Nanotechnology: The future of mobile phones?

When can we expect to see nano phones hitting the market - and will the recession slow innovation down?

In the competitive market place of mobile phones, new technologies come out over night, change everything, and then become simply “ordinary” a week later.

The entire industry centres on a form of technological Darwinism, where only the strongest and most visible products survive. Despite this, is it possible to accurately make predictions about what the future holds for mobile phones?

In 2005, Nokia released its Communicator 888 concept phone. The device featured a liquid battery, was completely flexible and capable of morphing shape - showing what was potentially possible with nanotechnology.

But, has there been any progress since, and, if so, could nanotechnology become the next technology to revolutionise the mobile phone industry?

From dream to touchscreen

Not so long ago, touch screen phones were merely a pipe dream, now they account for 20 per cent of the entire mobile phone market – largely thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking iPhone, which illustrated profoundly the effect technology can have on an industry in a short period of time.

However, touch screen along with 3G capabilities, picture and video projectors, as well as social GPS are all small potatoes compared to what Nokia is supposedly cooking up.

The Finnish phone giant recently announced its plans to create a transformable mobile phone, by using nanotechnology to produce flexible electronic components that would allow the handset to morph between shapes, develop artificial intelligence, and even clean itself.

Known as Morph, the joint venture between Nokia and Cambridge University, seeks to build on the 888 concept, and eventually implement nanotechnology into mobile devices.

Dr. Bob Iannucci, chief technology officer (CTO), at Nokia said in a statement: "Nokia Research Centre is looking at ways to reinvent the form and function of mobile devices; the Morph concept shows what might be possible.”

What’s set for 2033?

Whether this technology is just an interesting theoretical discussion point, or an actual palpable technology remains to be seen - no one knows what the future holds, particularly in the world of technology. However, devices such as the iPhone and the hotly anticipated Palm Pre profoundly illustrate hwo the implementation of new technology can really shake-up a market, even during a recession.

Motorola, according to their spokesperson Amanda Kamin, is experimenting with ideas and concept for future mobile device. The 2033 concept takes a look 25 years into the future by considering how the world is changing, and how technology will develop around it.

The 2033 concept features an organic memory application, which would theoretically capture memories directly from your brain. Additionally, second sight, which augments your vision and is essentially a head mounted device, creates virtual reality applications, and infinite screen possibilities.

“While I can’t really comment on whether we’re doing anything towards incorporating nanotechnology into our research - I can say that we do pride ourselves on constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible,” said Kamin.

She added: “The 2033 concept is a clear example of our thinking out of the box.”

“We also developed touchscreen technology a few years before it became mainstream. Unfortunately, at the time it wasn’t viable within the current consumer market. But that serves as a good example of companies constantly trying things out before they make it into the commercial market,” Kamin added.