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Old 03-14-2019, 06:20 PM
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Have smartphones become a mature technology?


I've been reading a bunch of tech people who think we've reached "peak smartphone" and that we've gone from them being like computers in the 90s- where they were obsolete every couple of years and needed frequent replacement- to something like now, where they are "good enough" for most people to last for years. Maybe not to that extent for phones, but moving in that direction. Also, we've seen a stall in technical advancement which causes flagship phones to have features added as gimmicks to differentiate themselves from the crowd, which drives up the price and mid-range phones are acceptable for the vast majority of use cases. In addition, sales are slowing especially in developed countries.

Does this all lead to the conclusion that smartphones are or are rapidly becoming a mature technology?
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:11 PM
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We are near the end of improvements in processor speed across the board. But there is still lots to be done on the flexible device front.
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:45 PM
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This years top of the line phone processor is 1.2 times faster (or so) than last years. That is a bigger jump than is normally seen in laptop/desktop/server processors. Radios are also getting faster, they're putting in more RAM, increasing the default storage space, and putting on better cameras. Of course, any feature you don't need is just a gimmick. I'd say that year over year top phones are often noticeably better than the year before. The features of the top phones also slide down into the mid-tier phones, so a mid-tier today is probably better than a few year's ago flagship.

Having said all of that, I don't think there is any need to upgrade a phone yearly, and even every two years is into enthusiast territory. Sometime between 2 and 4 years the phone will lose software updates, which can lead to compatibility and security problems.

I think there are two major things happening that are decreasing smart phone sales. First is that most everybody who wants a smart phone already has one, and the upgrade cycle definitely has slowed. My two year Samsung S8 (the flagship of its day) is fine, and I have no particular desire to upgrade it. When my old Samsung S3 (the flagship of its day) was two years old, it was desperately behind the current flagships. In summary, fewer people shopping for phones.

The second reason is just economics 101. The price of phones went up, therefore demand went down. This is really simple. The iPhone 5 in 2012 was $650. The iPhone 6S in 2015 was $650. The iPhone Xr today is $750, and that's the cheap one.
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:16 PM
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I think the advances we're going to see are more in the software rather than the hardware, as they issue smarter assistants for the phone, which will learn the owners routine and be more proactive.
The speed issue for smartphone processors is less the technology than how to squeeze speed out of low power designs. I worked on some very fast processors, but they would burn a hole right through your pockets (and maybe you) if used in a phone. There is a long way to go to figure out how to turn off the silicon not being used in order to conserve power.
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:34 PM
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I think the Next Big Thing will be smartphones that support 5G networks. Supposedly, you'll be able to download an entire movie in seconds.
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:45 PM
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I think there's still a lot of improvements to come. The really big thing is 5G. But I also expect longer battery life, which will allow smaller high-end phones. That and flexible screens will probably kill the phablet market -- I think most people would prefer a small phone with a big screen they can pull out to watch a video than a thing that's always big and doesn't fit comfortably in a pocket.
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:47 PM
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No.

I predict the next big technology will be a small computer you carry as a piece of jewelry, that has multiple wireless interfaces (unlike smartphones which only have 2, the touchscreen and verbal interactions).

Holographic interface you can physically interact with
Verbal interactions
Rolled up transparent touchscreen
Retinal display from a pair of glasses
VR gloves for a large holographic display
etc


You'll buy a ring, watch, something you clip on your belt and then you have all these options to interact with your computer from the list above.

I think that'll replace smartphones in about ~10 years.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 03-14-2019 at 08:48 PM.
  #8  
Old 03-14-2019, 10:34 PM
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No.

I predict the next big technology will be a small computer you carry as a piece of jewelry, that has multiple wireless interfaces (unlike smartphones which only have 2, the touchscreen and verbal interactions).

Holographic interface you can physically interact with
Verbal interactions
Rolled up transparent touchscreen
Retinal display from a pair of glasses
VR gloves for a large holographic display
etc


You'll buy a ring, watch, something you clip on your belt and then you have all these options to interact with your computer from the list above.

I think that'll replace smartphones in about ~10 years.

We are talking about real-world physics, not pie-in-the-sky fantasy.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
No.

I predict the next big technology will be a small computer you carry as a piece of jewelry, that has multiple wireless interfaces (unlike smartphones which only have 2, the touchscreen and verbal interactions).

Holographic interface you can physically interact with
Verbal interactions
Rolled up transparent touchscreen
Retinal display from a pair of glasses
VR gloves for a large holographic display
etc


You'll buy a ring, watch, something you clip on your belt and then you have all these options to interact with your computer from the list above.

I think that'll replace smartphones in about ~10 years.
Gotta have a light saber too.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:19 PM
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Gotta have a light saber too.

I see your Schwartz is as big as mine!
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:40 AM
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We are talking about real-world physics, not pie-in-the-sky fantasy.
Everything he mentioned already exists as working prototypes.
  #12  
Old 03-15-2019, 05:42 AM
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I can think of another couple of developments that could be significant, both relate to satellites

The next generation of phones will have GPS that can resolve down to a metre or two. This is due to several new constellations of GPS satellites and the development of chipsets cheap enough for mobile phones.

We also have the second attempt at creating huge constellations of low earth orbit satellites to provide broadband in all those unfortunate parts of the world that do not have 3G/4G/5G services.

I don't suppose city folk will notice this much until they go hiking, but it will make a world of difference to several billion people who live in parts of the world that do not enjoy easy Internet access.

This will require smartphones that are much, much cheaper and apps aimed at the kind of services normally taken for granted in the developed world, but on a much bigger scale. Moving money around, getting help in emergencies, market information, news, medical advice, that sort of thing. A cheap global smartphone will do that.

For the urban sophisticates who have the latest tech, all this will be unimpressive. For them there will be a faster way of livestreaming themselves pulling a funny face to their favourite video channel, summon takeaway food or taxis with better efficiency or consume a box set of packaged entertainment.

Maybe all the useful apps already been devised for smartphone users in developed economies?

If that is the case, the market may be covered and new smartphones only provide incremental advantages at the premium end of the market. But at the other end of the market, I am sure there are fortunes to be made.

Elon Musk and several others have ambitious plans in that direction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starli..._constellation)
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:29 AM
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Everything he mentioned already exists as working prototypes.

If you believe that in ten years we will be using ring-sized hologram projecting computers, then I would like to discuss a business deal with you concerning a bridge.
  #14  
Old 03-15-2019, 06:56 AM
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I suspect the upgrade cycle may continue with 'radio' options that are for pay to connect with, and for that one would need the phone with the proper receiver, which means a upgrade. These things may be enhanced positioning with lower power consumption, satellite internet receiver - so coverage everywhere one can view the sky, and we already see Verizon Wireless wanting to tack on a fee for 5G connections. There are perhaps other radio signals which would be desirable to receive, private for pay networks that give enhanced abilities.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:29 AM
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5G is really the only technology that will be a significant change anytime soon. But you have to ask yourself - how much am I missing extra bandwidth right now? Use cases like streaming movies are unlikely to be major market drivers - not enough to justify the billions being spent on infrastructure. Indeed we see 5G not so much being touted as a mobile solution, but as a cheap high bandwidth reticulation for fixed internet access in competition with cables and fibres in the ground.

I like to say that right now, with our current mobile phones we are living science fiction. If you go back through the old Sci-fi ideas about future technology there is plenty they predict that we have not got anywhere with (where is my jetpack or flying car?) but you are hard pressed to find any sci-fi that envisaged anything as advanced in capability as a modern phone.

But, as noted above, the additional features that make a difference are getting harder to find. Cameras are pretty insane in capability, enough to wipe out an entire market segment of ordinary cameras. Storage capacity is now in the difficult to fill range. Processor power is very capable, and the wide range of different architectures inside a phone, directed at different needs makes a personal computer look remarkably naive. The biggest driver in PCs is games. Most home computing needs are otherwise covered with only very modest machines.

I just retired my old iPhone 5. Bought an XS with 256GB. It is really very very nice. Much nicer than I thought. But its capability over the 5 is not that great a leap. Everything is smoother, faster, the camera is better, and I finally got into the world of NFC communications (so I can pay with my phone) and biometric ID is a nice to have. But seriously, if I was forced to keep the 5 for another year, it would not have bothered me all that much.

There is one use case that I feel has been held back - and this is one Apple could do if they had the will. Make the phone interface to a full screen, keyboard and mouse, with some sort of small dock, or even a wireless interface. Make it replace the PC. You keep most of your life in the cloud, the phone caches what you need, and it provides the portable context for all your work. Sit down, phone links to screen/keyboard/mouse and your currently active spreadsheet/document/photos/etc applications appear. Do some work, get up, disconnect phone, and walk off. Re-establish at any other screen system at any time. Apple already have the idea of active transfer of work between phone and desktops, but there is point where your phone has enough power that the desktop is simply not needed. We have already passed that point.

There are other applications of phones, but noting that needs new higher power hardware. A lot of applications need software and infrastructure to enable them. There are many barriers to uptake of ideas that are rooted in commercial and legal interests. Getting wide enough cooperation between stakeholders to get an idea off the ground, and not simply die because stakeholders want a bigger slice of the pie than there is pie is a common problem.

The idea that augmented reality, holograms, or haptic gloves will be drivers is naive. There are no extant holographic projection systems, even in labs. Things like VR glasses, haptics and like have been around for decades. They have not got much more useful over that time, although they have become cheaper. The idea hat people will wish to become an augmented cyborg so that they can be bombarded with ever more advertising is something only a marketdroid would believe. Ther will need to be some major breakthrough in interface technology to enable a paradigm shift, and that breakthrough will probably not so much advance the mobile phone to the next level as render it obsolete.

Last edited by Francis Vaughan; 03-15-2019 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:58 AM
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A few things are near or at the maximum. E.g., screen resolution. But there are several things that have a lot of improvement. My list of key things:

Battery life.
Connection speed.
Storage. (This one is surprising. You should have at least 500GB minimum on a lot of these phones given their prices. And the amount should be increasing greatly every generation.)

Processor speed has some room for improvement but not as much as the above.

I've seen some stuff lately about Samsung hoping to come out with a phone whose front is edge-to-edge all screen. Hidden camera, fingerprint reader, etc. included. This will become a "standard". Making the infamous "notch" a quaint, period artifact.

The real "wow" stuff will be in the area of human-device interaction. E.g., being able to "type" in midair near your phone. Plus things we can't even dream of now.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:59 AM
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There are no extant holographic projection systems, even in labs.
Well, there is, but I doubt that using lasers to turn pockets of air into plasma is ever going to meet consumer electronics safety standards (or be low-powered enough to be portable.)


On the software front, as I mentioned in another thread:

Quote:
So--all of the voice recognition done "by" phones and other portable doodads today are actually recorded audio clips transmitted off to server farms somewhere to do the actual recognition. But Google has managed to shrink it's English-language voice recognition code from 2 GB to 80 MB, allowing it to soon be able to run on-device.
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Old 03-15-2019, 08:13 AM
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E.g., being able to "type" in midair near your phone.

Who would want to do that? Just because something is technically possible doesn't mean that it isn't an ergonomic nightmare. (See: arms, gorilla.)
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:30 AM
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If you believe that in ten years we will be using ring-sized hologram projecting computers, then I would like to discuss a business deal with you concerning a bridge.
He never freakin said there would be ring-sized hologram projectors in 10 years. He mentioned that there would be a holographic interface that the user could interact with. He also mentioned that consumers might use "something you clip on your belt". Such technology already exists, but you think that it somehow violates "real-world physics".

Instead of discussing a business deal with me about a bridge, perhaps find someone to educate you on physics, consumer technology, and reading comprehension.

And no, I don't think such things will be mainstream in 10 years. But that isn't because it violates "real-world physics". It's just not going to be popular or practical. But it will be physically possible.

Last edited by Bear_Nenno; 03-15-2019 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:52 AM
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If you believe that in ten years we will be using ring-sized hologram projecting computers, then I would like to discuss a business deal with you concerning a bridge.
They didn’t say there would be ring-sized holographic projectors, they said the computer itself would be ring-sized and would wirelessly communicate with the desired interface device, like touchscreens or holographic projectors. Nothing inherently implausible about that.

Last edited by Cleophus; 03-15-2019 at 10:52 AM.
  #21  
Old 03-15-2019, 10:59 AM
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There is no such thing as a holographic projector. It just isn't possible to project a 3D image that floats in thin air like Princess Leia's message.

There are things that are claimed to be holographic displays, but they are actually just 3D display panels or boxes. The 3d image appears inside a box or in front of a display panel. The 3d image cannot be bigger than the display panel itself.

Augmented Reality is the closest thing to holographic projectors. Basically they are virtual reality goggles that are see-through, so the VR image is superimposed on reality. Maybe in 10 years those might become compact enough to pass for sunglasses.

But even then, it won't be a smartphone. It will be a different type of product. The smartphone is a mature technology. It won't evolve into something else, it will either coexist or die out. Just like laptop computers didn't evolve into smartphones or tablets.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:12 AM
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There is no such thing as a holographic projector. It just isn't possible to project a 3D image that floats in thin air like Princess Leia's message.

There are things that are claimed to be holographic displays, but they are actually just 3D display panels or boxes.
FFS, people. Everyone knew what he meant. For a board that claims to have the smartest people in the world, we sure know how to nitpick every little thing. When someone is talking about holographic displays that you can interact with, they're not talking about Star Wars or Holodecks. They're talking about something that appears 3D to the user. That could be accomplished in dozens of ways, including wearing special glasses, which... surprise, surprise, he also mentioned. Yes, these things are "claimed to be holographic displays". That's how people refer to them. You obviously knew that. So why do we pretend like he was talking about mobile emitters and holodecks? Just so you can come in and say, "Aaaaackchyually. . ."

This place really blows my mind sometimes.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:23 AM
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I'll say it again : there is no such thing as a holographic projector. There isn't even anything that reasonably claims to be a holographic projector.

3D displays are completely different, because they can only display 3D images that are no larger than the display itself. So a pocket sized device can only create a pocket sized 3D image. Unless it's the kind of device that you hold against your face and look into.

I think this distinction is worth stressing, because countless sci-fi movies have led us to expect holographic projectors.

Last edited by scr4; 03-15-2019 at 11:25 AM.
  #24  
Old 03-15-2019, 12:31 PM
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I just retired my old iPhone 5. Bought an XS with 256GB. It is really very very nice. Much nicer than I thought. But its capability over the 5 is not that great a leap. Everything is smoother, faster, the camera is better, and I finally got into the world of NFC communications (so I can pay with my phone) and biometric ID is a nice to have. But seriously, if I was forced to keep the 5 for another year, it would not have bothered me all that much.
The biggest thing I noticed when resetting a friend's iPhone 6 to sell it was just how slow it was compared to my Samsung S8. Those phones differ by 3 years, but web pages and such were much slower on the iPhone 6. There is definitely a "fast enough", and for something like that it is for web pages to draw as fast as they are downloaded. The 6 just wasn't there yet, and the S8 is mostly there.

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There is one use case that I feel has been held back - and this is one Apple could do if they had the will. Make the phone interface to a full screen, keyboard and mouse, with some sort of small dock, or even a wireless interface. Make it replace the PC. You keep most of your life in the cloud, the phone caches what you need, and it provides the portable context for all your work. Sit down, phone links to screen/keyboard/mouse and your currently active spreadsheet/document/photos/etc applications appear. Do some work, get up, disconnect phone, and walk off. Re-establish at any other screen system at any time. Apple already have the idea of active transfer of work between phone and desktops, but there is point where your phone has enough power that the desktop is simply not needed. We have already passed that point.
Samsung has this in their Dex interface. For several years it required a special Samsung dock, even though it was just a USB-C to HDMI dock with a whitelist of acceptable ones on the phone. Starting with Android 9 (or at least in the beta for the S8) it allows any compatible hardware. I used a cheap USB-C to HDMI/USB/USB-C adapter that got left behind in one of our conference rooms. I plugged my phone in, and with the proper cables connected I had a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and power for the phone all connected. It was a bit gimmicky, which by my definition above just means I don't have a good use case for it.

For me anyway, it means once I have a desk with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, adding a low power PC is not very expensive. I mean, still several hundred dollars, but really about half the cost of a new Samsung S10. If I could get work to buy me a new phone, because it's really my new PC, that would be completely different...

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There are other applications of phones, but noting that needs new higher power hardware.
This is just a lack of imagination. I suffer from it, too, as I can't think of new applications for phones that will need higher power, either, other than just bigger games. Invariably, as phones get more powerful, applications will appear to fill the space.
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Old 03-15-2019, 01:12 PM
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They didnít say there would be ring-sized holographic projectors, they said the computer itself would be ring-sized and would wirelessly communicate with the desired interface device, like touchscreens or holographic projectors. Nothing inherently implausible about that.

Except for--you know--transistors being almost as small as they can be already, and even if we could make them that small, the device would have a battery life of 15 seconds, and even during those 15 seconds it couldn't act as a phone because it wouldn't be big enough to contain the antennas. But other than issues like that, it is perfectly plausible.
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Old 03-15-2019, 01:54 PM
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I think the Next Big Thing will be smartphones that support 5G networks. Supposedly, you'll be able to download an entire movie in seconds.
And thus blow through your entirely monthly data plan in the same few seconds? Or is 5G going to spell the end of data caps?
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:04 PM
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I'll say it again : there is no such thing as a holographic projector. There isn't even anything that reasonably claims to be a holographic projector.
...I think this distinction is worth stressing, because countless sci-fi movies have led us to expect holographic projectors.
Fair enough. But I don't think anyone here was actually expecting holographic projectors. The only people here talking about holographic projectors are you and Darren Garrison. There's nobody else using the term. Wesley Clark mentioned a "holographic interface that you can interact with". That could be anything from VR to augmented reality, and could be accomplished with flexible transparent screens, 3D screens, special glasses, and a myriad other ways using current technology. Wesley Clark made a list of things and a list of devices, but never once used the term holographic projector and he never suggested that all of those things he listed would be crammed into a ring. Some features might be in a ring, some in a watch, some in glasses, some in gloves.... he mentioned a lot of different things. For some reason, Darren Garrison shoots it down as "pie in the sky fantasy" that violates the laws of physics. And for even less understandable reasons, you come in to teach us all about holographic projectors. Nobody with an average set of social skills and comprehension was confused by Wesley Clark's statement. Nobody would think that he is predicting holographic projectors a la Star Wars, or holodecks like Star Trek. He's talking about what is currently referred to as holographic, even if it doesn't 100% meet the technical definition of holography. We know what he meant.

Last edited by Bear_Nenno; 03-15-2019 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:24 PM
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He's talking about what is currently referred to as holographic, even if it doesn't 100% meet the technical definition of holography. We know what he meant.
I have no idea what he meant. There is no one thing that is referred to as a holographic interface or holographic display. A hologram is a real thing (recorded interference pattern) but I don't know of any active display based on that technology. There are some prototype things that call themselves holographic displays but they are usually boxes that contain the image, and not something that is applicable to portable devices. They can't be interactive because you can't stick your hand into the box. I've never heard of VR or AR referred to as holographic.
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:31 PM
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I have no idea what he meant.

He meant exactly what we thought he meant, and has said it before. Projected, 3D holograms. But of course just because something can be mocked up in special effects in a science fiction movie doesn't mean that it has anything to do with physical reality.
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:53 PM
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Basically, your phone will become what your computer can be now...

Your computer can be your entertainment unit, your music storage, stream to your TV, accept voice input and respond for an increasing number of scenarios, and heck, my phone already is my car key and my credit card. Streaming iPad or phone to TV is limited only by concerns about copyright and usury-level data caps, not technology. Consider that devices like Apple Watch or Bluetooth headphones are already "peripherals" for a phone. You can buy credit card scanners, your phone will talk directly to some printers, etc.

But - other than 5G, certainly there's nothing that can't be done with today's phones and the right software.
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:55 PM
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I think the big thing that has yet to be mentioned is that high-end smartphones are now expendable. Once the battery fails it cannot be replaced so the phone has to be chucked.
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:01 PM
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I think the big thing that has yet to be mentioned is that high-end smartphones are now expendable. Once the battery fails it cannot be replaced so the phone has to be chucked.
The battery may not be user-replaceable, but it just takes a trip to a repair shop to get the battery replaced. I just got it done to my 2-yr old Google Pixel Xl. (Which is another sign that smartphone is a mature technology - for the first time I decided I'd rather replace the battery than upgrade to the new model.)
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:08 PM
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The battery may not be user-replaceable, but it just takes a trip to a repair shop to get the battery replaced. I just got it done to my 2-yr old Google Pixel Xl. (Which is another sign that smartphone is a mature technology - for the first time I decided I'd rather replace the battery than upgrade to the new model.)
The Android P update breathed new life into my similarly-aged Pixel's battery. The thing sips power now. Like you, for the first time, I see no pressing need to upgrade the hardware.
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:10 PM
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Well, there is, but I doubt that using lasers to turn pockets of air into plasma is ever going to meet consumer electronics safety standards (or be low-powered enough to be portable.)
This reminds me of something I recently read. Someone has come up with a way to use lasers to produce sound that only a single person can hear. It has to do with heating up water molecules in the air in the vicinity of the person's ear. OK, this is still very early stage of the tech (so far the person just hears a buzzing) and it may not work out, but potentially it could replace ear buds.

Last edited by dtilque; 03-15-2019 at 05:11 PM.
  #35  
Old 03-15-2019, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
He meant exactly what we thought he meant, and has said it before. Projected, 3D holograms. But of course just because something can be mocked up in special effects in a science fiction movie doesn't mean that it has anything to do with physical reality.
you people take stuff too seriously. You don't know what I meant.

My point was that in the future our way of interacting with our pocket computer and the computer itself could be separate. Right now the screen and voice commands are built into the phone. In the future the computer could be something in your pocket, or a watch, or something you clip on your belt. But there could be a half dozen or more aftermarket ways to interact with it.

Foldable touchscreens, micro projectors, VR gloves, projections onto the retina, much more advanced verbal interactivity, etc. People will have more than the 2 ways to interact with their phones that they have now (verbal and touchscreen), and both those abilities are built into the phone.

As far as interactive holograms, I meant either via VR gloves (which seems like a technology that isn't far off) or possibly something akin to what is discussed here. However I have no idea if they will ever be capable of being miniaturized or if other methods are out there.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-20454-6

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/hapt...nese-holograms
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 03-15-2019 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:31 PM
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Except for--you know--transistors being almost as small as they can be already, and even if we could make them that small, the device would have a battery life of 15 seconds, and even during those 15 seconds it couldn't act as a phone because it wouldn't be big enough to contain the antennas. But other than issues like that, it is perfectly plausible.
The essential working components of a smartphone are dominated by the screen. It's the biggest power draw on the system and the single largest component.

Look at this picture of a Raspberry Pi Zero. The CPU, GPU, and RAM are all in the large black square in the middle. The WiFi and Bluetooth antenna is the little triangle to the left of it. The ports, the SD card slot, the connectors, etc. are all nonessential to the core functions and can be excluded. That leaves you with components that are, yes, ring-sized. This is all based on 40 nm process node and CPU technology several generations behind. 7 nm is under development.

Again, we're talking about distributing the functions of a smartphone into a number of modular and compact devices. No one is talking about turning a shrink ray on an entire smartphone, let alone desktop, as-is.
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:54 PM
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As far as interactive holograms, I meant either via VR gloves (which seems like a technology that isn't far off) or possibly something akin to what is discussed here.
I'm still not sure what you mean. You are correct that VR gloves aren't far off; they existed twenty or more years ago. But they're an input device. No idea how you're getting to "interactive holograms" from them.
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:17 PM
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The idea of a distributed set of components has been around for quite a while - the wearable technology stuff. It is probably the most likely thing to eventually replace the modern smartphone. But there are significant limitations that may still make it less preferable to a simple device.

We already have a two device system - a smart watch tethered to a phone. Uptake has not been a dramatic success. There are a host of reasons, limited display size, fiddly interface, lack of compelling use cases. The idea that the watch could be replace with say a flexible display incorporated into clothing runs into a host of problems. But there are enthusiasts that persevere. Even if you go a phone sized or bigger display wrapped around you forearm, its utility will be much less than a handheld phone. You can only use the other hand to drive it, and the display can only be used in long sleeved clothing.

Fundamentally, the display and UI are the big problem there is no adequate advance to with any current technology. Voice commands are slower than finger on a touch display for many applications, and people don't seem to like to spend their life talking to their devices. Voice commands for simple tasks are great. But it gets wearing fast. We already have a big part of that with say a watch linked to a phone.

Google killed their AR glasses. People don't want to be cyborgs.

Displays are shrinking again. The number of owners of iPhone Max sized phone I have spoken to that have either gone back to a standard size, or want to, amazed me. The book like foldable display adds a tablet function to the phone. Most people will not want to have to open the book to use phone in everyday use - they will still want it to fit one hand comfortably. Hence the provision of an outside display. Flexible displays may still be the next thing that changes the phone paradigm. It is early days for the technology, and the use cases and design advances remain to be seen.
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Cleophus View Post
The essential working components of a smartphone are dominated by the screen. It's the biggest power draw on the system and the single largest component.

Look at this picture of a Raspberry Pi Zero. ... That leaves you with components that are, yes, ring-sized. This is all based on 40 nm process node and CPU technology several generations behind. 7 nm is under development.
Actually the dominant component is by far the battery. Don't look inside a Raspberry - it is stone age - look inside a modern phone. The Apple A12 processor is already 7 nm.The whole inside is battery, with the phone electronics forced into a tiny fraction of the case. Remove the display and the phone would get 1mm thinner and that is it. There are no extant solutions - even lab based - to battery. Whilst there are clearly some advances possible in power draw the current designs are both very smart and running against the ragged edge of feature size versus leakage. Smaller design rules are not seeing reductions in power draw anymore.
Wearable tech is trying to do things like harvest power from body movement - but the solutions are currently bigger than a phone battery. Or you have to make your clothing from a particular special fabric. Which is not going to catch on for everyday wear in the foreseeable future.
We do have a small sized phone tech - for instance the Apple Watch. It remains dominated by battery.
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:31 PM
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I don't think a remote display device ever makes sense, because a display always needs a high bandwidth connection to the computer. Generally the trend is for the computer to be built into each display device, or wired to it. A smart watch is a stand-alone computer that is networked to a smartphone, not a remote display driven by the smartphone.
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:44 PM
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No.

I predict the next big technology will be a small computer you carry as a piece of jewelry, that has multiple wireless interfaces (unlike smartphones which only have 2, the touchscreen and verbal interactions).

<snip>

I think that'll replace smartphones in about ~10 years.
I'm not even confident that whatever version of bluetooth we have 10 years from now will get my headphones to connect reliably.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:12 PM
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There is also the antenna, the size of which is constrained by physics. See, for instance the size of a 5G antenna. 5G phones will have up to four of those to deal with signal loss, because


Quote:
millimeter wave signals are extremely challenging to work with. They behave erratically, bouncing off of hard surfaces, including people. And they get blocked by any obstacle in their path. Even putting your hand in front of the antenna will block the signal. Given they are so challenging, mmWave technology requires an array of antennas — multiple elements working together to focus the energy of the signals into beams, which extend their range.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:16 PM
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I don't think a remote display device ever makes sense, because a display always needs a high bandwidth connection to the computer. Generally the trend is for the computer to be built into each display device, or wired to it. A smart watch is a stand-alone computer that is networked to a smartphone, not a remote display driven by the smartphone.
Remote displays certainly work. I can cast my laptop or iPhone screen to my home theatre projector at 1080p resolution over WiFi and it works perfectly happily. Indeed I use it watch movies stored on my iPhone that way. 4k displays are harder, but not vastly so. There is compression involved in the stream, so there are some compromises. But for the needs of wearables, there is no intrinsic limitation.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:31 PM
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I've an S4 mini. So I'm way behind the curve I suppose.

I have no desire for a larger phone or larger screen. Don't watch video on my phone. Never plan to. Very occasional look at the internet on the phone or want to.

I can make phone calls (go figure) email, text and read books. Oh and I use it as an alarm and timer for cooking. The camera is fine.

But I know I will have to pull the trigger and get a new one. The major thing holding me back is I do not want something bigger.
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Old 03-15-2019, 08:03 PM
Wesley Clark is online now
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I'm not even confident that whatever version of bluetooth we have 10 years from now will get my headphones to connect reliably.
Fair enough. My point fundamentally was that smartphones of the future will have a wide range of ways you can interact with them rather than just the built in touch screen and built in microphone we use now.
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Old 03-15-2019, 08:59 PM
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Fair enough. My point fundamentally was that smartphones of the future will have a wide range of ways you can interact with them rather than just the built in touch screen and built in microphone we use now.
The thing about this is that there are only software additions needed to make existing phones talk to the new peripherals. Some interesting devices may benefit from significant processing grunt, but as a driver to obsolete current phones such new devices wonít likely drive the market.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:08 PM
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We already have a two device system - a smart watch tethered to a phone.

Also, Palm is back and selling a pet phone for your phone.
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Old 03-16-2019, 07:55 AM
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This reminds me of something I recently read. Someone has come up with a way to use lasers to produce sound that only a single person can hear. It has to do with heating up water molecules in the air in the vicinity of the person's ear. OK, this is still very early stage of the tech (so far the person just hears a buzzing) and it may not work out, but potentially it could replace ear buds.
At a trade show I went to a looong time ago, one booth had a directional sound demo. If you stood on one spot you could hear music, move a foot or so away and nothing. (The sound was directed somewhat downward so you couldn't really move closer or farther to test what happened with those.)

It was quite eerie. So it's been around a while but I don't know if anyone is using stuff like this.

It uses a flat panel of micro speakers. So there's some size there. To have something like this on a phone would be impractical unless you're willing to give up a good chunk of screen size.

OTOH, since the system is dynamic, the phone camera could track you and direct the sound to wherever you were relative to the phone. (And to the person standing behind you! )
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Old 03-16-2019, 08:19 AM
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The battery may not be user-replaceable, but it just takes a trip to a repair shop to get the battery replaced. I just got it done to my 2-yr old Google Pixel Xl. (Which is another sign that smartphone is a mature technology - for the first time I decided I'd rather replace the battery than upgrade to the new model.)
Lucky you. My phone wasn't as popular as yours, and I couldn't buy a new battery from third parties, nor would the manufacturer replace it. I would have been happy keeping my old phone but for the battery dying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
Actually the dominant component is by far the battery...
yup

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Originally Posted by enipla View Post
I've an S4 mini. So I'm way behind the curve I suppose.

I have no desire for a larger phone or larger screen. Don't watch video on my phone. Never plan to. Very occasional look at the internet on the phone or want to.

I can make phone calls (go figure) email, text and read books. Oh and I use it as an alarm and timer for cooking. The camera is fine.

But I know I will have to pull the trigger and get a new one. The major thing holding me back is I do not want something bigger.
I think if they improve the batteries enough, there will be more small phones on the market. Especially if they improve the battery and also develop a (foldable/rollable/stretchable) larger screen that can be unfurled when desired.
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Old 03-16-2019, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
This reminds me of something I recently read. Someone has come up with a way to use lasers to produce sound that only a single person can hear. It has to do with heating up water molecules in the air in the vicinity of the person's ear. OK, this is still very early stage of the tech (so far the person just hears a buzzing) and it may not work out, but potentially it could replace ear buds.
At a trade show I went to a looong time ago, one booth had a directional sound demo. If you stood on one spot you could hear music, move a foot or so away and nothing. (The sound was directed somewhat downward so you couldn't really move closer or farther to test what happened with those.)

It was quite eerie. So it's been around a while but I don't know if anyone is using stuff like this.

It uses a flat panel of micro speakers. So there's some size there. To have something like this on a phone would be impractical unless you're willing to give up a good chunk of screen size.

OTOH, since the system is dynamic, the phone camera could track you and direct the sound to wherever you were relative to the phone. (And to the person standing behind you! )
One company that does this (directional audio) is Brown Innovations. They sold the sound dome thing to music retailers, so only the person standing beneath the dome could hear the music.
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