There is not one mobile future, but 7 billion futures, said Intel Fellow and anthropologist Dr. Genevieve Bell at the Intel Developer Forum today. Describing how the human being has always been, and will continue to be, the ultimate mobile platform, Bell illustrated how mobile technology has historically been used to extend our bodies and physical reach, augment our deficiencies and increase our capacity to get things done.
“Mobility technology has been transforming human society for centuries. Its future will be influenced not only by the shrinking size of computing technology due to Moore’s Law, but also by global population growth,” Bell said. “Our inspiration should come not only from the invention of new technology ingredients, but also from the needs and desires of human beings. It’s not one future we are shaping – it’s 7 billion futures, and counting.”
What people want in future mobility
Bell’s work as an anthropologist at Intel has uncovered important insights into people’s desires and frustrations regarding their relationship with technology. Relying on learnings from over 250,000 interviews conducted in 45 countries, she shared with the audience of technology industry developers four global themes reflecting what people want in future mobility: technology which is truly personal, which unburdens them from some of the more annoying hassles of use, which helps people stay in the moment, and which helps people to be their better selves.
A “smart clothing” demonstration from Berlin’s Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration illustrated how shrinking technology will one day disappear into the objects and spaces people interact with. A bicyclist sporting a jacket with a stretchable circuitry board woven into fabric demonstrated clothing could flash bright red lights when a rider is braking.
This single example represented each of the four themes of future mobile technology. The cyclist can enjoy the personal experience of riding and stay in the flow of the moment without worrying about controlling the jacket’s functionality. The jacket also augments his body making him more visible and allowing him to safely pursue riding at all hours of the day or night.