A New Age of Mobile is Coming

Today you can buy a smartwatch that reminds you it’s time “stand up” and “breathe,” tell the cylinder named Alexa who sits on your kitchen counter to play that funky music, hop on a electric skateboard and see via the app how many miles you’ve traveled, and flail around while playing virtual reality games with your friends.

Times are changing so quickly you might not even know enough about mobile trends to have the option of becoming early adopter.

The Internet of Things

Once only a network of connecting computers communicating, now the internet has evolved and extended its reach beyond computers to the realm of “things”. Things like your fridge, car, alarm clock, baby monitor and more are all being connected to the internet in order to expand their utility.

At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show the CEO of Carnival Cruises debuted a wearable medallion that will soon be available to cruise guests. The tech will unlock their cabin door, act as a swipeable form of payment and even track guests’ children.

As companies build in more connectivity and abilities into everyday things, it will be up to consumers to determine if the convenience is worth the price tag. Self driving cars, for example, are already creating buzz and demand specifically around the new Teslas. Smart pet feeders or washing machines that tell you to add more soap are not currently capturing the imagination and wallets of the public quite yet.

Wearables, however, seem to be one “thing” that consumers seem to be already invested in. According to research firm Gartner, 342 million devices will be sold in the US in 2017. Tech sites have articles upon articles detailing new wearables such as smart rings that pay for you, electrical tattoos, smart condoms, patches that measure hydration or remind you to sit up straight, pet wearables, self-lacing sneakers, smart glasses for bicyclists and more.

Some within the tech community are raising concerns about the lack of security built into wearable technology. Users aren’t aware that only about half of wearable devices have a privacy policy. Many Fitbit users, for example, were unaware that their Fitbits tracked “sexual activity” and it was visible to everyone by default.

Threat Researcher Candid Wueest used a program he developed to show Jawbone and Fitbit wearers at a security conference how easy it was to how easy it was to find out people’s whereabouts, their listed hardware addresses, and the time they actually left or entered the room. Much like companies who are now implementing integrated security solutions to protect their information, wearable tech developers need to focus on improving their security and privacy offerings.

Virtual Reality

Though VR is often thought of as a console-driven technology, it seems that VR is moving more and more towards mobile viewing. Google and Facebook are currently engaged in a fight to reach VR platform dominance. Google’s VR compatible headset is called the Daydream and is powered by the Google Pixel. Facebook’s Oculus VR system is compatible with Samsung’s Gear VR headset.

There are some problems, such as smartphones overheating and causing lags while running both VR systems due to phone’s inability to expel excess heat. Other challenges include the lack of VR headset options for the huge market of iPhone users as Samsung’s Gear VR is only compatible with two Samsung phones.

Even though mobile VR technology is still in it’s infancy and hasn’t yet become completely mainstream, the adoption rate is still impressive. Oculus recently announced that people had already watched more than three million hours of video in Samsung’s Gear VR.

Another real change VR will have is on the mobile filming side. With platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram stories, Youtube hosting millions of hours of user created content, VR will truly take off when these same users start to film more immersive 360 degree style videos. Mike Wadhera at TechCrunch predicts: “Today’s best mobile-video apps make you feel like you’re there watching, but tomorrow’s apps will feel like you’re participating via teleportation.”

The new age of mobile finds users even more immersed in technology. It’s becoming more integrated on our bodies as new, though often insecure, wearables are brought to market.

It’s also bring us further and further into another reality as our devices will be able to transport us to other places and mimic reality with nascent VR technology.