What’s in store for the future of mobile phones?

By Renata Mattos

Last week I watched the 2012 version of “Total Recall,” and I couldn’t stop thinking about that phone implanted in Colin Farrell’s hand. A few days later, I came across a study of 800 technology experts by the World Economic Forum on what technology transformations to expect by 2030 and there it was: the mobile phone implant. That’s when I realized that 2030 is just a blink away.

Robots, AI and automation

So what does the future of mobile phones have in store? The report begins with robots, automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Robots are already used in manufacturing, sometimes taking over entire plant floors and creating new challenges. In other professional environments, machine learning and AI are enabling machines and people to work in a tight partnership.

In the World Economic Forum report, those surveyed said that in 2026, robots would be sitting on executive boards of large companies to provide real-time analysis for decision-making. This year, robots began to work as financial and legal assistants and to aid doctors in the diagnosis of diseases, for instance. The report prognosis is actually becoming reality faster than I could have foreseen — 2030 is right here, knocking on my door.

Download Gartner report on managed mobility services

Another trend noted in the study is 3-D printing. These printers are revolutionizing multiple industries, from civil construction and manufacturing to unlikely ones such as education, food and beverage and healthcare. The report indicates that as early as 2024, 3-D printers could be used to produce organs for transplants.

In fact, in September 2015, doctors from Salamanca University Hospital in Spain were able to implant four 3-D printed ribs and part of the sternum in a cancer patient, according to NPR. The titanium implant, 100 percent customized for the patient, was created on a special 3-D printer from the Australian company Anatomics. In scientific literature, there are already more recent cases of ears, jaws and even cranial “bones” with pieces customized in 3-D printers.

Traveling with the IoT

Technological advancements related to how people use cars are already transforming behaviors in humans and entire industries. Car-sharing is exploding globally and changing what people think about owning vehicles. According to the World Economic Forum, 67 percent of the experts surveyed understand that ride-sharing will increase with the introduction of carpooling through rideshare apps. Private cars will gradually disappear, and driving may soon become a hobby.

Not only that, but by 2030, people will likely be able to enjoy their rides in self-driving cars, allowing for less congested streets with more room for pedestrians and bicycles, and even cleaner air. These cars will use state-of-the-art processors, AI and the IoT to guide you to the fastest route safely. They’ll also use blockchain to automatically deduct trip charges from passengers’ digital wallets or credit cards, with payments instantly flowing to the vehicle owners. 

If you happen to be in DC, Vegas or Miami-Dade County, you may be able to enjoy a glimpse of the future while riding Olli, an IBM Watson-powered, self-driven mobility ecosystem, as creator Local Motors calls it. And guess what? Olli is 3-D printed, of course!

IoT sensors will drive other big changes. By 2020, from the sidewalks to peoples’ clothes, more than 1 trillion sensors will be interconnected. Companies will start investing in the IoT. The number of B2B IoT connections will increase to 5.4 billion by 2020.

The IoT will be one of the main drivers of digital transformation over the next few years, as it allows new business models and enables changes in workflows, productivity improvements, cost containment and improved customer experiences. Very soon, you’ll find yourself surrounded by sensors and you won’t even notice. For all this to be possible, internet access will need to be a basic right of every citizen on the planet.

The future of mobile phones

And finally, the reason for my initial excitement: implantable mobile phones, which, in reality, should be under the nanotechnology category. Digital components continue to grow in capacity and processing power and decrease in size. Eighty percent of the experts surveyed believe that the first “implantable” phone will be available commercially by 2023, according to the World Economic Forum.

In addition to allowing users to communicate through voice, implantable phones may allow people to share their thoughts via brain waves. Imagine the possibilities — imagine the challenges, too. The virtual and real world will gain new frontiers. And there we go again, learning and adapting.

Be careful what you wish for, though, because it may be right here knocking on your door. After all, the future of mobile phones is right around the corner.

Written By

Renata Mattos

Executive- Latin America Lab Services, IBM Systems

Renata Mattos leads the IBM Systems Lab Services Latin America team of over 90 highly skilled professionals and technical consultants. Her responsibilities range from business development and results to engagement delivery and client satisfaction. Her main mission is to foment new…