As smartphone and tablet makers desperately search for points of differentiation they will try to push the limits of performance on several fronts to extremes. The password pill and the display-cover display are two of the stranger extreme features on the way.
Extreme inter-connectivity is one of the more useful features that is appearing in new products. Phones will wirelessly link and sync with screens and sensors in the user's vicinity.
For example, there is already activity to equip phones with NFC in order to transfer data by tapping the phone to a set-top box or TV. More context-aware automatic wireless linking is coming too. In addition, giant e-commerce, software, and semiconductor companies are said to be creating Wi-Fi networks to compete with cellular services.
You can also expect extreme sensor support. On a more intimate (and bizarre) scale certain companies and universities are experimenting with tattoos to provide sensor and control capabilities for mobile devices. In the works are new kinds of proximity sensors, accelerometers, pressure sensors/altimeters, chemical sensors and more.
Biomedical sensors have lots of potential. For example, non-invasive glucose monitoring and vein mapping is being developed by a major cell phone maker now as a way to enhance fitness and health sensing. Vein mapping is already on PCs in Japan for user ID.
Another angle on human-to-machine interaction is the password pill presented by DARPA alums now working at a major cell phone maker. Once swallowed, the pill is powered up by electrolytes in the body to create a signal making one’s entire body into an authentication token. When the user touches the phone, computer, car, or whatever, the user is thus authenticated into that system.
Next: The display-cover display