FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mobile 2.0

Those who follow the development of mobile technology have already seen its impact, especially in the developing world. Says Oliver Starr of Mobhappy, "The poorer a region is - both technologically and economically, the greater the impact mobile phones have on society... In a place where the fastest means of transportation is on foot most of the time, the ability to transmit or receive a message from someone miles away is life altering."

To that end, Starr envisions the evolution of Mobile 2.0, which is distinct from the Web 2.0 discussions that have been going on for the past year:

Mobile 2.0 is not device dependent. There is no measuring stick of functionality that is a determinant as to whether or not a mobile phone is or is not a Mobile 2.0 device. All functioning phones today are Mobile 2.0. It isn’t what the phone does, so much as what is being done with the phone that has lead us to Mobile 2.0. This definition has the advantage of extensibility - a developing country experiences Mobile 2.0 by virtue of the changing socio economic status of those that own phones. In Japan or Korea Mobile 2.0 can be seen in the development of entirely new forms of entertainment oriented content for display on mobile devices and in the US we can see the birth of Mobile 2.0 in the roll-out of presence enabled services and phone-based navigational services.

Starr includes pervasive computing elements in his vision of Mobile 2.0, such as "smart dust" integrated into clothing or elsewhere in the environment, keeping us connected and informed at all times. "I’d seriously consider having the ability to instantaneously communicate with people on the other side of the globe physically implanted in my body just as I would love IR visual capabilities or super-acute hearing," he writes.

Naturally, such a scenario is rife with unintended consequences. A Mobile 2.0 environment built out to its logical conclusion (Mobile 3.0, 4.0, 5.0...) would effectively be able to track everyone and everything on a global scale. Who would do the tracking, and why? Who could hack it, and what would happen if it broke down? The Mobile X.0 endgame would be a purely transparent society; we would all interact on very different levels than we do now, as privacy as we now know it would case to exist.

According to his post, Oliver Starr will continue to write about Mobile 2.0 in the coming days.