What a smartphone will look like in 5 years

The iPhone 5 demonstrates the significant evolution of smartphones since Apple introduced the disruptive device in 2007. CNET's Sumi Das talks to the Institute for the Future to find out how smartphones will change our lives yet again.

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Remember that wild and woolly time before iPhones? I do. In early 2007, I used to keep a Thomas Guide in my car. I think it was also the last time I played Scrabble by picking actual tiles from a bag. As the Apple faithful contemplate the better life that awaits with a 4-inch screen and 4G LTE, it got us thinking -- not about the changes in the past 5 years but about how we'll use smartphones in another 5.

We enlisted the help of Mike Liebhold, senior researcher at the Institute for the Future, to help paint the picture. He described a hyperconnected device that can be charged wirelessly and will come in an assortment of form factors: a wearable version that straps to your forearm and includes a keyboard, and a lower-priced credit card–size phone for developing countries.

Much of the information we learn at our annual physical could be fed to us daily with smartphone apps: our pulse rate and blood pressure levels. Liebhold even suggested that our phones will detect our emotions, when we're happy or too nervous. With any luck, it'll be more accurate than a mood ring.

And just like my well-worn, heavily dog-eared Thomas Guide, my trusty leather wallet is likely to be replaced by a smartphone. The new iPhone 5 may not have near field communication (NFC), but by 2017 it should be standard issue. Just swipe your phone past a sensor to pay for those to-die-for boots that caught your eye. Liebhold says there is one obstacle: current cash registers have no way of talking to an NFC device. But he shared a rumor that could solve that pesky problem: when Apple does put NFC in its phones, it may also give retailers iPads to serve as point of sale terminals.

About the author

    Sumi Das has been covering technology since the original dot-com boom. She was hired by cable network TechTV in 1998 to produce and host a half-hour program devoted to new and future technologies. Prior to CNET, Sumi served as a Washington DC-based correspondent, covering breaking news for CNN. She reported live from New Orleans and contributed to CNN's coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which earned the network a Peabody Award. She also files in-depth tech stories for BBC News which are seen by a primarily international audience.

     

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