Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sensory Mobile Communication & Devices

What Makes a Smart Phone 'Smart'?

I like to read John Paczkowski's "Digital Daily" (All Things Digital) and today's post ("Smartphones Selling Far Better Than Dumb Ones") made me remember a 'vision' paper I did several years ago for a rather large wireless company. The paper was called "The Sensory Internet." In short, the paper stressed the importance of remembering how people communicate and interact in their daily lives -- when designing devices and creating new network infrastructure (5 senses: hear, see, feel, touch, taste)

Keep in mind the synonyms to 'communicate' which is what we do with 'smart phones' and laptops. reference the following words in context of 'communicate': acquaint, advertise, advise, announce, be in touch, betray, break, broadcast, carry, connect, contact, convey, correspond, declare, disclose, discover, disseminate, divulge, enlighten, get across, get through, hint, impart, imply, inform, interact, interface, keep in touch, let on, let out, make known, network*, pass on, phone, proclaim, publicize, publish, raise, reach out, relate, report, reveal, ring up, signify, spread, state, suggest, tell, touch base*, transfer, transmit, unfold, write

Let's take a historical perspective to Sensory Communication Devices (hear, see, feel, touch, taste) from a mass-market perspective (@ home and business)

We were first introduced to ‘sensory’ communication with the landline phone in the 50s (mass market). Note that I'm disregarding military communication, newspapers and going to the movies as I give this perspective. Having a phone (talk) at home, talking to grandma several miles away was "just like magic."  Then, in the sixties, we saw the entrance of the black & white TV (see). Our seeing and hearing experience were further enhanced with the introduction of color TV in the 70s. Just a decade later or so, the "personal computer" (desktop PC) made inroads from business to consumer and desktop game devices were introduced (remember Commodore 64?).

We experienced a communication revolution in the nineties where phones, PCs, pagers and cell phones made it easier to communicate and reach each other. Add billboards and advertising (print and TV) and we found ourselves surrounded with visual images and electronic media.  The nineties showed us that text alerts could change the way we communicate and this had a profound impact on productivity and response. Mobility of voice and digital communication improved our senses with regard to hearing while moving as did DSL and Cable to our homes (proliferation of online gaming).

From 2000 to 2005, mobile voice and mobile data showed us that we can be anywhere while communicating with the rest of the world. A rice farmer in Vietnam now has the same access to communication and information and a investment banker in London – sort of speak. By 2007, mobile broadband mirrored the LAN of the late nineties.

The impact of sensory communication has a profound impact on the network traffic of tomorrow. By 2010, 1 to 1, and 1 to many video communication and individual webcasting, will be the norm (big network impact). By 2012, we will see the beginning of ‘feel sensory communication where a Wii-like experience within devices where touch and feel enhances the experience (I do not count my vibrating phone as a sensory experience, it's more of an alert mechanism). By 2015, I predict we will be able to enable ‘touch’ communication using mobile devices (a sense of touch, not human like). There are labs working on this right now.

By 2020, today's 7 year olds will be able to communicate with touch, feel and taste – making use of all five senses (sensory) to communicate with the world

It goes without saying that the demands on carrier's infrastructure (coverage, capacity and connectivity) will be detrimental unless we plan for the impact. Tomorrow will see today’s megabyte subscriber become a Terrabyte subscriber and the network traffic will be measured in hundreds of Zettabytes.

So, what makes a phone smart? Just adding applications to voice and thus the phone is smarter?  No, adding 'senses' help enhance the mobile device experience. What we need is a new term as we develop networks and devices capable of sensory communication. Naming the Sensory device will be left to the marketing experts.