Some time ago I wrote a post about my prediction that people would use their smart cell phones to arrange ride sharing. That is happening now.


I also came across an application that allows you to use the Bluetooth feature of your phone to lock your computer when you (and your phone) walk away. I'm guessing you'll see more of this, maybe for your home and car.


I also heard about an application that lets you take a picture of any item with your iPhone and it finds an online shopping site that carries that exact item. Very cool. (Update: Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000291661)

These applications got me thinking what else is in the pipeline. I'll take a stab at a few predictions with full knowledge that you will provide links to people already working on these ideas.

WHATS-HIS-FACE: This application would let you discreetly take an iPhone photo of an acquaintance whose name you can't remember then it uses face recognition to search for the name online. Someday everyone will have a Facebook-like web page, so searching for faces will be feasible.

DOCTOR-IN-A-BOX: Someday you'll be able to take an iPhone picture of your suspicious moles, abrasions, fungus, or whatever and get an instant automated diagnosis and suggested treatment.

WHAT'S-IT-LIKE-THERE? Imagine wondering how long the line is to an event, or what a particular forest fire looks like, for example.  You send a query through your iPhone for anyone who is in that area, according to GPS tracking, and ask for a look. A kind stranger takes your query, sets his phone to stream video, and gives you the view from his perspective. You would have eyes anywhere there are people.

BRAIN-EXTENDER: Google and Wikipedia are already brain extenders. You can find almost any information you want and quickly. But imagine how much cooler it would be if your iPhone headset was continuously monitoring your conversations and answering your questions as they arise, or whispering suggestions in your ear. That application seems likely to me.

Do you have any more futuristic iPhone predictions?

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Jan 7, 2009
The whats-his-face app isn't that far away. A generic internet search for a person might have some privacy issues, but if you restrict it to looking at people in friends' online photo albums you should be able to avoid that.

Apple's new iPhoto program already uses face recognition software to sort through photos and decide who's in them, and it can publish the images with the name-tags directly to facebook. Using the assumption that an acquaintance is very likely a friend of a friend, what just needs to be done is pulling images with name-tags from friends' Facebook photo albums back into the iPhoto picture library, and then porting the software from a Mac to an iPhone.
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Jan 6, 2009
I just want to be able to phone my air conditioner when I'm coming home in the crazy humidity of summer, and turn it on so the house is an icebox when I walk in. Also... ever wonder whether you locked the door after you left, or accidentally left the gas on, and it bugs you all day? (Or longer. if you didn't lock the door or did leave the gas on, and you come home to either an empty house or a smouldering ruin) It'd be a lot easier if you could just phone your appliances and doors to check on them. Although maybe the door is a bad idea, since we'd rapidly wind up with spam-robbers, who send out messages to all the doors in town looking for the unlocked ones....
Jan 5, 2009
nice job with the cellphone comments, except for one. Your Brain Extender has me scared. I spent way too long with people whispering in my ear - you see, it's what happens when you host TV shows. And I think it'll be really bad if everyone has a little someone speaking in their ear..

It inspired me to write a blog commentary on it - you can find it here - http://louderback.com/2009/stay-out-of-my-ear/
Jan 1, 2009
Irritant Forwarding (forewarning): An inverse concept to the GPS tracking of one's friends (you know those "where you at?" commercials), this feature would keep tabs on those persons listed as "undesirables" by the user. The list could be used for coworkers, your ex-wife, parole officers, etc.. Then if one is approaching your location you would have ample time to pay the check, finish your drink, apologize to your date for hogging the conversation with discussions of the next Star Trek movie, and be inside a cab before the problem person even knew they had an opportunity to make your night any worse.
Dec 29, 2008
Hey Scott,

Some of your commentors are on to something. The Schlage net-centric house lock is a good example. With a little help from the cell phone companies, such things could be huge. If cell phone companies had small devices that could access cell phone nets for basic commands, all kinds of things could be controlled from your cell phone quite cheaply. You could start your car (roll the windows up or down), unlock your house, turn on your oven or microwave, etc. Current things like the Shlage lock require you to put the network in place and are too much overhead for a simple function. Currently you could do this with an entire cell phone device, but it would require it's own account with a cell phone company, which would be expensive. If the companies provided cheap devices which could be accessed by their net and only provided a small throughput of commands, the possibilities would be limitless. With your cell phone account you could drive any number of these devices for $5/month (each.)

Food ordering from text messages is done in China and works fairly well. I imagine companies will start moving this direction as more people get reliable, cheap access to html on their phones.
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Dec 28, 2008
Zuluwarrior suggested:
How about a built-in taze feature? For a small fee you could have a taze button that automatically tazes those at the other end who might be annoying or aggravating you. They'd sell a million of 'em.

For years I've been advocating that in addition to features like CALLER ID the phone company should provide a CALLER DELETE button which of course does exactly what it says . . . particularly for telemarketers and the like . . .

And as far as Scott's DOC-IN-A-BOX idea goes, I'd hate to think of some of the problems people would probably be mailing pictures of . . .

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Dec 26, 2008
In regards to Doctor-in-a-box:


It's not quite the same thing, but it approaches the same idea.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 24, 2008
BoscoH - a ribbon for 4.5 inches?
Dec 24, 2008
I'm impressed Scott. Design teams at my grad school (Carnegie Mellon) came up with a lot of these same ideas for our projects. Maybe we should hire you.

Mobile devices definitely are an interesting frontier that's only begun to be explored, especially given that a lot more people (especially in third world countries) own them than PCs.
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 23, 2008
my phone is too small to be of real use, like when you blog from yours, the result is a steaming pile.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 23, 2008
@KevinKunreuther: It just so happens that I know a little bit about iPhone application development. The application I discuss below doesn't have to become a privacy or exhibitionist concern. The application could be pre-loaded with size and girth data collected in a clinical environment by researchers. The application could measure the subject using reference points such as a small temporary tattoo of known size. It could then report its findings in the form of a vertical bar graph.

I also know a little bit about marketing. A good name for this app might be "Measure Up". At $1.99, it would sell a few hundred thousand copies. Not to be left out, iPhone users who either can't afford the $1.99 or don't know which of their maximum nine home screens to hide it on could simply use the iPhone itself as a measuring device. If a guy is shorter than the width of an iPhone, he should be embarrassed. If he's longer than the length, he gets a ribbon.
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Dec 23, 2008
how about is he/she single?
You could take a shot of the person's face, or enter their name, iphone could search all dating sites to see if they are single.
It would of course get rid of the old 'I'm waiting for my boy/girlfriend excuse" but it might also make approaching someone a lot easier.
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Dec 23, 2008
sadly the whats-his-face idea is illegal (at least here in the UK) as you cannot publish pictures of someone without their permission, even if its online. so unless the person signed up with a picture of themselves that then was used for comparisons you coulnt use it. its why camera phones make that annoying fake camera noise when you take a picture; the noise is to try and prevent you taking a picture without someones knowledge.

i suspect the whats-it-like-there would fall foul of copyright or something. or the movie industry would get it classified as piracy as someone could go in the cinema and use the app to let someone else watch a bad-quality shaky image of it without being near the cinema.

the problem is that the phone companies hop onto one idea and then it will fall flat on its face (i.e. 3G mobile video calls. which are barely used over here in the UK despite lots of investment). i suspect we will only get the cream of the mad ideas invented in the far east, such as micro payments where you buy a newspaper or a sandwich and its taken out of your phone credit so you dont have to carry a wallet.
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Dec 23, 2008
dang, sorry Aarwizz, didn't look back far enough in the comments. Should have known that would be the first thing mentioned.
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Dec 23, 2008
Real time language translation.
As you speak into the phone in english, your words are translated into any other language and an audio file of the translation is generated and played. There would have to be a bit of a lag for the translation to make sense, but the whole thing would just be a combination of technology that already exists.
Speech to text --> translate the text ---> text to speech.
The whole world will communicate in the voice of Microsoft Sam.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 23, 2008

I think you are bang on with this one - the combination of a blue tooth headset and a smart phone/GPS will change the way we operate more and more and soon it will be saving lives.

I'm guessing/hoping we will see an application where a blood glucose monitor that is permanently embedded in the every increasing number of diabetics in the world will send signals to your phone and then alert you with an autodial message when blood glucose levels get out of a predetermined range and then if they get into the "dangerous" range where a diabetic coma might be imminent alert a live operator to call you. This will be a huge help for diabetics and parents of diabetics who are currently monitoring BG levels several times a day. This could even be linked to an alarm system that would wake you at night if your levels drop.

We'll see services similar to the "On Star" system where people's cars are monitored and live operators stand by to help but instead you push a button on your phone/blue tooth and automatically get connected. This is for the folk with $ but less technical literacy (or who don't want to search google) just call your on-iPhone and help/recommendations/directions/call girls are on the way...

Soon you will be able to monitor the location of your under sixteen child at all times - and even have the system automatically alert you if they go beyond proscribed boundaries. I know kids can get around this by leaving the phone behind but soon that will become unthinkable ;)

Hackers will soon be able to break into the system and for a fee will monitor your/someone's every move - so you can find out just where your spouse is during those after work meetings...

On the practicalish side of things - your intelligent house could be set up to adjust, heating, lighting, music to your preference when you walk into a room - and automatically turn off all lights (except one or two for safety) when all members of a household leave the house. This could lead to some very cool "remote" wars where you have to determine what happens when two people are in a room!

You will be able to program a wish list into your phone that is constantly monitored by retailers - and when you walk past a store that is willing to sell you the item on your list for the amount you have specified your iphone will alert you. Kind of like combining ebay ahd the shoppers channel :)

News will be constantly streaming and you will be able to tap into live feeds at interesting locations (including anyplace CNN is reporting from, vacation locations, your child's daycare, your house, your office at any point during the day or night. Privacy will become a myth of days gone by....

While I can think of many iPhone/blue tooth applications that will become useful it scares me how "plugged" in we are already (it's unthinkable that we should have to wait to contact people - some family members get very annoyed if I am not constantly monitoring my cell phone and at work a 5 minute reply back to emails is expected even by outsiders). Pretty soon we won't even be able to separate our own thoughts from the data streaming at us from our iPhones and privacy will be a thing of the past.

Then again the whole economic system could just go to heck in a handbasket and the infrastructure required for all of this collapses and we'll see people using iPhones to try to get a fire started...

Welcome to the Brave New World.

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 23, 2008
Being an avid iPhone user, I just ask myself whether or not you couldn't get a ride back in the times when phones weren't smart... I think you could. Now. The only reason I do own an iPhone is to play bubble wrap with it. That is my killer app...
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Dec 23, 2008
Don't forget "How Am I Hung?". With this iPhone app, you can provide evidence to a new partner that you are indeed in the top 85% or so of men by length and/or girth.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 22, 2008
There's already a house lock that lets you control it from your phone. Check out link.schlage.com.
Dec 22, 2008
Instant Dilbert:
When at the office, you could use your iPhone to instantly connect with Scott Adams whenever an absurd office situation arises. Scott would then have current and up to date information for his daily comic.
Get the new Dilbert app!
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