AH Tech Talk: Cranially-Implanted Smartphones Aren't Far Off

When smartphones hit their stride, people were amazed. A computer in your pocket, for all intents and purposes; it was unheard of at the time. Fast forward to today and VR is finally starting to catch on. Visions of new technology pass through minds, onto paper and onto the internet at a staggering rate, so complete revolutions in product thinking are, believe it or not, statistically inevitable. That said, how about your next smartphone having no display, no speakers and no touch panel or keyboard? Specifically, the idea is to implant the device in your head and have it interact directly with your brain.

In a survey by Davos World Econmonics Forum, some of the foremost experts and industry leaders out there were asked about up and coming technologies. Known as "tipping points", these technologies were all expected to come by 2025 and change human life entirely in much the same way smartphones have. Among these "tipping points", implantable technology was named. There are already things like pacemakers, cochlear implants and other medical tech, so why not a smartphone? The potential impact is huge. A device that could keep you connected at all times and never needed charging or other care. It's quite scary, yes, but also utterly revolutionary.

Imagine, if you will, the year is 2025 and you're waiting for a train. Boredom sets in. Rather than reaching into your pocket, though, you think about the latest mobile game craze, perhaps a new version of Candy Crush or Angry Birds, and there's suddenly a square in your field of vision displaying the game. You might move your hands to play or you might simply think of the input you want to give; in either case, it happens in front of you whether your head is pointed at a wall, the rails or another passenger in waiting. Suddenly, your game is cut short. Your mother's face occupies your vision. You think, "Answer", and you hear her voice as though she's there with you. Perhaps the two of you hear each other's thoughts. When the train arrives, you bid your mother farewell and give a mental cue to hang up the call.

This may sound like utter science fiction, but it seems to be the trajectory of things. All that really stands between this reality and ours, in fact, is cost and brain research. Naturally, these are progressing nicely. Of course, there are other caveats. A smart device implanted in the brain could lead to increased escapism and distraction, which is saying a lot in today's smartphone-crazed society. Additionally, security and privacy would be huge factors. At the very least, the backdoor debate would need to be settled before this could happen. These implantable smartphones would need to be hack-proof. If the device could read your thoughts, who's to say it couldn't write thoughts as well? A hacker could very well cause a hacked individual, through their head-implanted smartphone, to do something incredibly stupid or disastrous. These are all kinks that would need to be worked out before an implantable smartphone, at least a cranial one, could see the light of day.

Other tech in a similar vein that's on the rise is virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as wearables. Arguably coming close to the immersion made possible by a head-implanted device, VR is beginning to come into its own. Consider the fact that the recent HTC Vive is being used for a theme park ride. Wearables also offer complete connectivity at all times. VR equipment capable of augmented reality, that is, imposing the virtual world over the real one, could be the next wave of personal devices. Wearables may also see that honor, though VR would certainly remain dominant for entertainment and other immersive experiences if that were the case. In-cranium smartphones, on the other hand, are still science fiction at this point, but according to experts, they're closer at hand than you may think.

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