You ain’t seen nothing yet

The Swiss Army Knife of technology, the smartphone, is just picking up steam.

The cell phone celebrated its 40th birthday last year and its evolution since the birth of modern computing in the 1970s is nothing short of extraordinary. In the 80s, the brick-sized DynaTAC 8000x was the first commercially available cell phone – it had a battery capacity of 30 minutes of talk time – and talk was all you could do on it. The cell phone sure has come a long way.

Fast forward to 2014 and now, the smartphone does it all, and then some – streamlining all your tech into one device that fits easily in your jeans pocket. I like to call it the Swiss Army Knife of technology.

The years ahead will no doubt deliver even more innovation that make the smartphone experience more powerful and immersive. Innovations in cloud computing, wearable technology, connected accessories and near field communications will activate the next era of smartphone technology, but who knows what the future holds.

According to the GSMA, it is estimated there will be some 24 billion connected devices by 2020. Like Ibrahim mentioned in his Throwback to the Future blog post last week, the Internet of Things phenomenon encompasses so much more than just connectivity to a smartphone or the Internet itself – how we connect to the world around us using our smartphones will undoubtedly continue to evolve and transform how we live our lives.

Here’s a snap shot of some of the trends picking up steam and what we can expect in the years to come…

  • Forgot your wallet? No problem. Your fancy, designer wallet will become obsolete as mobile wallets become commonplace in payment technology. You’ll not only be able to use your mobile wallet to pay for lunch, but also make mortgage payments, increase your line of credit, collect and redeem loyalty points and rewards, make deposits and transfers – you name it – all using your smartphone.
  • Here’s a new word you’ll be hearing a lot more: Appcessories. App-enabled wearable accessories will become the new way we use our smartphones to collect information about our health and even our performance at our rec hockey games. Companies like Nike, Samsung and Apple are already playing in this space offering wearable devices with sensors and wireless communication technology. Appcessories such as bands designed to be worn on the wrist, arm or leg are already emerging, but they don’t stop there – objects like soccer balls, hockey sticks, bathroom scales, blood pressure monitors and even instruments like a piano will all be able to interact with an application on a smartphone or tablet sooner than you think.
  • Another area where appcessories will flourish is in the connected home. The days of taking time off work for the Maytag repair man to fix the fridge will soon be over with applications that allow you to provide secure unlock codes to authorized people and watch them in your home via video. In the age of the connected home, mobile devices will become the brains of the entire connected home experience. Instead of remote controls with menus to memorize and dials and switches to operate, the smartphone or tablet becomes one master remote to rule them all.
  • Combined with the cloud, smartphones will also become the primary window to the Internet and all the world’s data. It is unlikely that we will end up using powerful, expandable computer systems with large amounts of localized storage in the future. Many, if not all of the things we think about as “localized” computing resources will be stored in the cloud. Instead, the smartphone will be the hub.

And that’s the just the tip of the iceberg. Looking forward, we’ll see even more impressive mobile devices, faster, more powerful networks and affordable cloud computing and storage solutions that create a recipe for more change and disruption in the mobile space, so hold on to your hats!

What do you think the next 20 years hold for the smartphone?