As new technologies are invented and functions are combined and split between different types of devices it is getting hard to tell which new technology is replacing which old technology.
Phones today are replacing computers, while email is replacing traditional phones, while micro-blogging is replacing email – and the circle keeps going.
So when talking about the future of the phone, I am going to present several related technologies that I hope will work together to replace the phone as we know it.
I have already talked a bit about ubiquitous large screen devices. Some of these could be simple projectors but the most exciting new screens will use fiber-optics and low-intensity lasers to project different colors at different angles from the same pixel. This gives you a 3d image without glasses.
I will have to draw a diagram someday, but basically you will see a different set of pixels at different viewing angles. So you can look around a close object by moving your head to the left or right.
The most important aspect of these displays though, is that you control the objects on the screen completely with HTML. You do not send it an array of pixels like most computer monitors today, or even the graphic primitives the CPU sends to the video card.
Each screen is an independent web-browser that is capable of receiving data-input from any web-connected device that has the correct permissions.
Micro-screens will be the closest equivalent to the current smart phone. They will combine an input component (touch screen) and an output component, but will still be controllable via the web, by any device with the correct permissions, and be able to control other devices too.
Data gloves have been around a long time for use in games but will become more popular as a way to control the virtual 3d objects of the future. Gloves are great for input but also give programmable tactical feed-back. Thankfully computers are now getting to point were they can handle this.
The last device voice remotes come the closest to the original meaning of the word phone. These are essentially next-generation blue-tooth headsets, watches, lapel pins, ear inserts, etc. that have a built in audio web-server and client.
They communicate with any other device that is in range as a fully independent entity. By speaking to this device you can audio-browse the internet, as well as place VOIP calls via any available wireless internet connection.
Finally, using the built-in audio-browser you can control all the other internet connected device that you have permission to access in your home, office, or anywhere else in the world.
There are of course several other pieces that need to come together to make this work, but the project of the day was to describe the phone of the future.
What do you think? What devices do you see in the future? Which devices do you think will come first?