Smartphone vendors look to emerging technology as market slows

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26 June 2017

With minimal growth in the global sales of smartphones to end users, smartphone vendors need to incorporate some of the latest technologies into their mobile devices for better uptake, according to Gartner.

The research firm mentioned that 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioural biometrics on smartphones are some of the technologies that will fuel its adoption in the near future.

Gartner research director, CK Lu, said with global sales of smartphones seeing only 5% growth in 2017, 5G-enabled phone sales would bring total sales of 5G-enabled phones to reach around 90 million units globally by 2021.

“We could see commercial products ready as early as 2019, but significant sales volumes are not likely to be realised until 2020. Gartner expects that initial 5G network deployments will focus on islands of deployments and mobile usage is not seen as the primary use case for 5G in the early years,” he said.

Lu also mentioned that AI applications and machine learning will improve device performance and standby time.

“AI has been the most discussed technology in last 12 months. But for now, AI applications are still quite limited. The early implementations are only virtual personal assistant (VPA) types of services from limited providers – the digital giants, such as Google, Amazon and Apple,” he said.

He outlined a few examples, saying that with many sensors, smartphones can better understand and learn user’s behaviour, such as when to use which app.

“The smartphone will be able to keep frequent-used apps running in the background for quick re-launch, or to shut-down those unused apps to save memory and battery.”

The use of computer vision on photo sorting is another AI application on smartphones that he sees will be of significant uptake.

“While this might be already available in some cloud based services, such as Google Photo, there is a need to enable this capability on the smartphone to address user’s privacy concerns,” he stated.

Security technology, combining machine learning, biometrics and user behaviour is also something he identified that smartphone vendors can better improve.

“[It] will reduce the need for passwords for digital identification and expose users to richer and new experiences with their smartphones. Beyond fingerprint, new methods of biometric authentication such as face, voice and iris recognition are being explored.

“Smartphone vendors will extend the use of biometric measurements to new ways of authentication, like the user’s swipe, keystroke and scroll patterns,” he said.

IDG News Service

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