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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.

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?

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future phone

Mark 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 concept

Ken 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.

Related:
Design Roundtable: Why Do Cell Phones Go Out of Fashion so Quickly?

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.

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.

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