13 Future mobile technologies that will change your life

These disruptive technologies will affect how you work, play and communicate when you're mobile.

Disruption 7: Nearly flawless speech recognition

Another mobile input application on the horizon is better speech recognition, which will be enabled by more powerful mobile chips.

"Speech recognition got bogged down because it was only 98% or 99% accurate," Burrus said. "Even at that accuracy, many of us found it was faster to type. A lot of the problem had to do with processing power -- speech recognition needs a lot of horsepower."

More powerful mobile processors will solve that problem, Burrus predicted. And speech playback will become more natural-sounding, he added. In other words, everything you do with your keyboard at your desk, you'll be able to do with speech while you're mobile.

Why it's important: If you have a teensy mobile device that is, say, tucked in your ear, better speech recognition and playback means you don't need a keyboard or display. You'll be able to perform complex functions such as Web searches or buying things using your voice.

What could hold it back: Users could be reticent about letting others in public places hear their business. They may prefer to combine better speech recognition with other methods of input.

Disruption 8: Foldable displays and e-paper

Vendors such as Philips and Fujitsu Computer Systems have been publicly showing foldable and e-paper displays for mobile devices. Both will enable tiny devices to display data clearly on easily stowed screens.

E-paper uses a mylar-like screen, said Paul Moore, senior director of mobile product marketing at Fujitsu.

"You can maintain the image with no power at all," he said. "So I take a small tube [of e-paper] out of my pocket, unfold it and there's the New York Times. I can use the same e-paper for tomorrow's paper."

E-paper will have a dramatic effect on laptops, Moore predicted. That's because, when it is improved enough that it can support constantly changing images and not just static ones, it can replace laptop LCDs. That will dramatically cut both laptop weight and power consumption, Moore said.

In addition, Japan's NTT DoCoMo is experimenting with e-paper to replace keys and icons on phones. With e-paper, those keys and icons can change as you change applications from, say, being in voice mode to being in media playback mode.

Why it's important: Foldable screens and e-paper mean we can easily have big displays with our miniscule mobile devices.

What could hold it back: The technology still must be perfected. Also unknown is how much such displays will cost.

Disruption 9: Centralized storage

Fast, ubiquitous wireless access will enable centralized storage on remote servers, which will have a series of important ripple effects, according to Burrus.

"You don't need a lot of bulk [on a device] if you offload storage and other functions to a [centralized] server," Burrus said.

Kerton agrees. "How much sense does it make to store a specific jazz album on your device and everybody else is storing it on their device, too?" Kerton asked. "We're doing massive edge storage and that doesn't make sense."

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David Haskin

Computerworld
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