Folding phones and keystroke biometrics: Top mobile tech to look forward to

Folding phones and keystroke biometrics: Top mobile tech to look forward to [Image: whyframestudio via iStock]

The technology used in smartphones is already hugely different to what was introduced when the iPhone was launched and Samsung and other rivals began releasing their competing devices.

Hugely improved cameras, 4G and endless amounts of apps mean that our phones are never far from our reach. But what are these devices going to look like in the near future?

Here, we take a look at the top technology we can expect to see in our smartphones in the near future.

Folding phones

Folding smartphones are expected by many to debut soon. This technology has been talked about for what seems like years, but there has finally been progress in this area.

Unlike the flip phones we had years ago, these devices will be more capable of expanding into tablets.

This has been demonstrated by Lenovo, which has produced a working prototype of a bending phone, which could be wrapped around a wrist to produce an enlarged smartwatch, as well as a tablet that folds into a phone.

These devices are potentially a few years from being fully realised, but the fact there is now proof of the technology means they are not too far away.

Drop-resistant screens

As screens have increased in size, so has the risk of damaging them. This is now being considered by manufacturers, who are working on ways of bolstering the strength of screens.

LG is currently pioneering the improvements to smartphone screens, to help ease the dread users feel when their phones slip from their grasp. The screen on the company’s latest flagship, the G6, has been produced with curved corners, which provide a 45-degree angle between the horizontal and vertical edges of the screen.

Because most drops result in an impact to a phone’s corner, LG said that a larger surface area will help to distribute the force and cause less damage.

When a major manufacturer is taking the issue of broken screens seriously, it can be seen as a sign that others will follow.

In-screen fingerprint scanners

Another concept that has long been discussed is fingerprint scanners integrated into phone screens, which looks like it will be seeing an introduction in the near future.

With bezels shrinking ever smaller, there is little space left for fingerprint scanners. But users have become accustomed to using the technology to access their devices, so manufacturers are reluctant to do away with them. Most have relegated them to the backs of devices, like Samsung and Google, but others are getting more adventurous.

Vivo has demonstrated the integration of Qualcomm’s ultrasonic scanners at Mobile World Congress Shanghai in a working prototype. It proved that the idea can work and it might not be long before we start seeing widespread adoption of the technology.

Keystroke biometrics

With fingerprint scanners now present even on entry level devices and facial and iris recognition seeing more introductions, biometrics is a major technology for smartphone manufacturers.

They are now working on keystroke biometrics, which can analyse the way a user types, taps and touches their screen. These interactions are unique to a person, just as fingerprints are, so can provide a greater degree of security.

It can be used to allow access to banking apps and other sensitive data, for example, which is of real interest to businesses allowing employees to use their own phones as part of a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.

Augmented reality

With every smartphone generation comes faster processors and bigger batteries, which are both vital for the increased adoption of augmented reality (AR) apps.

These may have gained fame through video games, but they have more relevance to businesses than many may initially think.

For example, PwC has used AR to introduce job applicants to the company culture and working environment, offering office tours and an insight into meetings and mentoring sessions. The technology can also be used to conduct training sessions, which can make remote working easier.

As more smartphone manufacturers embrace AR, expect to see it arrive in more aspects of working life.