20 Mobile Trends and Future Technologies

Spokespeople from Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Sony Corp. and Research in Motion Ltd. provided food for thought on upcoming uses for mobile devices at a Technology Town Hall meeting in Toronto Tuesday.

Spokespeople from Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Sony Corp. and Research in Motion Ltd. provided food for thought on upcoming uses for mobile devices at a Technology Town Hall meeting in Toronto Tuesday.

Slideshow: 2009's Top 10 Emerging Enterprise Technologies

Hosted by Ron Huxter, CCTO for Ontario Public Service, the Office of the Corporate Chief Technology Officer (OCCTO) event takes place every year to spark conversation between the public and private sectors on IT trends and upcoming technologies.

The presentations focused on emerging trends and future applications for mobile technology. Here are 20 highlights.

From the RAZR to the 3GS

Five years ago, the must-have mobile device was the Motorola RAZR. Today, it's the iPhone 3GS, said Info-Tech's lead research analyst Mark Tauschek. Speculating on what's to come five years from now and highlighting how much the technology has already changed, Tauschek pointed out that smart phones are as much about the OS as they are about the hardware. He pointed to Motorola's DROID powered by Android 2.0 and the Palm Pre's WebOS.

Smartphones versus MIDs ... and eBook readers

Tauschek anticipates a future convergence between smart phones and Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) like the new Nokia N900. It's already difficult to tell the difference between the two types of devices, he said. eBook readers like the Amazon Kindle are also turning into multi-function devices with the ability to connect to 3G networks, noted Tauschek, and starting to get picked up in the enterprise space.

Netbooks, convertible tablets and mini notebooks

In his lecture on the "mobile revolution," Tauschek highlighted devices like the Asus Eee T91 netbook and mini notebooks like Sony's Vaio P.

Keyboards and screens become user-friendly with peripherals

Tiny keyboards and small screens are holding back today's mobile devices, according to Tauschek, who anticipates a future focus on peripherals. He pointed to laser-generated keyboards, which produce a full-sized keyboard on any flat surface, smartphones with built-in projectors like the recently-announced LG eXpo from LG and AT&T, and the Blackberry inPulse smartwatch as examples of how to enhance the use of mobile devices.

Wireless carrier networks: faster, more reliable, ubiquitous

Wireless networks have evolved significantly over the last 10 years, Tauschek pointed out, with 2G providing up to 236.8 Kbps in the late 90's to 3G offering up to 56 Mbps in 2005 to 4G expected to bring over 100 Mbps in 2010. In five years, speeds of 50 Mbps or greater will be commonplace and 100 Mbps will not be unusual, he said. Tauschek also suggested increases in reliability and seamless roaming between public and private networks are on the way.

Mobile app stores: Three sweet spots in the space

Mobile devices are all about the apps, according to Tauschek. Devices and networks are important, but it is the applications that drive adoption, he said. Three app stores in particular will have a "sweet spot" in the space: The App Store from Apple, the leader with two billion downloads and more than 100,000 apps; Blackberry's App World, which had a late start and has some catching up to do; and The Android Market, which will see a surge in apps with the increase of devices like DROID on the market, he said.

Enterprise app store coming soon from Citrix

Citrix has a "neat idea" for an enterprise app store with Receiver, according to Tauschek. Receiver allows users to select apps from their smartphones using a menu that resembles a TV guide, he explained. The apps are streamed and run in the datacentre. It has a little ways to go, but it is almost an enterprise version of The App Store, he said.

Apple's tablet, OLED and fuel cell batteries

Flexible/foldable OLED displays are one of Tauschek's three favourite future technologies. He also highlighted the rumoured tablet/MID from Apple, as well as fuel cell batteries and chargers. Toshiba has already presented a prototype for a fuel cell battery and charger, he pointed out.

Six monitors equal one gigantic display with Eyefinity

Advancements in displays have moved from VGA to SVGA to 1080p to ATI Eyefinity, a new AMD technology that can run up to six 20-inch monitors as a single display, noted Joe Macri, CTO of Client Computing Solutions at AMD.

The next-gen processor: APU

Macri also discussed the next-generation Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) processor under development at AMD, which merges a CPU with a GPU into single processor that includes a unified memory system. APUs will significantly enhance active and resting battery life, he said.

All-day computing

The future is all about all-day computing, according to Macri, who envisions users charging their devices only once a day.

Demand for high-performance computing will rise

Macri also expects the need for high-performance computing to increase. The devices won't matter as much as how much compute power you have within your device, he said.

Libraries and schools adapt to eBooks

Sony sees eBooks as a trend going forward in libraries and schools. Toronto Public Library has more than 7,000 eBook titles available and continues to increase its eBook catalogue, noted Ravi Nookala, senior vice-president of B2B Solutions for Sony of Canada. He also highlighted a Toronto school as the first in the world to replace textbooks with Sony Readers.

Smart phones will replace wallets and keys

Near Field Communication (NFC) is another "game-changing technology," according to Nookala. The technology, which provides secure, high-speed two-way communication between devices, can be used to make payments and process transactions through smartphones.

NFC technology is already used in Japan, he noted, where e-money is accepted in more than 30,000 stores. Users place $50 amounts, for example, into their smartphones to make payments or use vending machines. Smart phones are also replacing loyalty cards, e-tickets and train passes -- and apartment keys are being integrated into mobile phones.

TV will re-establish itself as the head of the household

Sony also expects the television will regain its position as the centre of the home, with built-in computers that allow users to watch Internet content on their TV screens, Nookala said.

The next big thing: OLED

Like Tauschek, Nookala highlighted OLED as "the next technology" that will significantly impact devices like TVs, cell phones, monitors, tablets and music players. It may take time, but it will eventually come to the market, he said.

Devices powered by kinetic energy

Nookala also sees the utilization of kinetic energy for powering products. Prototypes of cameras with a built-in wheel that users can roll to produce power for a couple of shots are already out there, he noted.

IP video security goes from passive to aggressive

Security is one of the key infrastructure needs and Nookala expects this need to increase over time. With live streaming video and the ability to access multiple security cameras from a single mobile device, security monitoring will no longer be a passive activity, he said.

Toronto Police Service is already taking IP video security to the next level by using GPS technology, which allows the police to control IP video cameras from any location through their mobile devices, he pointed out.

The "killer app" is still e-mail

People are always talking about the next killer app, but the killer app is still e-mail, said Jeff McDowell, vice-president of business segment marketing at RIM. The forecast growth areas for 2009 and beyond are industry and role-oriented apps, according to RIM.

When asked what apps drive the highest business value for their organization, 45 per cent of Canadians said e-mail, 40 per cent said business apps and 16 per cent said Internet connectivity, he noted. Of the business applications, Salesforce automation and CRM ranked first at 13 per cent, while financials and ERP followed at 10 per cent.

Canadians like Blackberries

The Blackberry, according to RIM, is still the No. 1 selling smart phone in the world. Sixty per cent of Canadian smart phone users carry a Blackberry, he said.

Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur.

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