Thursday, February 28, 2008

Phone of the Future: A Wrist Twist

Recently, a friend had to get another cell phone. This is more traumatic than people realize because the beloved phone had every scrap of information loaded on it while it was disintegrating at warp speed with each new text message and phone call. Now, the new concept one has literally gone round the bend of the wrist. For those preferring a flat thin model, designers at Nokia accommodated that request too. From lugging phones the size of a brick to owning a chameleon personal phone worn like a watch one day, then bent to fit another accessory shape the next, while changing colors, is a great accomplishment in 15 years to the science of nanotechnology and miniaturization. Its even cooler when the phone, not even on the market yet, is on display at a Modern Art Museum, as part of a joint knowledge sharing venture.
Morph is a joint nanotechnology project between Nokia and Cambridge University currently on show at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

The MoMA display demonstrates how mobile devices of the future could change into radically different shapes, stretching and flexing at the users' whim - even changing colours.

"Developing the Morph concept with Nokia has provided us with a focus that is both artistically inspirational but, more importantly, sets the technology agenda for our joint nanoscience research that will stimulate our future work together," said nanotech expert Professor Mark Welland from the university.

The science is looking at revolutionary means to use microscopic synthetic hairs to solar power its cell phones and for the surfaces to clean up after themselves - germ resistance. Work product and details for environmental data gathering and personal health monitoring is in a non-public project named Eco-sensor. "Morph" is a phone geared to use technology for the masses into a self configured design that meets the users needs of the moment. There are challenges ahead, besides the line to get one that will dwarf attendance at an Obama rally or the 2007 campout to get the first iPhone, to integrate the technology into mass production with 0-defects, keep the price reasonable and accommodate next generations. Some of the technology will be available over the next seven years for other products and devices. Science fiction made real!

An army of homogenized MBA ants will accept the business challenge to put these ideas into production in a profitable way. But innovation is the province of everyone under the command of no one which is why good products go to die when analyzed to the nth degree. Read Clayton Christensen on the skills to See What's Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change.

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