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Cellphones Technology

What's Next For Smartphone Innovation 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the integrated-cloaking-device dept.
SternisheFan sends in an article about the new features and developments we can expect out of smartphones in the near future. The shortlist: more sensors for tracking the world outside the phone, more gesture-based (i.e. non-touch) input, and integration with wearable computers like smartwatches and Google Glass. From the article: "These under-appreciated components -- the gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, and so forth -- are starting to get more friends in the neighborhood. Samsung, for instance, slipped pressure, temperature, and humidity sniffers into the Galaxy S4. They may not be the sexiest feature in your phone, but in the future, sensors like accelerometers will be able to collect and report much more detailed information. ... In addition to air quality, temperature and speed of movement are also biggies. [Also, a smartphone that can] track your pulse, or even double as an EKG, turning the everyday smartphone into a medical device. ... [For wearable computing,] your smartphone is still there, still essential for communicating with your environment, but it becomes only one device in a collection of other, even more personal or convenient gadgets, that solve some of the same sorts of problems in different or complementary ways." What do you think will be the next generation of killer features for smartphones?
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What's Next For Smartphone Innovation

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  • Innovation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @03:55PM (#43441993)

    Simply adding existing sensors to phones is not 'innovation'. It's the logical outcome of miniaturization and reduced power requirements, despite what the marketing says. Between Apple and most of the car manufacturers the word 'innovation' seems to have lost all meaning.

    • Re:Innovation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @03:56PM (#43442003)

      I should add that the 'killer feature' for smartphones at this point should be a much better battery life, or better durability. Everyone I see raves about how thin a phone is and then slaps it in a rubberized case that at least doubles the thickness.

      • Re:Innovation (Score:5, Informative)

        by greenfruitsalad (2008354) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:21PM (#43442141)

        durability AND battery life. not OR. these 2 features are the only 2 i would happily pay extra for. i don't need the phone to glow blue when orcs are near, pluck my nose hair or keep my crotch cool in summer. I want it to be soft&bendy (TM) so I can sit on it (with keys/coins in the same pocket) and i don't want to have to carry a 5 year old nokia in my bag in case i actually need a phone for emergency, because there's 80% chance my main phone will be out of juice when i need it most.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Every see a gadget magazine run a feature on a phone because it has incrementally better battery life? No? New features it is!

      • Re:Innovation (Score:5, Interesting)

        by epiphani (254981) <epiphani.dal@net> on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:53PM (#43442315)

        Durability is not generally designed into current smartphones. Intentionally. Think about the volume of sales, and how they would decrease, if devices didn't break within about 2-3 years. In fact, durability nearly sank RIM - as most people were comparing new iPhones with the original bold - released at the same time as the original iPhone.

        2-3 years is an eon in mobile right now. If devices don't die, people don't upgrade.

        • of course, because people only upgrade their phones when the old one is broken, not because the new phone is newer bigger faster stronger
        • Re:Innovation (Score:5, Insightful)

          by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:59PM (#43443961)

          Durability is not generally designed into current smartphones. Intentionally.

          No not intentionally. The lack of durability is a side-effect of producing a device that will sell in the market. People don't want to lug around a brick. People seem to fall over themselves to have screens that extend to the edge of the bezel, a phone that is 0.2mm thinner than the previous one on the market, and a giant glass touch surface. You can't make a phone like that rugged as one of those features will give.

          There are plenty of semi-rugged and rugged phones on the market. They don't sell well. Catapilla has a rugged IP67 smartphone with rubber bezels and is about 3 times the size of the iPhone while having a smaller screen. The Sony xperia Go is also IP67 rated though not rugged. None of these phones are in the same league or even playing the same game as the top selling brands.

          One key feature of covers is they can come off. I don't have a cover on my phone at home. I do when I'm at work. I'd have broken my phone many times over if it weren't for the cover, but that doesn't mean that I need or want a rugged brick in my pocket.

          As for sales and obsolescence, I see very few phones get sold because a previous one breaks. I often see smarphone screens get replaced for $100 at the local Chinese phone repair stand, but rarely do I see an upgrade occur due to a break. On the other hand a contract expires and people toss their perfectly good phones into a drawer because they get the latest shiny product for "free" when they renew their contract.

      • Durability, battery life, and better quality voice. AT&T is working on "HD voice" but I want all cell providers to bump voice quality up.
    • Depends what they do with the sensors.

      • Re: Innovation (Score:4, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:45PM (#43442273)

        Depends what they do with the sensors.

        Why they track you of course. What else? Look, nobody needs to have their phone tell them the humidity or air pressure.

        What is that all about?

        Its for crowd sourcing local weather, (or at least the weather in your pocket or purse). But all of that is for someone
        else's benefit, not the phone owner. If you were able to legislatively forbid the transmission of temperature, pressure,
        humidity across the network, would there still be any rational reason to include these sensors? I would say probably not.

        • Is there a reason to have an accelerometer in a phone? Probably not, until some genius figures out he can write a program to figure out 0 to 60 performance of your car by using it.

          • by MrLogic17 (233498)

            Time to brush up on your physics. Gravity is acceleration, even if nothing is moving.

            Accelerometers tell a phone which way is down, if you've rotated the phone, movement gestures, etc.

            Some phones have apps to alter ringtones if it's left face up vs face down. That's the accelerometer sensing that.

      • They improve the accuracy of drone strikes.
    • innovation - the introduction of something new If your going to argue over the semantics of the word look it up. Adding on little sensors is the exact definition of innovation. Furthermore, this is a perfect example of convergence theory. It will reach a point were nearly anything and everything will be accessible right there on your phone. With the advancements in biotechnology and human computer interfaces, it wont be long before the phone will become an integral part of us, literally. The real question
    • By that measurement, smartphones, themselves, would not be regarded as innovative because they all used existing technology.

    • I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @06:29PM (#43442927)

      Simply adding existing sensors to phones is not 'innovation'.

      I disagree. There are a million different kinds of sensors that could be added. Innovation is almost NEVER about parts that are wholly new. It's about combinations of things that at first are not apparently that much related and using them in, dare I say it, innovative ways.

      A light sensor for example, I personally would not have thought to add to a phone to use to turn off the display when held to the face. I'm not saying it's Apple that did that first, but that to me is a true innovation despite light sensors being around forever.

      Even figuring out a clever use for sensors already put in phones can be innovative.

      I would also note that just because sensors get smaller and need less power it's not exactly obvious that they should go a in a personal computing device. X-Ray sensors are probably smaller and use less power than they used to but I don't find it an obvious fact they will be in future phones.

      On a side note, those who proclaim nothing Apple has ever done is innovation are truly the ones who have robbed the word of real meaning. In an effort to spite Apple they have made true innovation an impossible goal.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Simply adding existing touchscreens to phones is not 'innovation' neither. But still meant a big deal for a lot of people. The right sensors could have a lot of extra meaning, despite that don't imply really new technology.
    • Smartphones are toys which we will eventually get bored of. Adding sensors might interest special interest groups but most users wont have a use for them. Remember the digital watch?

      • A digital watch! Wow! That's a pretty neat idea! ...
        Hey, anybody know where my dolphin went?

      • Smartphones are toys which we will eventually get bored of.

        I disagree. In the first two weeks of April I've tracked 125 miles (200km) of cycling, running, and walking. I've used the calendar a few times to tell me where the next meeting is. I've read some pages from an ebook while traveling by train. I've taken 16 photos. I've even received four phone calls in that time. I could carry around specialized devices for all these functions, but it's much easier to carry a smartphone.

        I don't think we'll get bored, and if something even more amazing comes along, then grea

  • by fisted (2295862) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @03:55PM (#43441995)
    reasonable battery life. I stick with my dumbphone until that happens.
    • by auric_dude (610172) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:50PM (#43442297)
      A privacy app where the user has complete control of everything be it leaking information & data to social networks, their affiliates, partners and assorted purchasers of such stuff. Something along the lines of http://tosdr.org/ [tosdr.org] or the slumbering https://www.eff.org/press/archives/2009/06/03-0 [eff.org] .
    • reasonable battery life. I stick with my dumbphone until that happens.

      The iPhone 5 today, gets around two days of battery.

      However a significant portion of the battery use is LTE. If you are willing to have a somewhat slower network, the iPhone may make it three or four days (can't confirm, have not tried).

      The point is that if battery life is an issue for you, then look at a platform that has all along been ensuring that battery life is preserved when possible.

      • by mactard (1223412)
        Your battery life is going to be better on LTE if you're in an area where the coverage isn't too spotty. LTE = terrible battery life is a 2 year old meme. It doesn't hold up now that we have integrated 22nm radios.
        • Your battery life is going to be better on LTE if you're in an area where the coverage isn't too spotty.

          Well most of us live in major cities where even just buildings alone, never mind off cell tower coverage, ensure that is not the case.

          I'm currently using Verizon, which I would say has better coverage than anyone. There has yet to be a major city I've visited (Denver, San Francisco, Minneapolis) where coverage strength has not been all over the place. I don't really care because two days is enough batt

          • by mactard (1223412)
            I live in the bastion of wilderness better known as the South Loop in Chicago, so I understand urban cell-tower issues. Physics would dictate that your LTE signal, at 700MHz, is going to be better than your CDMA signal at 1900MHz. Not to mention, the difference in speed means that it spends more time sleeping instead of at full power (more physics?). Try turning LTE off for a day. Your battery life will be much worse. That's why Apple could squeeze in a bigger screen, a faster CPU and more RAM with the same
        • Also, 'tard, I must take exception with your mischaracterization of LTE battery life being terrible. I don't think two days is terrible at all. I am simply stating the fact that it's even better using 3G, and from some experience the gain will be noticeable.

    • by digitig (1056110) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @05:41PM (#43442651)
      I really miss the ability to make phone calls on the things.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Using humans as energy source would make them usable for extended periods of time, and won't be a great innovation neither, Matrix did it before.
    • I think my Galaxy Note II would easily match your dumb-phones battery life for the same usage scenario, it's the games, using maps and browsing the web that kill the battery.

      I charged my phone yesterday, after 22 hours it's at 95% battery.

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @03:57PM (#43442005) Homepage

    Given that the touchscreen is at best imperfect for keyboard use, bringing back an integrated physical keyboard (e.g. a slider) back to higher-end models would be an innovation.

    There is only so far a touchscreen can go before a full array of physical buttons outclass the screen - especially when it comes to input that doesn't have direct sight.

    • by rueger (210566) * on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:44PM (#43442267) Homepage
      bringing back an integrated physical keyboard

      God yes! I'm sure that touchscreen is just divine in southern California, but if you're in the rain, or snow, or it's cold, or your fingers are numb, it's useless. More than once I haven't even been able to answer a phone call because it was raining and the touchscreen was non-responsive.

      The thing that smart phone makers seemed to have missed is that an awful lot of what you use a smartphone for actually requires typing, navigation, and desktop-like functions. As much as I've generally like my Samsung/Nexus phone, I'll probably go Blackberry next time just to have a real keyboard - especially if I can remap some of those keys.
    • Given that the touchscreen is at best imperfect for keyboard use, bringing back an integrated physical keyboard

      I would be with you except that any keyboard that fits in or around a smartphone is ALSO imperfect. I HATED all of the physical keyboards, even the Blackberry... I can type more accurately and with larger keys on a virtual on-screen keyboard.

      That is why they went away, because they really are not better at all.

      • Try not looking at your screen and trying to type - spontaneously. The lack of feedback from that screen is going to make that harder compared to having less time dedicated to looking at the keyboard versus looking at the screen and getting more precise feedback from the keyboard.

        That flat touchscreen just doesn't cut it when the touchscreen ends up being out of order.

        • Try not looking at your screen and trying to type - spontaneously.

          Ok, works fine.

          That's because touch-typing relies not on having a keyboard but muscle memory about where the keys are. Which works fine on a touch screen when you have been typing on it for a while.

          I can type "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" without looking, with only the word jumped (turned into junkie by autocorrect) needing fixing.

          • I can type "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" without looking, with only the word jumped (turned into junkie by autocorrect) needing fixing.

            It's amazing what autocorrect will tell you about a person.

    • by gmuslera (3436)

      Thats the main feature that i miss from the N900 in my N9. The touchscreen keyboard is very bad, or could use swipe, but still feel like wearing boxing gloves when using it compared with what used to do with the sliding keyboard.

      And if well in console have a translucent keyboard to not use screen state while typing, what is still not translucent are my fingers. There are some tests on transparent screens to use the back of the cellphone as keyboard or to interact without putting your hand in the middle, t

      • by sethstorm (512897)

        That's why I jumped from the N900 to a Captivate Glide once they decided against the N950.

    • I've used slider phones, and others with physical keyboards like Nokia and Blackberry. I type faster on my iPhone than on any of those with physical buttons which would be a step backwards. Bigger screens and longer battery life would help but we're in solid evolution territory now. Expecting massive changes in smartphone design seems unrealistic given how well they now work. I've not even bothered to move from my iPhone 4 because the screen, apps and battery life all fit my needs.

  • Mooshiness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @03:58PM (#43442011)

    The next killer feature for smartphones will be phones that you can sit on - well sit on and not break.

    Also, I expect to see them become a little more distributed. A "brain" you leave in your pocket 99% of the time plus seperate UI devices like pebble watch + headset or even google glass.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:05PM (#43442047)

    Lethal injection needle, of course.

    • Post something against the government, receive lethal execution. Then their organ harvesting vans could pick them up promptly, aided with the location feature of the phone.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Playng an MP3 that say "I have a bomb and plan to use it" as soon as the GPS detect that you are in an airport could work as well as killer feature. In fact, that would be a nice cyberwar threat, to plant an app that does just that in a lot of vulnerable cellphones.
  • by St.Creed (853824) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:06PM (#43442053)

    ... so I expect more sensors in the next wave. And improvement in quality of the existing ones.

    After that, I expect some work on the API's for these sensors. And I expect to see basically ANY type sensor that can be miniaturized in a cheap and effective package to appear on the phone. I've already seen Geiger counters you can attach to a phone - if you could make them small enough, the Japanese market is yours.

    Also nice:
    - A good (near-medical quality) heartrate monitor is doable right now, but would benefit from better color detection in the camera and for Android, a better API. It only works on iPads right now.
    - Stereo microphones would help a lot for sensing distance and possibly volume of rooms.
    - An inbuilt laser for medium distance measurement would combine VERY nicely with a lot of other sensors.
    - that extreme wideband radar that can see through walls and clothing
    - infrared sensors

    As for other features: apart from the sensors, the communication and the processing power? I think user interface options like laser keyboards. And output options such as the pico-beamers you can already buy. It all needs to become much smaller, but then it would certainly add value.

    The main feature: energy storage. We really need better batteries.

  • I can't give a whole answer but I when I had a flip phone I really felt like I was a train conductor in the 1800s pulling out my flip phone to check the time. I still feel that having this big lump in my pocket is fairly stupid. I do like the idea of a watch seeing that it was a convenient replacement for the pocket watch. But it has three failings that I haven't seen and can't think of how to solve and those are getting the sound into your ear, viewing a larger screen, and how to type text messages into yo
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:07PM (#43442065) Journal
    You read any issue of popular science or popular mechanics 50 years ago. All the science fictiony futuristic thingies have come true on the electrical side. TV that hangs like a picture on the wall? Done. Video phones? Done. The entire knowledge of human race at your fingertips? Done. (Though a little disappointed 50% of the knowledge of human race consists of cat videos).

    Now on the mech engineering side. Where is my commuter car-plane that is parked on my drive way? huh? What about the high speed trains running in vacuum tunnels going from NY to LA in 90 minutes? Still the same internal combustion engine burning the same damned oil. What happened to crystallic fusion? Dont tell me "aah, we got double As".

    Civil, you are not off the hook either. Where the hell is my damned home that is mounted on a pivot that tracks the sun? All engineering fields except electronics have been slacking on the job and have a very disappointing track record.

    • by a_mari_usque_ad_mare (1996182) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @06:00PM (#43442757)

      Actually, there is quite a bit new in mechanical engineering. You may not be aware of these advances because these things to do not necessarily translate into consumer products or marketing, despite the fact that they solve useful problems and improve our lives.

      In materials we have composites, which are extremely strong for their weight. Tough to design, though. Like computing, this started around the 60s and has become more and more sophisticated. The Boeing 787 and other planes use modern composites to greatly reduce weight and save fuel. We have much better steels and other metals than a generation ago, for example google dual phase steels.

      Biomedical engineering is mostly mechanical engineering; it involves the design of medical implants. Modern materials can make stronger and lighter replacement bones such as hips. Artificial organs are on the horizon, a real artificial heart has been built and used successfully.

      In fluids, we have much better and more optimized airplanes. With computers and the Finite Element Method (FEA), aerodynamics has become much more quantifiable and less model testing is needed. I'm actually glad that aircraft have not been sold at the amateur, consumer level. The way people drive in North America, flying cars would end our so-called civilization. Fluids has also helped design more efficient engines and generators.

      All the things I mention solve real problems, and may be classified under the umbrella of mechanical engineering. Its a broad field, so abit hard to define, but in my view anything that requires non-trivial application of mechanics, materials, or thermodynamics can be called mechanical engineering.

    • by afgam28 (48611)

      The commuter car-plane was a bad idea in the first place. If anything it would be the sci fi writers - not the mechanical engineers - who failed.

      Also, I don't think it'd be hard to build a home that tracks the sun. There are plenty of revolving restaurants all around the world. But like the flying car, it's just more trouble than it's worth for most buildings.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Electrical engineers have delivered because they aren't hampered by social problems. Putting a flat TV on the wall involves only a little cost to the consumer that is able to payback the R&D budget. The rest of the things on your list? Well lets look at them one at a time:

      Flying cars? Driving cars on the road is currently the biggest cause of death in most western countries. Now we want to put people in the air, in a contraption that has a minimum speed and requires potentially years to master vs 6 mont

  • There are a number of startups out there really focused on getting money transfers going for cell phones. Like this one [sfgate.com].

    Based on the number of companies doing it, and their high profiles, I would guess that doing money transfers on phones is something that is about to take off soon. The hurdles are mostly regulatory and network based (you need to connect with the network), and with so many people trying to take on the problem, I imagine one of them at least will be able to make it through.
    • by icebike (68054)

      Money transfers via phone already exist, however they have been effectively road blocked in the US by the carriers. Its much more common
      in Japan.

      Why carriers get a veto over payment by phone is beyond me. Its just TCP/IP and a short range transceiver. Google introduced NFC payments only to have every network except one step up and block it, even if your phone is properly equipped.

      I want my car keys, house keys embedded into my phone, with a separate battery that lasts as long as the battery in my Car's K

  • Tricording (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Duh.

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:23PM (#43442147)

    ...the future is here:

    http://www.google.com/patents/US20120040655 [google.com]

  • KB (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Swoopy (101558) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:35PM (#43442207)

    I want my slide-out keyboard to return. In Europe. On an Android 4.2.2+ phone with sufficient horsepower and working memory, please?

    • It's LTE so it should theoretically be global. Slide-out keyboard and all the other bells and whistles...1.2GHz dual-core A9, 1GB RAM, microSD slot. Slightly lower-res screen (4" 960x540, still entirely reasonable) but other than that it's entirely adequate. Runs 4.1 stock, I'm sure Cyanogen or AOSP is up to date though.

      Specs [motorola.com]

  • That's what I want. A full surface screen.

    That could make your phone beautiful.

  • With Smartphones used so much for photography now, it's sad that we don't have at least 1-2x optical zoom on most phones.

    Medical sensors are definitely more important. But I believe optical zoom would be used more overall.

    And yes, it would be innovative because it's apparently a very difficult problem to solve on a massive scale and within a marketable pricepoint.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      With Smartphones used so much for photography now, it's sad that we don't have at least 1-2x optical zoom on most phones

      Look at the size of the lens on even a low end digital camera that has optical zoom. There is a reason why digital cameras take better pictures than phones and it has nothing to do with how many megapixels there are. When gathering light, through a lens, size matters.

  • by ebob (220513) * on Saturday April 13, 2013 @05:14PM (#43442459) Homepage
    I don't mind the rush to add more features to phones, but I wish more effort could be spent on the obvious missing feature: better voice quality. Now that internet bandwidths are high enough to stream HD video, why can't we have intelligible voice communication? I can make a VOIP call from my smartphone that sounds like a land line. But a regular phone call is often so garbled that you spend more time saying "WHAT?" than communicating.
    • Amen, brother!

      The audio quality of cellular voice calls has been falling for years. My first analog cell phone sounded pretty darn good when I wasn't at the edge of a service area. Cost me $25-30/month for the service. It's been a downhill slide since then. Now I've got a device that retailed for $700 new (it's already been discontinued so you can't buy then new any more) with a $115/month service contract and it sounds worse than a $9.99 wired land line phone.

      I've been hearing for years how US carriers

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @05:15PM (#43442467)

    What do you think will be the next generation of killer features for smartphones?

    Probably biofeedback sensors that can transmit as well as receive. That way, not only can your smart phone monitor your heart rate, it can send a pulse to stop it, too. That would definitely be a killer feature.

    • What do you think will be the next generation of killer features for smartphones?

      Probably biofeedback sensors that can transmit as well as receive. That way, not only can your smart phone monitor your heart rate, it can send a pulse to stop it, too. That would definitely be a killer feature.

      That's what de-fibrillators actually do when your heart rythm goes bad, de-fibs send an impulse that stops the heart, essentially killing you. Then, in most cases, the heart resets itself, and beats normally.

      For my phone, an FM radio and IR programmable remote control, 2 features some models had and you don't see anymore. Why??

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        What do you think will be the next generation of killer features for smartphones?

        Probably biofeedback sensors that can transmit as well as receive. That way, not only can your smart phone monitor your heart rate, it can send a pulse to stop it, too. That would definitely be a killer feature.

        That's what de-fibrillators actually do when your heart rythm goes bad, de-fibs send an impulse that stops the heart, essentially killing you. Then, in most cases, the heart resets itself, and beats normally.

        For my phone, an FM radio and IR programmable remote control, 2 features some models had and you don't see anymore. Why??

        Because if you are listening to FM radio, then they can't monetize it. As for the IR, I miss that, too.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @05:18PM (#43442487)

    Personally I want to move control over the phone from the company...to me. Android is the best option out their right now, but its a long way from being an optimum solution. Increasingly they are becoming devices others control.

  • All the features in the world don't matter when you have typically horrible service. Or at least a feature that allows me to nuke Sprint.

  • by rvw (755107)

    What's next for smartphones is not in the phone, it's outside the phone. I think we will see sensors - yes maybe in the form of a (i)watch - that communicate with the phone, and that gather and send data like heart rate, position, nfc. They will work independently, have their own batteries, have a much longer battery life, no lcd screen, maybe an epaper screen.

  • The "analysts" are, too. On top of that, phones are still a "platform" to deliver "an experience" ment only to please you insofar it lets the carrier "own" you. Thus the walled gardens. Thus the NFC push, with a secure element in your phone that isn't owned by you. It owns you, instead.

    In that context, any and all extra sensors is more ways to spy on you. That is all.

    What I'd like? As a phone, a device that lets me connect with the rest of the world. As a computing device something that lets me run my own c

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @05:57PM (#43442737) Homepage Journal

    Flexible screen.

    Multiple screens that couple into one larger screen.

    Laser keyboard.

    Projector.

    Dockable to make a useful notebook replacement.

    Or a totally flexible phone that survives your back pocket. And doesn't trigger the humidity sensor.

    Voice commands? How about I get a text from my wife, and I say "tell her I'm on my way" and the phone replies accurately. Of a call comes in and I say 'I'll call back later" and the call is answered with an appropriate voice response.

    I'm never going to make these happen, so use these ideas and make a million. You're welcome.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @06:06PM (#43442783)

    I want a generic revolution in smart phones. Android goes part way there, but not far enough.

    I don't want anything to come from the carrier except packets and monthly bill. Like my ISP. Phone branding by the carrier should just go away. Spectrum should not belong to anyone. Carrier should just be licensed to use the National Allocated Spectrum by the FCC.

    Phones should be modular. Want to upgrade the phone battery? Or radio? Add a keyboard? Not a problem. Root access should be expected, not something that has to be obtained by hacking.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday April 13, 2013 @06:18PM (#43442857) Homepage Journal
    On the back [laptopmag.com].
  • ... probably going to be rather hard to implement right now. But maybe it can happen in a decade or so when they figure out the "hardware" for this. I want seamless elasticity. That is, the phone should be able to stretch and shrink (not fold or slide parts) in either or both directions, and hold the size (e.g. NOT snap back like a rubber band). And of course it should notify apps what size the phone is now.

  • Make phones that are the size of the HTC Aria/Liberty/Intruder [wikipedia.org]!!!! Then we'll talk. Everything larger than that size is horrible and unwieldy. There is no technical reason why smartphones are so bulky.
  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @07:09PM (#43443221)

    RF receiver with coverage of at least 200khz thru 5ghz with at least 50 mhz sampling bandwidth and an external mini bnc connector. Transmitting would be nice too within at least the 6 and 13mhz ISM.

    Transducer/sonar for looking thru walls, distance, speed and crap.

    Always on combo LCD/eink display.

    A real ring lazer gyro to replace mems crap.

    A small physical keyboard of some kind or better yet a touch screen with software defined depressible regions. It needs to feel like a real keyboard... no haptic crap.

    Lazer with class selection so we can use it for presentations or goofing off (lazer tag..etc) freespace communications..etc. Oh and a mems mirror lense for lazer light shows.

    Cheap IR transeceiver to control TVs and crap..the old PDAs had these and it was cool.

    IR blackbody temperature sensor.

    Flashlight a real one not some crap camera flash thing.

    Highly sensitive 3D magnetometer able to track fields from any orientation.

    Multimeter/oscope mode with port to attach probes.

    Reliable hardware..chipkill memory, transactional buses, multi-core quorum modes..etc.

    Persistant storage that does not suck power/time or has a limited cycle life (memristers..etc)

    Hyperspectral camera and geiger tube

    Spectrometer

    Unfoldable/sliding display for increased viewing area.

    Waterproof and floats in water.

    Freedom to install anything and full baseband access.

  • Cell phones need better microphones and noise canceling so that people on the other end can hear better. This would have the added benefit of greatly reducing how annoying their users are to those around them as people would no longer feel the need to talk really loudly into their phone. Imagine what a better society we would have with this one small change.

  • Flip phones with Star Trek sounds of course!

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:16PM (#43444031)
    Given that everyone in first world is going fat and getting the diabetes, a smart phone able to measure blood glucose level could have some success.
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:26PM (#43444059)
    I've been waiting for TV tuners, but I suppose this would cut down on bandwidth which would reduce profits...

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