You might think smartphones are already ubiquitous devices. Where ever you go in the world they’re there, drawing people’s attention like gravity. But in the near future they’re likely to become even more interwoven into our day-to-day lives, acting as remote controls for our lives, driving our actions, creating pathways and opening doorways.

Here are just some of the ways they could develop in the near future.

Live and direct 3D

Holographic displays could certainly be coming to smartphones soon.
  • A prototype showcased by researchers from Queen’s University in Canada was equally holographic and elastic; enabling users to flex the handset to observe the 3D screen from other angles and socialize with the pictures on screen.
  • An earlier demo video of the iPhone 7 showed user interacting with three displays simultaneously and even playing a simple football game projected over the handset. Clearly it’s not made it on to iPhones yet but we’re betting it’s not that far way.
Bend it, twist it

Simple folding phones are already here when only a few years back they were a designer’s Holy Grail.
  • But researchers have their eyes on bigger prizes. Nokia, for instance created a jaw dropping demo model that could be twisted, folded and resized to suit user needs.
  • It can be wrapped around your wrist, transformed into a GPS-enabled belt clip for hiking and extreme sports, or used as a flat screen to watch videos.
  • You can also slot in additional modules to change the way you use the phone. However, at the moment it’s beyond the realm of commercial viability.
Cool for school

How long before smartphones become de rigueur tools for the classroom rather than the bane of school teacher’s lives?
  • As the price of smart phones has dropped more and more kids have them. Voice and camera recorder functionality have significant potential as learning aids, for instance, making notes and taking photos on field trips.
  • Schools have certainly been quick to leverage phones by using texts to alert pupils and parents to issues and as a means to carry out video calls. Using them to capture homework notes also surely can’t be that far away and also as means to access subject studies in the classroom.

We’ve seen early advances into eco-friendly phones but how far is there to go?
  • Early designs have seen some pretty nutty, but well-intentioned, ideas. There was the phone that ran on kinetic power; you simply twisted it around your finger to gain power. The idea was that you could charge the phone anywhere. However, it’s uncertain how much finger-spinning was required to give the battery a decent boost. Probably too much and too many accidents and broken phones to make it worth it.
  • Solar powered phones have also been a bit of a thing. But best estimates reckon three minutes of sunshine would give you one minute of power. Handy in emergencies but not practical, especially if you live in grey sky climes.
  • The most likely differences we’ll see in the coming years are phone batteries that hold much more power and don’t need recharging as often. There’s a tremendous amount of research going into new battery technologies and also transmitting electricity via Wi-Fi and microwaves. We’ve seen some advanced experiments such as charging electric cars at traffic lights via Wi-Fi power transmission devices embedded into roads and signposts. It’s all leading one way and that is smartphones that power for longer and live longer.
Cyber security – that old chestnut

As smartphones advance will cyber security become uppermost in the minds of the masses? Based on previous evidence we think not.

Android is the predominant mobile operating system worldwide and it’s certainly prey to hackers and malware. Android specific malware numbers in the millions. Malware aimed at Apple devices grows by the week.

As smart devices become increasingly central to our lives, and therefore hold more sensitive data, they’re going to become even more of a target for those with bad intentions.
  • Whether today or tomorrow it’s important to ensure operating system and app updates are applied. Updates will typically include new features for your smartphone but they also include security patches.
  • Install a mobile security product so malware that attempts to sneak in via apps is stopped. A free version of BullGuard Mobile Security is available for Android users. A paid-for version that features parental controls to keep the kids safe is also available for about £1.30 a month.
  • Make sure you manage your passwords carefully and reduce your digital footprint by providing the least amount of private data on your device.