Dumbphones are giving way to smartphones, which are becoming more like mini computers. But how will this trend extend into the future? Japan's KDDI  has imagined the next next-gen device.
This smartphone has evolved to become even smarter, and comes with a companion robotic chargerbase/docking station. Think of it as iPhone 4G-cum-Sony Rolly--the design cues are eerily similar to Sony's bizarre little automated roving MP3 player. Check out KDDI's vision of the future in video:
The phone itself is not too dissimilar in form-factor to the current crop of all-touchscreen smartphones--it's just smarter. Presumably leveraging off enhanced processor power, the phone is supposed to demonstrate a degree of artificial intelligence and it's designed to fully integrate itself into your lifestyle--to such an extent that it'll act as a life-guide too...hence the name Polaris. "Like a capable personal secretary, it delivers essential information when you need it, wherever you may be and with whomever you may be talking" is how the company puts it, expanding on the learning aspects thusly: "Polaris' daily schedule manager monitors your physical condition, like an instructor, by recording walking distances. It analyzes diet data [...] introduces recipes and Web sites were you can purchase suggested organic produce." And it can even serve up "medical and exercize [...] business and entertainment recommendations."
All of that I can just about believe--these features are merely natural progressions of the way we use smartphones now to schedule business meetings, find out information on the go and help us navigate. I imagine it won't be too long before future smartphones have smart location and schedule-aware software, and a synthetic voice that'll pipe-up with messages along the lines of "Kit...you're meeting is in fifteen minutes, and given your current location you should set off on foot now."
But that's where this gets interesting: How much do we want to hinge our lives on PDA-gone-mad companion hardware like this that monitors your daily doings? A gentle "turn left now" message from one's smartphone is very different from a "Dave...I don't think you should eat that food, it's too fatty... I'm sorry Dave, but you can't eat that. I won't let you." It gets even creepier when you think the little smartypants can robotically roam around your home, ticking you off for not feeding the cats or sitting on the sofa watching TV for too long. Some people argue we're already surrendering too much day-to-day time to our devices and interpersonal skills are suffering as a result. Microsoft's vision  of a smartphone future was already scary enough...Is KDDI's Polaris just a step too far ?