It’s interesting that in the space of 5 years or so we’ve gone from talking about ‘smart’ phones, to just ‘phones’. The smartphone has taken hold so quickly and thoroughly that we now assume the phone carried by the person we’re dealing with will be ‘smart’ and not ‘dumb’. When did you last talk to someone carrying a now old-fashioned cellphone that could make calls and maybe send texts, but nothing more?
Every tradesperson I deal with these days used a map with turn-by-turn directions to find my house, takes photos for the job, makes notes on specifications, quickly measures an angle or scans a document and emails it back to base — all on their phone.
In reality a phone these days is only barely a phone. The ‘phone’ part was a brilliant marketing ploy. After all, how many people would queue outside stores to buy a ‘personal pocket computer’? None, I suspect. Yet they did in the early days to buy the iPhone, this phone that could do so much more.
And now the phone has a personal assistant. I raise my wrist and talk to my watch: “Hey Siri, set a reminder for 10 am today to call the plumber.” If I look at my phone a moment later I’ll see that reminder in place. At 10 my watch taps my wrist and buzzes, the screen comes on to display my reminder. If I’m using my computer that reminder also pops up there too. It’s unmissable.
My devices talk all day, sharing information that will help me do my work, have fun and record my life, if I want them to.
The phone was already a fairly personal item, carried in my pocket or bag, but now the watch is on my wrist, touching my skin, even recording my heartbeat. I can see it, hear it, feel it. It’s become a ‘personal wrist computer’.
I’m sure a dreamer somewhere is already drawing up designs for the next iteration of personal computer device. It’s hard to imagine what that will be though, unless it somehow taps directly into our brains.
But the key to success so far seems to be to connect the new device to something we already know and use. We went from cellphones to smartphones, from wristwatches that told us the time and date to smart watches that not only tell the time, but also track our steps, give us directions to our destination and alert us to the need to stand up after a prolonged period of sitting.
Perhaps next we’ll have smart earrings that connect to the phone and do something we haven’t thought of before — more than just a Bluetooth earpiece relaying voice calls, or the earbuds that let us listen to music. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to learning about it.