How Will Elon Musk’s Tesla Pi Phone Get Us Closer to the “Ultimate Phone” of the Future?
We can always count on Elon Musk to deliver, if not a new branch of technology, at least game-changers in existing technology. He’s not that into incrementalism and minor iterative improvements.
In some ways, though, his latest venture, the Tesla Pi Phone, seems to be caught up in the methodical, predictable evolution of the smartphone but offers direct-to-satellite communications as a total game-changer for the industry. Even with that, I hope he continues his quest in this field but dreams even bigger moving forward.
Next Year’s Smartphone
From all indications, the Tesla Pi Phone, to be released late in 2022 or early next year, will push the envelope with some remarkable capabilities. These devices will have exceptional performance as well as improvements in the standard features we expect in our smartphones that increasingly compete for our time and attention.
Those features, according to rumors and industry observers, include 5G compatibility and exceptional refresh rates, picture resolution, pixel density, screen display, video recording, and more. In some of those areas, the Tesla Pi Phone will be considered industry-leading. In other ways, though, they will simply be “industry competing” or even lagging.
The true game-changer in the Tesla Pi Phone, though, and the kind of thing we would expect from Musk, is the device’s reported satellite connectivity with the Starlink constellation of satellites. This means no more dead zones in much of the world. Samsung has plans to launch 4,600 of its own satellites that would provide similar capability for its products, but once again Musk and Tesla are first.
Once again, people’s faith in Elon will be restored – he hasn’t slipped into the mundane, building only a marginally better mousetrap trap.
Smartphones of the future
But stepping back, it’s important to consider next year’s smartphones from the vantage point of imagining all they can be. Why should futurists be stuck within the confines of how to make the phone marginally better?
Where does the Tesla Pi Phone fit alongside that continuum? It represents a step and, granted, a big step – at least in that one regard: satellite connectivity. But there are plenty more game-changers to come in smartphone technology and utility.
In the future maybe we’ll still call them “smartphones” – we’ll follow that convention for now – but the device’s phone function will be buried even further within its overall functionality. Calling with our personal handheld devices is convenient and our phone numbers have become as much a permanent part of us as our social security numbers. Even so, the phone app isn’t the most frequently used utility on our smartphones by a long shot.
10 Features in Phones of the Future
What are the features that smartphone innovators like Musk and others must continue to shoot for in the future?
To be sure, smartphones will evolve into devices that support nearly every important facet of our lives, and every minute of our day. And they’ll do it more seamlessly and intuitively than ever. In a way, they’ll represent who we are and how we function. That means that they’ll no doubt have:
1. No ports
Wireless device integration and charging capabilities (see below) mean no more ports – and that means one less avenue for water damage.
2. Augmented reality integration
Future smartphone screens will be clear, enabling augmented reality functionality that will enhance communication and an application’s integration with the world beyond the phone.
3. Greater connectivity to sensors
We’ll increasingly rely on our phones to inform us about issues of concern in our bodies and nearby environments. They’ll proactively nag, warn, and make suggestions based on their constant interrogation of these sensors and other information sources.
4. Shape-shifting capability
Are you tired of your smartphone making a faded crease outline in the front pocket of your jeans? Are your smartphone dimensions wrong for fitting into a slim purse or the pocket of a backpack? Would you like to roll the phone into a cigar shape to stick behind your ear? Future smartphones will be simultaneously shapable, squishable, stretchable, and stackable with add-on peripheral devices.
5. Improved charging options
Direct solar charging of smartphones is a logical next step in keeping the devices powered up. Also, some of the same technologies being considered for charging electric vehicles, for example, embedded chargers in highways, will also be tapped for powering smartphones and other devices in our vehicles.
6. Touchless operation
Voice commands and even internal AI-informed impulses will pull up all the smartphone’s features and manage all of its applications. Boomers will no longer be scoffed at for their hunt-and-peck, one-finger smartphone keyboarding!
7. Holographic displays
Just when interpersonal video chatting becomes mainstream, we’ll quickly reach the next frontier – three-dimensional visual interaction with others using smartphones. Holographic images will be touchable, interactable, and storable as well.
8. Smart glasses, smart contacts
The glasses perched on our noses or contacts pressed onto our eyes will be wirelessly linked to wearable minicomputers, complete with speakers near the ears or even on attached earbuds. We’ll soon get the hang of giving voice commands, pointing with our eyeballs, and touching buttons or swiping on the stems of the glasses without a second thought as we navigate our social and professional life on the go.
9. Extended voice communications
Future smartphones will not only talk back and forth with us but enable us to speak directly to the devices they control.
10. Emergency alerts
Next-gen smartphones will be monitoring our health and fitness every second of every day. At times, they will know when we’re rested and functioning in peak form, but also know when we’re suboptimal, needing sleep, or past our limits. More importantly, they will have the ability to reach out for help when we no longer have the capacity to do so ourselves.
This gives some perspective to the justifiable enthusiasm around the Tesla PI Phone. Like you, I can’t wait to see and use it. But as a futurist, I know we have a long way to go and many more groundbreaking achievements to notch as we continue to put more and more of our lives literally into our own hands.