Mobile is only an infant yet

Mobile is only an infant yet

My contribution to ICAD'S Campaign Magazine 


It’s been a long time since the last edition of ICAD’s Campaign Magazine was published. It got me thinking about the types of things people may have written back then, like I am now, when asked what will happen with digital technology in ‘the future’. 

Watch an episode of the Jetsons from that era and you’ll see some of the thinking of the time, okay we don’t have flying cars now that fold up into a suitcase but they did have video calls in the show which isn’t a million miles away from FaceTime or Skype.

The great thing about topics such as ‘the future’ is that no one can argue with you about it, as it hasn’t happened yet one opinion is probably as valid as the next. If, in 2040, you fancy pulling me up on thoughts contained here, send me a hologram message then and I’ll get back to you.

There are lots of areas you could go into with this topic (media, security, robotics) but I wanted to narrow the focus to talk about the mini super computers we all carry around in our pockets. Currently we refer to these shiny objects as ‘smartphone’ – but they’re nowhere near as smart as they’re about to become.

These connected devices have revolutionised many facets of our society, for good and bad, and in my opinion we still haven’t seen 1/10th of their full potential or what they will do to our everyday lives in the future.


To start my thoughts on the topic I wanted to remind you of the progress we have made since 1990, which was an important year for digital. This was the year the first episode of the Simpsons aired on TV, Italia 90 gripped a nation whilst Tim Berners-Lee was busy creating the future with his proposal for a thing called the world wide web, that’s www to most people these days - whiskey with water to others.

This proposal for the world wide web started something that exploded into many extraordinary things each of which we took for granted in turn. From dial up connections on our PC’s (remember the sound effects) to mobile WAP on our beautifully clunky NOKIA’s (with their wonderful week long battery charges) to 3G, 4G and beyond, on our smartphones – all seamless developments embraced by all of us.

The next progression of mobile is already here in its infancy. That is mobile working as part of a connected system, which helps your make day to day tasks supposedly easier. By the time 2040 arrives all this seamless tech will be so common and adopted by the masses it will be unusual to even think of mobile as a device you used to hold in your hand as it will be much more integrated into your life than it already is.



In recent years, in order to get our heads around mobile, we have focused on meaningless ideas and software for needs or problems that didn’t exist, created apps for marketing campaigns which were easily forgotten about or even worse created all sorts of mobile banners eating up your monthly data plan without you even knowing it.

The real hotspot for unlocking mobile lies in helping people with things that really matter to them, things that make a real difference to their lives. This will be achieved by converging mobile technology with everyday tangible items or services run via the cloud, which feeds back data we can use in real time to make the products and services better for people.

The kind of ideas that are in their infancy and that will transform mobile are currently happening in the connected hardware space at the moment. Connected hardware is often referred to as the Internet of Things or IoT.

The next wave of mobile will see the convergence of surface computing, projection, gesture control and touch interfaces. There are companies already out there trying to explore new ideas, some of whom I have listed below (there are many more startups and industries that will be totally changed by mobile – these are just to get you started).

Think how mobile will transform:


Our cars and driving experience

Take a look at Leap Motion and their work on future interfaces, Navdy who are developing HUD’s (head up displays) to make cars more intelligent and useful to the driver, or if you want to see something slick try using a BMWi3 or Tesla to get a sense of how mobile is helping to change how you control these cars.


We’ve all seen the robot themed movies (iRobot, Ex Machina) but these things will be making an impact, they may seem daft now but they will evolve quickly.

Watch iRobot to get a sense of how the everyday items will be evolving with robotics. Smart Things is another company showing how it can connect your home seamlessly.


From pajamas & monitors that help parents monitor their baby’s heart rate & sleep patterns while they sleep to location trackers such as Trax Family to services and tools which help kids tackle social issues such as bullying – its all about to change and school education is next.


OUR Health

You may have seen news reports recently where patients swallow a digitally connected pill that helps doctors diagnose medical issues without invasive procedures.

Companies like such as Proteus for example are combining wearables with mobile and the cloud to change how you manage medical conditions. A couple of quick examples but the speed of change in this sector is immense and just watch out for connected vision and hearing services such as Phonak which are quickly making grounds to change everyday lives.

Our Security

Without changing the tone of this article I will stay clear of weaponry examples however just think of your personal data that is now available.

Services like Last Pass are still trying to fix the issue of having so many logins to manage for mobile banking to Facebook.

The next wave of companies will try to answer how to protect your location, your driving data, your health tracking and your fingerprint data, most of which are already seamlessly integrated into your mobile.

You’ll need new ways to protect yourself from all sorts of new threats, the bank transfer email requests from that ‘far away Prince’ will seem like simple scams in comparison as to what is to come.


With personal data comes management of our finances. Ireland and other countries are awash with investment in FinTech at the moment as there is plenty of scope for disruption of the banking, insurance & finance sectors.

Personally I thought Bill Guard was a very good idea of something practically trying to help you manage your services.

However as this is a 3rd party app away from your bank it becomes yet another thing to manage.

So why can’t your bank just get smarter and start providing more useful services like this, well this is starting to change to, take a look at Number 26.


Mobile will be one of the key tools which will force all agencies and all brands to become digital, if you want to be relevant and connect with people of tomorrow you better be mobile savvy today in order to evolve and keep pace with what is about to happen. Things are about to get more complex again before they become simple and seamless.

If you want to connect your creative idea with audiences of tomorrow then you need to start thinking about how mobile can be more than just a gesture or part of a media inventory but something that delivers something that matters to people.

If you want to see a glimpse of the next wave of future ideas then it would be worth checking out CES Hardware Battlefield when it returns at the CES event in January 2016. Everything from cars to cookers will be there and you can make up your own mind if mobile is about to unlock a whole new wave of possibilities.

I think it most definitely will.


This article was originally published in ICAD's Campaign Magazine