Design Roundtable: What Will Cell Phones Look Like 10 Years From Now?

We're back with the final installation of this week's cell phone roundtable. We choose the topic, put forth a few questions to our panel, and bring the most provocative answers back to you. This week, with more details about the Palm Pre and Monday's iPhone G3 S announcement it seemed a good time to ponder some issues about our love affair with mobile. Today's question: What will cell phones look like 10 years from now?

future phoneMark Dziersk, VP Design, Brandimage: Curved. Expect flexible screens to alter form factors dramatically. Cell phones will become life management devices and vehicles to control absolutely everything that has a chip in it. And everything one day will pretty much have a chip in it at some point. Cell phone functionality will include certain aspects that are enabled by implants. It's already possible with pets and such. Also the constant "convergence" factor. Cell phones have already become cameras and music players and web browsers. They will evolve to fully featured entertainment and computing devices and be able to facilitate all financial and legal transactions. People will design their own phones, picking the size, weight, battery life, materials, screen: Built to order. Bluetooth devices will be made by Oakley, others and be invisible to the naked eye, as all voice is transmitted through other accessories, like glasses, earrings, baseball caps.

wearable phone conceptKen Carbone, CarboneSmolan: In the comedy film Zoolander, Ben Stiller's cell phone was about the size of a USB drive. Smaller more compact devices will definitely be part of cellphone evolution. Picture this; two cellular "rings" with rotating parts for function selection. The earpiece ring is worn on the thumb, the mic on the pinky. So when friends use that wiggled hand gesture signaling "call me," it will have added meaning!

Robert Fabricant, VP Creative, frog design: In 10 years, the phone won't matter at all. We will have moved from a phone-based network to an account based network in which I can access all of my communications data from the cloud—from any phone or device that is convenient. The tight coupling of my information to specific piece of hardware will be eliminated, just like email has nothing to do with my PC anymore. This is not just the future for those of us in developed markets with access to corporate IT support and MobileMe. This is the future for the masses. There is a desperate need for broad-based access in developing markets that doesn't require the ownership of a dedicated personal device. Services will allow someone to access their contacts, messaging and credit from any device, whether the phone belongs to their uncle or is a community phone. People will have multiple accounts. Employers will enable accounts as will local health workers so that people can access sensitive information related to HIV or TB without having to compromise the confidentiality of this information on a shared device. This revolution is starting right now with companies like MoVirtu.

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Design Roundtable: How Can Cell Phones Improve the World?
Design Roundtable: How Have Cell Phones Changed Our Behavior?

Any features you'd like to see in the cell phone of the future? Give us a ring in comments.

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  • cellphones

    Cell phones are playing a vital role regarding world economy they contribute a lot for the development of countries. Cell phone industry is rapidly booming and expanding all over the world. Cell phones industry is going to be the largest industry of the world.

  • James hopes

    I can access all of my communications data from the cloud--from any phone or device that is convenient. The tight coupling of my information to specific piece of hardware will be eliminated, just like email has nothing to do with my PC anymore.
    Used AT&T Cell Phones

  • Julia Dalton

    All interesting ideas! It is so difficult to truly predict the advancements that will be coming out because you never know what is in people's imagination. It really depends on the direction that phones go in. Currently, we have a trend in smartphones like the newest iPhone 3GS that are more like computers than they are phones. If their continues to be interaction with the device itself, I can't imagine them getting smaller.

  • Steph Robbins

    Well I am happy to find the new design of mobile in 2020, I think any new technology will replace the current technology and you will never found this kind of stuff. Anyways thanks for sharing the design of mobile features. MCITP


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  • TJ Barone

    It's so easy to forecast 10 years into the future because no one will remember to come back and tell you how wrong you were.

    So let me start. Implants and finger phones? No. 100% wrong. 10 years from now, every cell phone will be a newer version of the iPhone, or some ripoff there of. A touchscreen that can become anything, always connected. The apps will be more useful and integrated into everyday life.

    Oh, and it's called the iPhone 3GS. Not the iPhone G3 S. Really.

  • I'm the Cold Wiz

    I couldn't be happier than we're ending the cell phone roundtables. The subject of phones (whether land-lines, cell, or Maxwell Smart's shoe) really isn't that exciting anymore. It's "so year 2000".

    Speaking of Y2K, it's funny how we sit and contemplate what the future of cell phones will be; kinda like how in old movies when someone would talk about the year 2000, there would be scenes of calendar pages and clocks whizzing by, and then the film would somehow stop on images of people in flying cars, moving sidewalks, space suits, and entire meals in the form of a tiny pill!

    I guess my point is that this topic is a question whose answer doesn't really matter....and something tells me that in ten years time, the cell phone will just (as with fashion) either evolve to some other sleek looking accessory, have other apps that are more useful (or not) to everyday life, OR (dare I say) take on a "retro" feel where all the teenagers in the year 2019 will be walking around with HUGE walkie-talkie looking blocks of plastic with antenna sticking out above their heads to discuss their trips to the mall.
    NEWSFLASH: The year 2000 came and went and we're still living like the Jetsons. Check this blog in 10 years time and you'll laugh that we even addressed the question......I'm the Cold Wiz