Saturday, January 4, 2014

Smartphones Set to Become Even Smarter

FT says:

Crucial to many devices this year will be intelligent sensors that monitor the user, allowing smartphones to automatically react to their needs – even before they are aware of them.

Sensors used so far in smartphones have been relatively crude, even if already numerous. The latest iPhone model, for example, includes a pedometer, compass, accelerometer, GPS and fingerprint scanner.
Improved sensors will allow phones to act and react in a similar manner to Microsoft’s Kinect games console, which can understand hand gestures and recognise faces. Indeed, Nokia, which is soon to be owned by Microsoft, will make a much greater play of sensors this year in a revamped range of devices expected in the spring, according to people familiar with the company.

Sensors will be able to detect temperature, pressure, eye movement and gestures, location and magnetic fields. In effect, the screens of premium phones will look back at the user and know when they are sleeping, walking, running or taking the bus; whether or not they are holding up one, two or three fingers or swiping away.

Accenture, the consultancy group, credits advancements in microelectromechanical systems for the coming wave of smaller, more accurate, and more durable sensors.

David Sovie, managing director with Accenture’s communications group, said: “Sensors will step into the spotlight in 2014 like never before, enabling the digital transformation of people and companies and feeding increasingly interconnected networks with insightful data.”[...]

The proliferation of sensors will help wearable technology make the next step into mainstream use, with almost every major manufacturer lining up forms of mobile technology that can be worn on the wrist or elsewhere that will monitor activities and wellbeing on the move.

Most devices will be companion accessories to a smartphone rather than standalone products, although at least two smart watches will come with SIM cards installed that will allow them to connect independently to the mobile internet.

Most Android-based smartphone makers are planning to launch a smart watch, with Chinese makers such as ZTE already promising to bring down the prices with lower end alternatives. Apple, meanwhile, continues to work on the iWatch.

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