Sat Navs to fall, what's next?

Mapping and Satellite Navigation features built into modern mobile phone such as the iPhone and the Nokia N96 have got Satellite Navigation manufacturers running scared.  And with good reason.  Why would you want to carry around a phone and a satellite navigation device?  Point and shoot digital cameras are under similar pressures, with features such as facial recognition and optical zooms slowly making their way into mobiles.

In many ways, sat navs and cameras were obvious choices when looking at mobile phone convergence, but what other, less obvious, devices might soon become integrated into your handset?


Imagine turning up at a meeting, aiming your mobile at a wall and starting a presentation.  No messing around with wires, no worrying about file compatibility, just lay it on the table and start.  Certainly the technology for this scenario is close at hand, and in a few years we’ll no doubt start seeing it in commercial phones.  And as technology progresses, there’s no reason why you couldn’t be dropping your phone on your coffee table and using it to watch a projected high def movie or two.


If you’re going to have a high def projector built into your phone, you’re going to need some content to play on it.  Hence mobile phones will transform the way we consume media.  While I’m not suggesting that your phone will sit in your pocket and silently record Dr Who every week, it will certainly become the interface to our media libraries.  So how will this unfold?  We can look at current services for guidance.  On the one hand you’ve got the BBC iPlayer, which is now accessible on a number of phones including the aforementioned iPhone and Nokia N96.  Then you’ve got Sling Box announcing they are releasing an iPhone client.  These are two very convenient ways to consume media, one is media you’ve selected to store, the other is a huge repository of media that’s stored in the cloud and streamed to you.  The third piece to this puzzle is the way in which you gather media to consume later.  As a Sky+ user I could already add programmes to record through my set top box and the internet, and now thanks to an iPhone application called TV Plus, I can d it through my phone.

Keys, Cash and Credit Cards

I’ve grouped these three things together because they have two things in common.  Their main goal and the technology required.  The main goal of any device hoping to serve as a key or a means of payment is to authenticate the user as a person with access to the location/funds and to securely transmit that information to the requestor.  The technology involves a secure means to transfer this information as well as a means to authenticate the user.  Credit card companies are already on the case.

One of the great benefits of embedding this technology into a mobile phone is that the user can choose their own method of authentication.  So the security conscience can require a fingerprint/iris/dna(!) scan before releasing funds while the rest of us can carry on with out PIN authentication.


The final death toll has been ringing for printers for a few years now.  I know that I rarely use my printer anymore.  In fact, the only things I print regularly are photographs, and I leave that to the professionals.  I don’t send any letters, email covers that, and I don’t really have a need to grab a hard copy of anything.  This situation isn’t going to change any time soon, and as mobile phones get better at exchanging data over short distances (IRDA was never plausible, and Bluetooth isn’t there yet) the household printer really will die a death.


I’ve, of course, left out the obvious.  But will mobile phones really replace computers? I know I use my iPhone for light internet browsing when my computer isn’t around, but it’s pretty much the only phone on the market that allows for serious internet browsing.  There isn’t any phone currently on the market that allows for heavy document editing and while both Blackberry and Apple will claim to have phones that can handle email, neither are quite as functional as a desktop application.  The problem that will hold mobiles back from being true powerhouses  is their size.  Even a laptop has a nigh-on full sized keyboard and, at minimum, a 10inch screen.  if you were to builf a phone with those qualities, it would no longer be a usable phone.  There are workarounds, such as lazer keyboards and projectors, but they aren’t perfect, and may never be.

Photo by Gaetan Lee.