A morphed future

The world’s largest manufacturer of mobile devices has looked into the crystal ball and seen the future of mobile devices with the ‘Morph’ concept.

Kushan Mitra | Print Edition: May 18, 2008

Imagine a phone that cleans water and dirt by itself, tells us if the fruit we are eating is clean enough and absorbs solar energy, thereby recharging itself on its own! Welcome to the world of Morph—a concept that is being acknowledged by experts as the future of hand-held phones.

The Morph was a concept device showcased by Nokia at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) for an exhibition titled Design and the Elastic Mind recently. The Morph, which we must clarify is not a “working device” as of now, showcases the enticing possibility of what devices will look like within the next five years as researchers delve into radical new technologies, particularly on the ‘nano’ (microscopic) scale. These new nanotechnologies might make today’s sci-fi tomorrow’s reality. We take a look at what the Morph promises.

New flexible and transparent materials will blend in seamlessly with the way we live. The device can change its physical form depending on conditions, adding not just a new usage dimension but also a new aesthetic to mobile devices.

Nanotechnology will enable selfcleaning and self-repairing devices, which will repel not just water or dirt but also prevent grubby fingerprints and repair small cracks and damage without you noticing.

Nanoscale photovoltaic batteries will absorb solar energy on the move; so, the smaller and more efficient batteries will not require physical charges.

An array of sensors will analyse the environment around you as you move about, doing things such as monitoring air pollution or even telling you whether the fruit you are about to eat has been properly washed or not.

Software advances will make the user-interface far more intuitive than ever before and touch, well, that will be yesterday’s news. The device will sense all sorts of movements and adapt accordingly.

Tapani Ryhanen, Head of Laboratory, Office of the CTO, Nokia
Tapani Ryhanen
What does the future hold for the mobile device? We ask Nokia’s Tapani Ryhanen, Head of Laboratory, Office of the CTO, Nokia, who is looking after several of the Finnish firm’s future initiatives about it.

What is the immediate future of the mobile device?

One of the key trends we see shaping the future evolution of the handset, with respect to form, will be in the sphere of nanotechnology. Nokia is already undertaking research in this area—with the Morph concept—to understand what possibilities nanotechnology might provide for the design and function of mobile devices in a safe and controlled way.

How will the interface between humans and mobile devices change?

We believe nanotechnology can provide enhanced usability, and enable far more intelligent devices. Consumers will want this because it adapts to the context of the user and is easy to use. It will give us a new kind of connectivity to our surroundings.

What are the immediate technical innovations we will see on mobile devices by 2010?

We feel the use of nanotechnology for Morph is the next thing on the anvil. The first technology within the Morph concept will be self-cleaning surfaces; imagine a leaf on which a drop of water falls and rolls off. This is a natural world inspiration for new water-resistant and dirt-repellent materials that may be possible in three years.

Future Cell

You’ve heard the story of a mobile phone not being a mobile phone but rather a “mobile device”. But the phones you will see coming soon will not just be handy all-in-one tools with touch screens and in-built storage. They all look good too. We take a sneak peek.

Bang & Olufsen—Samsung Serenata

A phone does not just have to be functional only; it can be beautiful as well. The Serenata is a touch screen music player and a slider phone with a jog-dial input. Like B&O devices before, it might not turn out to be easy to use. But God, the Serenata is pretty! Unfortunately it is also pretty expensive.

Expected price : Rs 84,000

Apple iPhone 3G
Apple iPhone 3G
Apple iPhone 3G

We know that Apple is on the verge of launching the 3G iPhone soon. We don’t think it will look terribly different from the existing iPhone and we know India won’t have 3G networks for a while yet. But the second-generation device will iron out the wrinkles of the first-gen iPhone, and come with a lot more storage and maybe a better camera as well. C’mon, don’t you always want the latest and best devices?

Expected price : Rs 25,000

Tag Heuer Meridiist
Tag Heuer Meridiist
Tag Heuer Meridiist

Keep in mind that what you will buy with this super-expensive device is a brand, because the technical specifications do leave a bit to be desired. The luxury specifications, however, don’t— sapphire crystal main screen, monochrome OLED on the outer skin, which can also be specified in crocodile skin. Vertu killer?

Expected price : $5,300-6,100 (Rs 2,12,000-2,44,000)

LG Black Label
LG Black Label
LG Black Label

Actually, this phone still does not have a name, but following the success of the Chocolate and the Shine, this new device will feature cutting-edge technology and materials—including a carbon-fibre and tempered glass body.

Expected price : Rs 25,000

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