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Friday, 3 January 2014

Smarterphones: Sensors to automatically react to users' needs... -

Smarterphones: Sensors to automatically react to users' needs... - 

A staff member sets up the new iPhone 5Ss for display picture at Apple Inc's announcement event in Beijing
The revolution in smartphones is over. This year’s focus will instead be on step changes in technology that will help the devices play an even greater role in people’s lives.

Sensors will be able to detect temperature, pressure, eye movement and gestures, location and magnetic fields. In effect, the screens of premium phones will look back at the user and know when they are sleeping, walking, running or taking the bus; whether or not they are holding up one, two or three fingers or swiping away.
Accenture, the consultancy group, credits advancements in microelectromechanical systems for the coming wave of smaller, more accurate, and more durable sensors.
David Sovie, managing director with Accenture’s communications group, said: “Sensors will step into the spotlight in 2014 like never before, enabling the digital transformation of people and companies and feeding increasingly interconnected networks with insightful data.”
Iris scanning is being planned by some handset makers, which will allow people to open the phone using eye contact rather than a password. This will also allow improved eye tracking for applications such as reading and web page scrolling. Sensors such as those for heart rate monitoring in wearable technology will also emerge this year, according to Canalys.
Crucially, the phone itself will become more intelligent by learning from what it is tracking in the habits of the user. The phone will know who you are and what you are doing, and react accordingly having learnt from past experience.
Luke Mansfield, head of product innovation at Samsung Europe, said: “2014 will see technology start to distil data, and provide even sharper insights, into something even more actionable that can help us make decisions about our health and wellbeing.”
Wearables and watches 
The proliferation of sensors will help wearable technology make the next step into mainstream use, with almost every major manufacturer lining up forms of mobile technology that can be worn on the wrist or elsewhere that will monitor activities and wellbeing on the move.
Most devices will be companion accessories to a smartphone rather than standalone products, although at least two smart watches will come with SIM cards installed that will allow them to connect independently to the mobile internet.
Most Android-based smartphone makers are planning to launch a smart watch, with Chinese makers such as ZTE already promising to bring down the prices with lower end alternatives. Apple, meanwhile, continues to work on the iWatch.
There will be a variety of forms, however, as makers seek to differentiate products with different displays, including at least one with an e-reader format. Many primarily offer notifications and controls for the phone in the pocket.
Many manufacturers are taking ideas already in the market – such as the fitness bands sold by Jawbone and Nike – and weaving them into wider applications where digitally connected people can log every aspect of their lives using their bands, watches and other wearable hardware.
This move by smartphone makers into this “lifestyle” market could cause a dip in the fortunes of specialised wearable devices that only have a single use, such as fitness tracking.
The wearable technology will also spawn new software applications – Ben Wood at CCS Insight has identified eight categories ranging from simple internet consumption and entertainment to the “quantified self” and “lifeblogging”.
Juniper predicts significant opportunities for app developers across the health, fitness, sports and communications markets.


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