Future Phones: Let Your Fingers Do the Talking

When it comes to mobile phones, it’s all about touch screens — this year. But what will they look like in four or five years? I recognize that in 25 years they’ll be implanted into our bodies, à la Ray Kurzweil’s thesis, but how will we we improve upon them in the meantime?

Since Apple has scored the touch crown, Samsung is going hands-free. It’s filed for a patent to let your fingers do the talking — simply wave them in some predetermined way to, for example, pull up a phone number, navigate the web or play music. The patent is focused on how the phone’s camera is used to translate the hand signals and then deliver those instructions to the device for execution. For an example of how this could go wrong, think back to the movement-controlled radios in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (the book, not the movie).

If your fingers can’t walk the talk, then it’s up to voice. Nuance Communications along with an undisclosed OEM are playing around with a button-less phone that will be entirely voice-controlled. I love using speech instead of my hands, but since the Nuance-powered voice recognition on my BlackBerry Pearl consistently offers to call my friend Trudy every time I ask it to call Om, I’m a little concerned about how that will work. C’mon Nuance, I can see confusing Om with Home, but Trudy? I don’t get it.

So touch, talk or sign, when it comes to mobile phones, it’ll be whatever pushes your buttons.

Image courtesy of cellpassion.com

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