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Personal technology; the present, past and future

It’s slightly misleading to call the unit that most people carry around in their pockets these days a “mobile phone”. In fact, to list all the things it can do would probably take the rest of this article. How did we get to this point? Where’s personal technology going next?

Functions

Even a basic, fairly cheap smartphone, like many of those being produced in China today, will allow you to communicate with (potentially) an unlimited number of people simultaneously, via social networking apps like Facebook and Twitter. You can play games like Clash Of Clans with multiple other users. You can even gamble now on smartphones using apps for mobile devices. You can read a constantly updated version of your favourite newspaper – often for free - or watch a movie on a large, clear screen if your handset is up to the job (and you have a good wi-fi connection). Of course you may well be carrying your entire music collection around as well; and we haven’t even mentioned cameras yet.

Miniaturization

The story of the smartphone revolution is really the story of miniaturization. Computing technology has always tended to get smaller (or, in reality, stay the same size, getting more powerful.) If you still have one of Apple’s earlier iPods , spend a moment weighing it in your hand. The late 2001 model only held around 1000 songs, and today it feels like half a brick. But if you’d told someone a couple of years earlier that they’d be able to carry that much music around with them, they’d have laughed at you. Add the phone you were carrying at the time and a digital camera, and it adds up to quite a weight.

Bigger Again

Samsung’s Galaxy Note series were the first commercially successful “phablet” devices.

In some cases we’ve reached the point where things are getting bigger again. The widespread availability of fast wi-fi connections allows us to watch HD video on the move, so there’s a point where screens become too small. The popularity of the “phablet”, a compromise between a phone and a tablet, is down to the portability of devices like the new Samsung and LG smartphones as the need for easy control of touchscreen functions increases.

The Future

It’s difficult to predict where personal technology is going, but perhaps Google Glass represents a new stage altogether. Due for full release in 2014, its main problem may be etiquette based. People know already that they can be filmed by someone wearing the device; the issue is that they may not know whether they’re being filmed or not. Consequently, some establishments (hospitals and certain restaurants, for example) have preemptively banned it. It makes you wonder how we’re going to deal with brain implants when they inevitably arrive!

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mark Nicholls .

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