ten years, there will be attempts to break out from the size constraints of a fixed screen. Whether any of these will be mature enough to succeed within the ten year time frame, I’m not so sure.

Technologies may include:
Rollable pull out screens, which allow for a small pocketable device with a potentially large screen stretched out on demand
Foldable, seamless screens, which stack up in the current phone form factor, but fold out to, for example, 3 panes side-by-side
As more surfaces, such as walls, can cheaply be turned into giant display screens with rolls of OLED wallpaper, a simple protocol (AirPlay) to request any surface to show your stuff
In-eye projection, where a beam from a head mounted accessory is sent to your retina
HUD screen, where eyeglasses are used to display an image in your field of vision
Built-in projectors in phones

And as seen in science fiction:
A breakthrough in holographic light field rendering
A breakthrough in brain-computer interfaces
Projector implants embedded in eyeball, which are convenient for advertising purposes, as closing eyelids doesn’t affect viewing. And just imagine the alarm clock apps.

There have been various prototypes and concepts shown in the last years, but ten years is a relatively short time. Some technologies will be too awkward to use in real life (built-in projectors), some will not meet the economic realities of mass manufacturing in time (ultracheap large display surfaces everywhere) and some will stubbornly remain 10 years in the future (holography).

I find Google’s attempts at creating a HUD display interesting, as such a device could be turned into a marketable hardware accessory by a design savvy company (cough, not Google, cough). I think the tech for rendering good enough image quality for the mass market is not yet there, though.

My bet is on someone figuring out a seamless foldable screen, and even that is tough in just ten years, as you need to make it rigid enough to survive every day use. Keeping it thin, while still incorporating multitouch and haptic feedback, is going to be hard. And after all that work, it might not even prove popular. Maybe the current form factor will prove to be the sweet spot for mobility.

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