Can they really get any smarter?

By Ethan Ottemiller ’12

Ten years ago when you purchased your own personal cellular phone (probably a Nokia 5190), you knew exactly what you were dealing with. You knew that you could make and receive calls, send text messages, and even play Snake… Holy smokes! But in the recent years, the primitive technology that we were introduced to has dramatically changed. Today, the majority of cellular phones have evolved into what is commonly referred to as “smart” phones. The technology in these smart phones have become so advanced, that people honestly don’t even need to purchase computers, GPS systems, MP3 players, or portable gaming devices – it’s all readily available in the palm of their hand.

The HTC HD2 has a kickstand, just in case your hands are full

Because of the innovation in new mobile devices, tablets, and etcetera, the technology industry believes we are entering a new generation which is currently being referred to as the post-PC era. Now, this does not necessarily mean that the personal computer is about to disappear, but according to estimates from Gartner Research, combined shipments of web-connected smartphones and tablet computers are likely to exceed those of desktop and laptop computers for the first time this year. Even more amazing, it is projected that there will be nearly 10 billion mobile devices in circulation by 2020.

The popular smart phones available today come from several different companies. We were introduced to the Blackberry, the Android, the new Windows phone, and (of course) the iPhone. Despite the manufacturing differences, they all have the ability to surf the web, set up multiple email accounts, hold excessive amounts of music, and take pictures. This however, only scratches the surface of what the latest and future smart phones provide.

Apple, just last moth, released their latest product as sort of an extension from the iPhone 4 that was released in 2010. The new iPhone 4S has taken the smart phone game to an elite level, considerably more groundbreaking than any other competitor. One of the main features of the new iPhone 4S is called Siri. Siri is an intelligent personal assistant that helps you get tasks done just by asking or making a command. It allows users to send voice messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. The real upside about Siri is that it is nowhere close to traditional voice recognition software that requires users to remember specific keywords and commands. It has the ability to understand natural speech, and it will even ask questions if it requires more information to complete a task.

So now that smart phone users have the ability to ask their personal assistant to make calls, check the weather, set reminders, find contacts, and even surf the web with basically no effort whatsoever, what more can we expect from future technology? Lane Seals, a business student at the University of Oregon and founder of My Device Hub (a company that buys, sells, and repairs popular smart phones) feels that computer technology, along with mobile technology will always continue to progress.

“Smart phone technology is continually progressing to make the size of devices smaller and smaller while still increasing power to a new level. I feel that the implementation of Siri has brought us to a whole new range of possibilities. As of right now, you still have to command your phone to perform tasks but eventually artificial intelligence will be able to identify tendencies and execute tasks without being ordered to. Phones themselves will become personal assistants.”

The iPhone 5 is set to be released in June of 2012 and according to several sources it is a complete redesign of the iPhone 4S.  Supposedly, the new iPhone will be equipped with two A5 chip processors and higher more powerful graphic chips that can deliver higher video resolutions in addition to adding support for 4G speeds. It is also intended to have a thinner and sleeker design with facial recognition security software and will perform Face Time on 3G and 4G networks. The most significant changes however will be a shatter resistant frame, extended battery life, and full 1080p HD recording as well as a 3D display.

The new iPhone 4S is equipped with several new features including Siri the personal assistant

These are only a few of the new additions, and according to a source at Apple there are several rumors going around about other possible features. “From what I have heard, the new iPhone will function without a sim-card so it will able to work with GSM and CDMA technology, making it basically a world phone. And I’m pretty skeptical of this but the screen may possibly have the ability to project holographic images.”

Ten years ago, looking at a Nokia 5190, we would have never expected that phones would have evolved in to what they are today. So, in essence, looking towards the future, it again is impossible to make any conclusions as to what the capabilities of smart phones will be. They probably wont be labeled as smart phones anymore.

Categories: Other

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