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What's the next product that will disrupt the smartphone industry? (kapuno.com)
27 points by cyrusradfar 1756 days ago | hide | past | web | 54 comments | favorite

A little bit of a side story about something that really opened my eyes last week.

I ordered a package that was shipping through UPS and when I called I was dismayed that there wasn't a way to enter my tracking number (It was 15ish alpha-numeric characters) besides speaking. So I thought "Okay, AAyyy--Fiivvee--Geeee..." I was about half way through slowly saying the tracking number when I was interrupted "Package not found, try again?"... Okay. "I must have to rattle this off pretty quick" I thought, so I blew threw it. It immediately found my package, told me where it was and when it was expected to arrive.

It was amazing. Voice recognition was good enough that UPS deems it fail-safe enough to have it be the only way to find a package by phone. That was the first time I really thought there might actually be a chance for an almost fully speech operated phone without a traditional UI.

In the jet-pack future I've always hoped that there was some way to build a side-channel on voice to send over some kind of data so there's something you can do with your phone other than talk into it and push DTMF tones.

There have been experiments with throwing side-band text into the phone for a while now, but they never amounted to much. Nortel experimented with this in the 1990s before IP telephony took off but because it used the call-display encoding mechanism, it was slower than dirt.

I had to use a similar system from Amtrak that could barely understand a 6 digit ID number, though it was a number that had 3's, B's and E's in it. When it supposedly understood the number, it for some reason tossed me over to an operator to finish the process, and the operator had me read the number to them again. Either UPS has a far better system, or you got lucky with a tracking code that had very distinctive letters.

As someone who doesn't have a very good english accent I find the speech recognition isn't that good. People understand me just fine, but sometimes, no matter how much effort I put into it, the software will not.

Most of them fall back on a human operator after 5+ tries ;-) Yeah that's how I know... :(

I can't personally say I feel your pain; however, my mother does. She has a thick middle-eastern accent. It's one of the funniest things seeing her try to request directions by voice on her Nexus.

One tip that might help her is to do an exaggerated impression of an american accent when speaking to her phone.

When using my nexus I regularly mispronounce words and names so that the voice recognition can make sense of it.

Thanks that's helpful, I'll pass it on.

I've read a lot of sci-fi that had a dermal mic taped to your neck, and you kinda whisper with your mouth shut to control a computer.

Looks like we might nearly have that tech?

Not sure what you're referring to but it sounds cool.

Good story albiet, quite off topic :)

The thing about disruptive technologies that I've noticed is that they rarely come from the originator of the technology. Instead it takes a company like Apple to sit down and finally work out how to present the technology in a way that the average person not only can use it but enjoys using it. The next thing to disrupt the smartphone industry won't be some crazy new technology noobdy has ever heard about but instead be a well assembled collection of existing technologies made ultra intuitive and easy to use.

I think it's worth considering that Apple was particularly adept at developing the products that have flourished for the past 6 years. You can't definitely say who will be the best able to bring the next big thing.

Agreed. I think the next big thing for mobile tech will be something like wireless charging, or some boost in battery tech.

Outside of mobile, the next big disruptive tech will probably be electric cars.

I imagine a future, where cafés has screens in the coffee tables your phone will dock up to the larger display and take advantage of that. When you are near a TV at a friends house you will be able to directly display pictures on their TV or a hotel without hassle.

Airplanes will have USB chargers in the seat or near to the infotainment screen. This will provide you with a fresh device charge so that you arrive to your destination with full battery.

You will be able to be social with your phone and share things with your friends. This will be much simpler than today.

When sitting at home the voice recognition in the phone will be able to pick up places you talk about and show information relative to that, such as maps. If you are discussing a trip the phone will be able to search for flight and hotel information by listening to the conversations speech.

Augmented reality will help you remember faces, navigate through the city. Show the best places where to go when in a foreign city.

Eventually there will be world global flat rate mobile internet. There will be more high density mobile transmitters there is definitely the possibility to integrate mobile transmitters in street light posts. So that the lamp posts have standardized module connectors where mobile operators get power and fiber connection to the Wi-Fi and mobile base stations.

Cell phones will be able to transmit your location to nearby cars to avoid collisions.

Diverting a bit from the subject. Here is what author of the blog says about himself: "Programming since I was 7 and built a lot of what you're using now." Wish I had such confidence in promoting my self.

I'm pretty sure I'm not using anything he built, since I've never heard of him or anything he . Confidence and self-delusion are different things. If he's been really busy in the Open Source world, I might be using something that he's contributed some code to, but that's not the same thing. (I'll occasionally say, "You've probably used some code today that I've worked on." or similar...which is as far as I'm comfortable going in claiming credit for "a lot of what you're using now".)

In short, I find that kind of self-aggrandizing comment a bit distasteful, when it is not said by someone with a really impressive history.

That's out of context. That's my tagline on Kapuno.com, which is the product I used to post the article. I built the product which, based on what you've seen looks like a blog but there's actually a bit more to it.

Didn't think about reading it that way and it's helpful that you shared your perspective. Thank you!

By "built a lot of what you're using now" he could mean he built a large part of the site that hosts the article.

The product that the post was posted to was something I've been working on for a while.

With scanning electron microscopes so cheap, materials science is moving very quickly lately, e.g. Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC). I think that makes it that much harder to predict disruptive products, which not uncommonly include a convergence of new(ish) technologies. (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528786.100-why-wood-... )

But that said, form factor seems to be the most unresolved issue.

Each newly popular size (Samsung Tab, iPad mini, etc.) between the original iPhone and iPad sizes is hailed in some corners as changing the way users look at their devices ("I've stopped using my ___ because this new form factor does everything I want"-style comments).

It seems to me that "highly portable" and "can use with a keyboard" are two camps that seem will never converge...but IF they could, it would very disruptive to other form factors.

A folding tablet with available keyboard could be one possibility to converge those two form factors (which I posted about on HN quite awhile back at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3422295).

But since the next disruption may rely on convergence between technologies that aren't yet with us, who knows? And even things that look great (video phones and flying cars famously having been around for a loooong time) who knows if it will be something like Google Glasses or not? Hard to predict what will be adopted, and what it will be competing with to get users to adopt it.

Isn't this basically Google Glass in a different form factor? I guess the advantage of a band is that it doesn't encumber one's appearance, while the disadvantage is that you require some sort of external display device to read your output.

(the inter-device connectivity/authentication seems like something that would happen naturally via bluetooth to Google Glass)

Well, maybe, I haven't used glass. Think of the band as a hub that identifies you and connects to the world

I fully share this view. There are already a few offers, but it still needs some more work regarding thickness and autonomy.

The benefit is that the phone can stay in the pocket while we check for new messages or new events or do some quick and simple actions. This would be much less intrusive than a phone.

Puhing this idea further we can imagine sensors attached to the body and connected to the phone. Same for cars and room we would frequently be in.

Bluetouth communication is underused.

What about using nfc and phones to control hiddden or smart locks ?

A number of folks have speculated on the connector 'rock' (something like a wallet you carry around which connects you to the net) and then a variety of peripherals which are service portals too it. I could imagine just pairing my BT headset with an iPad and making phone calls on it. I don't really need to hold the transmitter up to my head.

But the smartphone/tablets are in the process of disrupting the PC industry, so I'm not sure they are ready for being themselves disrupted yet.

I'm a proponent of a device that you never take off. It needs to be waterproof, comfortable, and robust. If that's true then people can design assuming that it's always with you.

I don't think this is a pipe dream.

I'm hoping the Pebble Watch will be at least a step in that direction. I'm planning to downgrade to a not-very-smart Android phone to replace my iPhone when my Pebble arrives - with the intention of the phone being mainly to make and recieve calls, send text messages, and provide internet access to the watch and my tablet. I suspect the watch and a tablet between them will do everything my smartphone does, but better - apart, of course, from making calls(though I have been known to use Skype on the iPad via shared-over-wifi 3G internet from the phone in my pocket). I doubt it exists right now, but I'm imagining a tiny phone (the size of an old Nokia 3210 or a Sony Erickson 8210), with Siri-style voice recognition to deal with text messaging, and maybe a decent-enough camera. Preferably with a week-long battery life.

I have already downgraded to a Blackberry Curve 9360, because of getting an iPad. I mostly use it for texting and calling. I really think you're right, at least to me smartphones stopped making sense after I got an iPad. Thanks for the shared-over-wifi 3G internet tip – can't believe I never thought of it.

The speech thing will be key I think. I'd be happy to be able to ask my virtual assistance to make calls for me like that.

I would love a 3210 size android device that is comfortable to listen to music while jogging.

This reminds me of the Personal Area Network (PAN), which was supposed to be the Next Big Thing in mobile technology 5 or 6 years ago. The idea was you'd have a device that connects you to the cell tower and it would create a bubble of BlueTooth or ZigBee connectivity that would allow you to get texts on your wristwatch, connect your laptop to the internet, interact with other nearby personal networks, etc.

I've never heard of that eli, you have a good link?

EDIT: Just used that Google machine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_area_network

Interesting stuff. Thank you.

Sure thing. I don't have a better link, but I was tangentially in the telecom industry at that time.

Looking back, it seems like the people betting on "convergence" were right. With iPads getting smaller and smartphones getting bigger it seems like we're trending towards one device that's slightly too big to fit in a pocket.

(I think the PAN concept was also a bit overhyped by people who had a vested interest in their particular flavor of networking technology)

Maybe the next big thing will be a shift to truly useful smartphones, something that enables you to be productive instead of only being able to consume apps and services.

Ubuntu for Android looks like a move in the right direction. http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/android

Better hope you don't lose your device. Or worse, better hope bad guys don't kidnap you. Instant access to everything your band authenticates you to.

Maybe just your family photos, maybe access to your company's source code, maybe unlocks the door to your house!

I think it's a great idea to be honest, but there are troublesome issues.

That's true, it's an issue; but I hope you'd agree one that's not insurmountable.

For example, it could be incredibly easy to invalidate your band by, for example, calling a number, going to a website or, from a mobile phone.

Yes that would work for losing your band, similar to a credit card, makes sense.

But with people walking around with the keys to their entire kingdom, I am perhaps more worried about the kidnapping sort of scenario.. Maybe I've just seen too many movies.

Re: Kidnapping, maybe it's all the marketing for Liam Neilson's Taken 2. For f---'s sake, how many time can the guy's family get kidnapped!

With respect to banking and other auth, you could have a second level auth, e.g. passkey's still.

Here's hoping it's a robotic bird or lizard perched on your shoulder, talking into your ear.

Here's a crazy one...what if it's "nothing?" No devices, no chips, nada. Instead, everything around you will be smart enough to know you are there and present you relevant information. Android does have facial recognition baked in.

- I think intelligent personal assistants. Something like Siri but better and more useable.

Interesting, what do you actually use Siri for beyond messing with it to get a funny response?

Here's a list of some of my use cases; I'm sure I'll discover more with time. I keep my iPad passlocked with a strong pass, so Siri is sometimes really convenient. Also, I tend to keep the iPad next to my bed, because very often when I go to sleep I get all those ideas about what I need to do the next day.

1) "wake me up at ..."

2) "Remind me to...

3) "Do I have any new emails?"

4) "What do I have to do today?"

5) "What is the EST time?" (the starting time of some live broadcasts were given in EST and I'm in London)

6) "Set the timer for..." (when I study, or boil eggs), "Stop/resume the timer"

I actually use Siri at least a couple of times every day.

I always feel odd talking to my phone in private. Honestly, I'm a tad scared I'll start to like it. I only do it in public during debates over stupid facts!

E.g. How old was Benjamin Franklin when he died?

It's awesome :D

one of the reasons you carry it around is because you're in control of it. delegating temporary access to your personal data on a shared input device is an unsolved problem, just ask facebook.

My thought was that it was proximity based. If you traveled to far away from the screen/device the pairing would be broken and you'd be logged out. Much like how bluetooth mice/keyboards work today.

note that that's trust based

duly noted :)

Merge between health monitoring devices and mobile phones.

3d printing.

So you believe 3d printing will disrupt the smartphone?

I must have been very tired when I wrote this. It could, but I thought the question was more "what's the next big trend/killer app in smartphone tech"

Ha, no problem. I agree it's a breakthrough. You ever see the TedX talk on 3d printing architecture. Talk about totally disrupting the construction market :)

Here's a link: http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2012/08/12/this-giant-3d-pr...

Hope you've got some rest!

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