Where mobile technology is heading, from 2011 to 2020

The iPad and iPhone are just the beginning of the mobile revolution under way; here's what to expect in the coming decade

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2014: Voice recognition and transcription technology will run capably on current mobile hardware, providing hands-free control over mobile devices in a broad range of applications. Use of signal-canceling multiple microphones, as well as broad use of headsets, will address the issues of multiple speakers in a room confusing the voice recognition and distracting other people.

2014: The HTML5 specification gains formal approval, even though draft versions have been in widespread use since 2009. The mobile industry's proposed sensor extensions remain in the standards review process.

2014: Smartphones and iPad-style slates surpass laptops as users' primary computing device away from home or the office. In many homes and businesses, traditional PCs will be used by just a few power users, with slates and perhaps cloud-connected laptops being the common computers.

2015: High-speed nearfield networking -- perhaps a flavor of Bluetooth or the nearly forgotten UWB -- will be commonplace in devices beyond computers and computer peripherals, enabling mobile devices to be information and control hubs for a wide range of electronics, from TVs to jogging trackers, from patient monitors to factory equipment. This capability, plus the wide availability of 200GB-plus solid state memory modules that fit in mobile devices, also allows mobile devices to replace most desktop PCs with nearfield-equipped monitors and input peripherals. Mobile devices will dock to monitors, storage, networks, input devices, and so forth automatically. You'll have just one computer -- the one in your pocket -- but it will be able to adapt into more than a smartphone when the right peripherals are around

2016: Environmental sensors-on-a-chip become cost-effective, allowing temperature, chemical, and other environmental measurements to be taken on consumer-grade mobile devices, opening up new medical and industrial uses.

2017: Deployments of LTE and better "4G" cellular technology penetrate most North American urban and suburban centers, increasing available bandwidth for mobile devices and thus accessibility of Web-based and cloud-based services. Ubiquitous computing starts to get real.

2020: Miniaturization and image-projection technologies, coupled with previous 3D gesture technologies, allow mobile devices to be wearable components that combine wirelessly with each other and other nearby devices to provide a less obtrusive mobile computing environment.

It's going to be a great wave to ride!

This article, "Where mobile technology is heading, from 2011 to 2020," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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