Beyond the Phone

Marty Cooper is considered the "father of the cell phone". He conceived the first handheld mobile phone (distinct from the car phone) in 1973 and led the team that developed it and brought it to market in 1983.

Marty talks with Gary Schwartz about the future of the phone and communications.More

@MartyMobile I want to start by asking you about the future. We started with the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X “brick” in the 1980s. We have gone small. We have gone smart. Where to from here? Is the phone going to vanish?
@impulse economy The need to communicate wirelessly will never vanish but the ways in which humans communicate will continue to evolve.Today’s cell phone is still in a primitive and experimental state. The focus is primarily on hardware.
And yet, there are only so many megapixel, megabits per second and megaHertz that can be useful to people. The industry is only now, finally, starting to focus on utility. On how being connected can make us healthier, safer, more productive and entertain us as well.
The future cell phone will be a collection of personal devices and personal applications specifically tailored to its owner. It will be distributed on optimum locations on the user’s body and will automatically and continuously optimize its configuration.
So the body becomes an Internet of Things (IoT) Thing? The future of communication is seamlessly merged into our actions and movement. Like a connected home or connected car.
I’m not opposed to making smart phones more functional. Does it make sense to force a user to search through over a million apps to find one that suits her purpose? What is needed is a concierge to curate the apps based upon the user’s unique needs and deliver the optimum one.
The concierge is an artificial intelligence that learns about her master by asking questions and observing her habits over time. The concierge then either finds, or creates, an appropriate app for every need and installs it. No instructions needed - apps are intuitive, invisible.
So contemporary apps become another click, another layer of complexity. It seems the phone itself becomes another “big app” that may not be needed in a future communication tools. How realistic is that?
Is your vision of a future a communication state of customized haptic sensors that make people more powerful, smarter without Google Glass or Apple Watches? Are we all possibly becoming “Six Million Dollar” creations?
What we call a “phone” today is really a multi-purpose, supposedly universal, device in which the phone is just one application. But we know that when a device purports to all things for all people, it doesn’t do any of them optimally.
The smart phone is evolving into a communications server that has the role of connecting various devices located about and in the vicinity of a person to the rest of the world. We now can envision an optimized phone, embedded near your ear, that will allow you to speak to anyone.
And you’ll do this with a verbal (and ultimately a mental) interface. Forget about keyboards; Google Glass will evolve into a more useful display. Various sensors will measure your health, tailored to needs prescribed by an understanding of your genome.
Education of children will expand into the real world where most of our real education occurs anyway. And because challenging the brain more makes it grow, our children will be inherently smarter. Humans will continue to evolve - but six-million doesn’t really capture the value.
So is the future managed by smart agents like a SIRI, GOOGLE NOW or the Amazon kitchen-bound ECHO? Then is it all a game of DATA? Siri we can ask but GOOGLE NOW knows enough about us to “anticipate” the question.
Without the power of knowing our search and communication history like GOOGLE NOW, a platform like ECHO is relegated to being a simple SPOTIFY controller or weatherman. Is smart data the new “phone”.
Our society is overwhelmed with data. Intelligent and strategic analysis of data makes the difference between success and failure. The combination of the human brain’s ability to abstract and the machine’s ability to analyse huge amounts of data is revolutionary.
Apps such as Siri, Google Now, are toes in the water, tips of the iceberg, bare beginnings.To add to the cliches, we have to crawl before we run.
The future is a collaboration between man and machine where each does what it does best but where the rules are made by man so the outcome benefits man, or woman, as the case may be. So far, this collaboration is working well.
Some day, the machines may start independently deciding what’s best for them, not for mankind. That’s many generations in the future; not to worry now.
So in that case are you concerned that the machine will ever spook the human. Privacy, trust are all big concerns. There are folks hacking IoT baby cams etc. Is the future potentially scary (a la Hal 9000?)
If your machine, your concierge, is your personal, private assistant it will look out for your interest, your security, your safety, your convenience, your health. When we start sharing our assistants, they have to make a choice about who they serve. That’s a long time from now.
If you seek both privacy and security, you must create a personal walled garden for the part of your life that you want to be private and secure. No-one offers that service for you - yet - because they can’t sell your info. But, in time, someone will offer such a service.
So your Motorola DynaTAC 8000X has not only become smaller it has become more human. It is your concierge, your trainer, your confidant.
@MartyMobile I cannot thank you enough for sharing your insights into the future of communication and look forward to reading the book that I know you are presently writing. Thanks again!