Beyond simply getting faster and faster, smartphones are also being made with abilities that allow them to work more effectively in a variety of environments. Here are some examples of technology that’s either here or quickly upcoming, that will allow smartphones to adapt to situations more effectively than ever before.
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Portability Adaptation: Flexible Screens
One example of this is going to be screens that can bend. That way, you can fold up a computer and put it in your pocket, or at least bend it considerably more than before in order to fit it into more awkward positions for transport. One of the ways this is achieved is through making the devices thinner and thinner. An example of a developer that’s working on this is PaperTab. They will allow you to make tablets as flexible as paper, eventually, or at least that’s the goal.
The environmental adaptation advantage this could give you would be significant. The entire point behind tablets is to allow more surface area than a mobile phone, but while still having processing power equivalent to that of a desktop computer, or closer anyway.
Another technology that could be a big deal is wireless power for smartphones and other devices. These use something called magnetic induction in order to complete an electric circuit through the air rather than needing something physical. Obviously, you have a situationin which wireless technology is technically around today such as through devices such as the LG Nexus 4. However, the problem is that this requires physical contact even if it doesn’t require a USB cable. Or, alternatively, it could require the device be within inches of the charging pad.
But, it’s looking a lot like we’re going to start seeing this change. The technology is already here in theory. There are demonstrations online of people able to power a television from across a room. This means several feet and not just inches. This could have a huge effect on the environmental adaptation power of smartphones. There could be situations where you need your phone to keep working but you can’t get close to a charger. Eventually, this technology could make it so that you could charge from further and further away. You could end up only needing to remotely access a car hundreds or even miles away from you and aim the powering dish in the right direction in order to get an ailing phone enough power to last when you needed to make an emergency phone call, for example.
It used to be the case that introducing electronics of any kind, including phones, to water was instant death for the sensitive machine. Now, we’re entering an age where full use of phones underwater is becoming more and more possible. It will move beyond simply having phones that are water-resistant to splashing and rain, to the point where you may be able to swim around underwater to considerable depths while maintaining full use of your phone.
An example of phones that can actually handle this right now includes the Samsung Galaxy S. It can operate for 30 minutes in 5 feet of water. The idea behind phones that have environmental adaptation should be that you can continue to use them even when your environment or situation changes dramatically, after all.
The problem with the Galaxy is that you can’t take it very deep. However, someday soon you will have a full phone with tethers that you can take on dives with you when you’re going Scuba diving or even just snorkeling. The phone will adapt to your situation instead of being unable to handle it at all.
Power in Any Situation
Another environmental issue that you might encounter with smartphones is where you’re far away from any potential power, and you need to contact help. Or, on the less dire side of the equation, perhaps you’d just like to keep your phone powered much longer even when you’re away from a power station of any kind whatsoever. For example, currently, phone batteries make it hard to last more than a day or two away from civilization.
One potential solution for this is new technologies related to power such as theoretical phones that can actually run off of radio signals. The idea is that there’s radio moving back and forth all around us all the time. These invisible signals are not always needed in their entirety since there’s a lot of waste and plus some of the waves just bounce off of things instead of going where they’re intended to go. Instead, some inventors have proposed using this extra energy to power your phone.
In the beginning, you won’t be able to get enough to power the phone indefinitely, but it will at least be able to increase the amount your battery can last. Again, you’ll be able to use a phone that can adapt to any environment situations related to low-power conditions. Other possibilities include using various chargers that can convert various resources into energy. And, there’s no reason why this tech can’t eventually be cooked right into a phone. There are conversion possibilities for not just sunlight, but more plentiful resources in some areas like water. There are inefficient chargers today that will convert water into electricity by separating it into its components.
You can get chargers that will convert pure heat into electricity as well. The possibility of simply turning a crank in order to give your phone significant power is there as well since this currently exists for flashlights.
Durability from a Harmful Environment
The danger of your phone breaking due to some environmental factor whether its rain, a car rolling over it or simply dropping it, is also a problem. This is an environmental factor that your phone currently can’t properly adapt to, which leads to cracked screens and so on. An example of how some companies are working on ways to keep phones from being destroyed by blunt trauma is Nokia’s efforts which are trying to adapt graphene, a material hundreds of time stronger than steel, for use in smartphones.
For the last few years, companies have already used materials like Gorilla Glass and even Kevlar to make phones both highly tough and also light enough to use.
This will make it much less likely for these phones to be crushed. In other words, they will be able to resist harmful environments much better. Additionally, the tech advance will also mean that the phones will be considerably more resistant to overheating. So, if you need to use the phone constantly over a long period of time that keeps the screen on, especially during the heat of the day, you may be able to avoid the inevitable searing heat and subsequent shutdown of your phone that would happen now.
Overall, the dream of smartphones or other smart devices is to be able to use it in any situation, regardless of how the environment might be different and particularly harsh towards smart devices. The potential permutations are endless. Saphire could make broken screens a thing of the past, A.I. plus sensors could alert you of threats before they even occur to you. Paired with cameras specifically and this could include even human and animal threats in your vicinity.