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Smartphones might become smarter than you

13 November 2013, 09:35 Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - As smartphone technology develops, it might soon be quite smart - smarter even than you, a research firm says.

The smart devices will soon be able to predict user actions and even interpret those actions to plan the future, Gartner predicted.

"Smartphones are becoming smarter, and will be smarter than you by 2017," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

"If there is heavy traffic, it will wake you up early for a meeting with your boss, or simply send an apology if it is a meeting with your colleague. The smartphone will gather contextual information from its calendar, its sensors, the user's location and personal data," she added.

The growth of location based services and applications could result in a smartphone that could become a virtual learning assistant that is invaluable to the user.


Already in markets like Japan where an ageing population is proving to be a challenge, the use of smart technologies is being expanded into health care to, for example, track a patient with dementia so that care givers can take appropriate measures.

The increasing sophistication of smartphone technology has grown to where all the features commonly found on the devices could be exploited to deliver a more comprehensive user experience.

Apps have emerged as a key driver for the acceleration of smartphone technology and several apps can already be used to monitor the location children, conduct shopping or banking, and booking flights and cars.

"Technology has added features such as cameras, locations and sensors, while apps have connected those to an array of functions that, for the most part, add and improve our day to day life from a social, knowledge, entertainment and productivity point of view," said Milanesi.

She said that apps will continue to improve, particularly as the technology of the internet of everything creates a world where even so-called "dumb" devices are connected to the internet to become "smart".

"We assume that apps will acquire knowledge over time and get better with improved predictions of what users need and want, with data collection and response happening in real-time."

Menial tasks

It may for example, be possible to have the coffee machine automatically order your favourite blend when supplies run low, or have your car book it service when it is due.

The key for this development will be the data cloud that users generate and will only be possible if privacy can be guaranteed. It will also depend on whether people are willing to share their personal information across multiple apps.

Gartner said that users are likely to give up personal data if they get app functionality as a result.

"Consumers tend to give up a lot for convenience. The benefit of certain apps might instigate behaviours that were unthinkable yesterday," the company said.

Milanesi said that data in the internet cloud will be used to improve lives and free up people from menial tasks.

"Over the next five years, the data that is available about us, our likes and dislikes, our environment and relationships will be used by our devices to grow their relevance and ultimately improve our life."

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