by benjamin bannister

The Future of the iPhone X: From the Realistic to the Absurd

Let’s imagine the iPhone in the far future. Image: benjamin bannister

As a user and fan of the iPhone, I filmed a spoof video for an imaginary product called The iPhone X3.

Let’s discuss the ideas presented in it, and explore the likelihood we’ll get these technologies in the future.

Solar Charging

Wireless Qi charging is finally here on the newest iPhones! This would otherwise be impressive, had I not been jealous of my friend’s wireless charging Microsoft Lumia phone — half a decade ago.

“Solar Charging” Image: benjamin bannister

But what about the future of charging? What other power sources could we rely on? Something Apple, something technology forward.

What about solar energy? There are currently solar solutions like portable batteries, solar roofs, and solar panels.

The main hurdle behind solar is it’s not as efficient as we would like it to be. Harnessing the sun’s energy still has a ways to go. Also, the sun can’t be relied on 100% of the time, so if solar charging is implemented, it would have to be supplemental to whatever the main source of power is.

Technology forecast: Until solar capturing efficiency is significantly increased along with miniaturizing it in a small form factor, we have a long wait for this.

Wireless Transactions

In the video, a male character enters the New York City Subway by scanning his phone using NFC (near field communication) technology. He then proceeds to order movie tickets (to a fictional future “The First Annual Hunger Games” prequel/sequel), which Siri purchases automatically based on his buying habits.

“Wireless Transactions” Image: benjamin bannister

Surprisingly, the NYC Subway has yet to catch on to wireless transportation entry, while cities like London have had it for over a decade (using RFID).

NFC is already is here with Apple Pay with more and more vendors supporting it for purchases and transactions.

Technology forecast: People are already using wireless transactions. It’s just a matter of implementation.

Augmented Navigation

Apple Maps and Google Maps have increasingly gotten better over time. We’ve seen streamlined graphics, to satellite imagery, to knowing your location and orientation, to 3D mapping entire cities, to Street View, to choosing methods of transportation, to being able to choose departure and arrival times.

Imagine your phone showing a holographic projection in front of you that overlays your surroundings along with clear directions to guide you to your destination.

“Augmented Navigation” Image: benjamin bannister

We’ve seen this special effect in Hollywood movies, but never in real life. It can’t exist for the same reason lightsabers can’t exist: because you can’t just stop light in midair; it has to project onto some type of surface.

Technology forecast: Improbable.

Security Word

I had my phone stolen one time from a very bold pickpocket. It was in a crowded subway. I had a dark jacket on, with my iPhone in a bright orange case sticking out like one big target saying “steal me.” The subway came to a an abrupt stop and a guy pushed up against me a little too much. It was only when I went to reach for my phone later did I realize it was gone, and the guy that bumped into me was gone.

“Security Word” Image: benjamin bannister

It was at this moment I thought of a “Security Word” as a deterrence mechanism. Imagine saying a word or phrase matched to your voice which activates an electric shock to whoever has it. Imagine! “I know who the killer is! Let’s ring this phone and find out!”

This will never happen mainly because it can be used in ways that would stir up a whole bunch of lawsuits.

Technology forecast: We could make a miniature taser, but should we put it into a phone?

Projector

In the video, we see a woman giving a presentation. We initially assume the projector feature is projecting the PowerPoint presentation behind her, but the twist is: she’s the projection.

“Projector” Image: benjamin bannister

This is an extension of the Augmented Navigation idea. Think of it as 3D Facetime. Again, while it’s nice to imagine, you still need to project light onto a surface.

Take something as cool as these Halloween projection effects. They all look awesome, but require a surface like a wall or a sheer curtain to be seen.

There are mini projector these days but they lack resolution and brightness.

Technology forecast: Advances in projection technology could make this a reality some day. The only caveat is you need a surface to project your images on.

Adaptive LiquidMetal Shell

I was just having fun with this feature. Past news report that Apple bought an exclusive license to Liquidmetal technology. My guess is they did this so no one else would have it while testing the waters with what could be done with it. So far, only a SIM ejector pin has been made of it.

“Adaptive LiquidMetal Shell” Image: benjamin bannister

In the video, the LiquidMetal borders the entire phone and its color can be personalized in iOS based on your preference. This was purely fiction when I made it up, something I wanted, but not something I could see happening. The whole point of this segment was to allow customization.

How could this technically happen if it could? Maybe a screen that wraps around the phone, which lights up in a color of your choosing when there is a notification. Maybe color e-ink technology could be wrapped around the phone that would maintain its color while the main screen is off.

Technology forecast: Possible, in the very distant future.

Meow To Unlock©

Apple likes to sell you on emotions. Does it make you smile? Does it delight?Live Photos (Harry Potter photos) are one such feature. I don’t know about you, but when I take the right Live Photo, I treasure it in my phone.

With the iPhone X, we have Animojis, animated emojis that can replicate our facial features onto an emoji, along with an audio recording of what we want to say. It seems… amusing, and the jury will be out until people have the iPhone X in their hands.

What else could Apple have done to make us smile? I decided everyone likes kittens, 98% of people do (I just made that statistic up). Instead of numbers to unlock our phones, why not have pictures of cute kittens? I’ll tell you now: all my friends want this feature.

“Meow to Unlock”© Image: benjamin bannister

But wait! We now have facial unlocking. However, Apple still requires a 4–6 digit code from time to time as a backup to authenticate who you are.

Could they add an optional feature like picture unlock? Or a Meowcode© to unlock? It would only require a software update.

Technology forecast: It’s highly unlikely Apple would implement this after they’ve stuck with numbers and now facial recognition to unlock your phone. But, if any other companies wants to license this idea from me…

That concludes my insights. Sometimes it takes visualizing an idea on screen to inspire someone to make it a reality.

Let me know your thoughts on the technology, and The iPhone X3 video (give it a thumbs up on YouTube if you enjoyed it).

BONUS CONTENT: Behind-the-Scenes Storyboards

Here are scans of the original storyboards used for filming. As with most things in life, most of the work is in the preparation and planning stages, while the easiest part is the execution.

“Solar Charging” Image: benjamin bannister
“Wireless Transactions” Image: benjamin bannister
“Augmented Navigation” Image: benjamin bannister
“Projector” Image: benjamin bannister
“Security Word” Image: benjamin bannister
“Adaptive LiquidMetal Shell” Image: benjamin bannister
“Meow to Unlock” Image: benjamin bannister
The iPhone X3 Image: benjamin bannister
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