Van der Klein’s Vision for the Future of Mobile Tech

Raimo van der Klein

Today I’m doing my best to share the gist of a presentation on SlideShare by Raimo van der Klein—who, among other things, helped create the pioneering augmented reality app Layar. Van der Klein identifies four waves of innovation in mobile technology, beginning with the first GSM networks of the early 1990s. His vision of the future goes as far as 2024, and it’s an interesting one.

1992-2000 Connecting People

In 1992 the first GSM networks rolled out in Europe. This was also the year that the first SMS was sent. The Finnish company Nokia doubled-down on telecommunications and built a business empire that no one could touch. Their slogan was “connecting people” and that’s exactly what they did, with a formidable logistics system that brought handsets to billions.

A representative phone of this era is the Nokia 3210. I would’ve guessed the 5110, as the North American version, the 5190, was my first-ever GSM handset from Fido. But I’ll cede my ignorance on this, as Europe’s GSM networks were way ahead of anything we had in Canada back then.

Indeed, van der Klein cites the GSM network as the representative software for this era.

2000-2008 The Mobile Internet

At the dawn of the 21st century the Internet became mobile. This sounds about right. Japan’s i-mode was launched in 1999, and yours truly tried his first-ever WAP phone in early 2001.

Carriers built broadband networks with revenues from ringtones and SMS traffic. First came CSD (think dial-up for mobiles), then GPRS, then 3G.

This era culminated with the iPhone—I’d say specifically the second-gen iPhone 3G, the one that was released worldwide on the same summer day in 2008. Likewise, Internet data peaked with the arrival of the App Store.

2008-2016 Context

The iPhone 3G was also notable for its on-board GPS radio. According to van der Klein this ushered in the age of smartphones with sensors.

Thanks to GPS we now have location-based services like Foursquare, Layar and UBER. But there is also the context in which we interact with our devices; thus, the rise of wearable computing also has a rightful place here.

The representative device of this era is still up for grabs—it could be Google Glass, Android Wear, Project Tango or something else entirely. Van der Klein thinks that the king of hardware in 2016 will be whomever has the ability to bring sensors to billions. As for software, the winner will be the best system for the delivery of real-time content. Google Now, perhaps?

2016-2024 AI

In 2016 we will begin to connect everything from the previous eras—people, the Internet and context.

There will be many experiments in UX (user experience). Current examples cited include the earpiece in the movie Her, the robots of Boston Dynamics and Nest.

So who will be the next king of mobile tech? Apple dethroned Nokia in 2008; who will dethrone Google by 2024?

Van der Klein sees a potential blind spot for Google: The company doesn’t like hardware, and prefers to capture the market through software. But remember, the king of hardware in 2016 will be the company that has the distribution capabilities to bring sensors to billions. Van der Klein sees this hardware as wearable, with simple AI onboard. What other company is a pioneer in wearable tech?

Yup, you guessed it: Samsung. If Samsung can own AI technology by 2016 they could potentially unseat Google as the king of mobile and move the next wave of innovation to Asia.

Again, the original presentation can be viewed on SlideShare, and is well worth your time if you’re at all interested in the future of mobile technology.