12 Oct Is there anything smartphones cannot do?
Alexander Graham Bell was responsible for the first commercial telephone service set up in the late 1800s. It had the sole function of transmitting live voice communications from one location to another, albeit over a short distance. It was not until 1927 that the first ever transatlantic phone call took place from the US to the UK. Over the next century, innovations in telecommunications would transform telephones to landlines to mobiles. Wired devices became wireless and mobile phones evolved into the smartphones we use today.
The modern smartphone is a combination of the functions of various other devices: cameras, watches, maps, calculators, music players, computers, and more. The need for these other devices is becoming redundant as smartphones prove they can carry out multiple functions well. It is hard to imagine a task that is, or could be, impossible to do on a smartphone.
Innovations outside of mobile are making smartphones smarter still. Consider the evolution of smart homes: we can now control and power home appliances from our phones, even from far away. There are motion-activated security cameras, smart thermostats, and smart lighting. We can even programme our phones to make our morning coffees or feed our pets when we are away from home!
A huge benefit of a connected society is the ability to offer enhanced healthcare delivery from anywhere in the world. One of the biggest universal challenges is supporting healthcare systems while giving patients access to high-quality care.
Fortunately, innovations in software are allowing people to monitor their health from their smartphones. Patients with health conditions can input data to their phones and share this with healthcare professionals, who can then flag whether medical attention is required. For example, a new app is being developed to record people’s heart beats which, in the future, could be used to diagnose cardiac problems in real-time. This may ensure that patients can access care when they truly need it and save healthcare systems time and resources.
Is mobile innovation limitless?
Our smartphones have made our lives more efficient and convenient, but what comes next? According to Meta, virtual reality is the next big thing. Meta is building its own virtual universe (the Metaverse) – a virtual world where social media users can hang out on spaceships or in the rainforests. Meta aims to combine smartphones with other gadgets, like AR/VR goggles, to create these entirely new digital worlds.
However – beyond the realms of virtual reality – could we soon be reaching the frontier of what is possible with mobile technology? Or will existing devices continue to become embedded into our smartphones, until they evolve into complete ubiquitous devices capable of anything. In which case, will they even be phones at all?