Why do I need a cellphone?

If computing is ubiquitous, then why do I need a cellphone?

This isn’t a new idea, really. I’ve come across it before in SF novels. Its worth gaming out what the world will look like though. I say “will”, because this scenario looks inevitable.

If the entire environment around us is filled with networked computing devices, then instead of a phone number, we could just set a policy for who can contact us, and under what circumstances.

Our location can be determined by cameras, or by the smart clothing that we wear.

The sound of the call – or head’s up visuals for that matter – could be carefully directed to our ears and eyes by our environment. The technology already exists.

Our voice could likewise be picked up and broadcast. And our hand movements captured and translated into actions.

Worst-case scenario – say a crowded mall – we could wear a BlueTooth style device that connects with the surrounding pervasive computing environment.

No more dedicated pocket or belt device required. No recharging. No cellphone muggings. No need for phone contracts. No “where did I leave my phone again?”. Or “oops, I dropped my phone in a puddle”.

Such a conversation wouldn’t be any less private than current cellphone conversations in a public place.

The cellphone market is currently engaged in making more powerful phones, with better screens, and longer battery life.

What use are any of these features in the world just described? And what happens to the companies manufacturing such devices?

Editorial note: The Mars Colony Administrator’s Handbook will continue shortly. Two more parts remain, and I’m in the process of editing both.