RIP! The phone is dead.

November 1st, 2016

A few weeks back there was an article where I was featured in Computer Sweden questioning whether or not the phone is the right medium for physical payments. There is no secret that Fidesmo supports the view that everything won’t be circling around the phone in the future, and I would like to take the opportunity to elaborate on that vision. Specifically, in the long term we believe that a wearable cloud of devices will take over the role of the mobile phone and that Fidesmo has an important role to fulfil in this evolution.

Let’s first take a look at the current trends brewing in the outskirts of the mobile eco system. Taking these trends into account, we think that a lot of the use cases exclusively tied to the mobile phone will be taken over by a combination of wearables – the wearable cloud. Right now, the phone is the perfect device, but in all sincerity it is a clunky device with a small screen and sub-par audio input functionality that we need to carry around. The main functionalities of the phone are 1) audio input and output, 2) visual input and output, and 3) the potential for contactless interaction with the environment. Added to this is connectivity, where services and systems are reached instantaneously.

Audio input and output we already see early trends of it being taken over by other devices such as the Apple Airpods and the family of devices for the home such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. The speaking partner for humans in these devices is being decoupled from the device itself, and goes under the names of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

The whole field of Augmented Reality (AR) is targeting the removal of the screen as the number one input method. Examples of early explorations into wearables targeting the visual input/output space are Google Glass and Spectacles from Snap (formerly known as the company Snapchat). I am very fascinated about the evolution path for the Spectacles – it is currently marketed as a toy, but will it stay like that? There are a lot of opportunities to expand the Spectacles into new fields once the platform is starting to become used. Another interesting field, complementing the AR evolution in glasses and contact lenses, is public screens that are potential interaction points with your personal cloud like Dropbox or Google Drive. This is very similar to the home devices mentioned above (Amazon Echo, Google Home) – the functionality that used to be tied to your mobile phone is moving out to the world around you. But then you need a way to seamlessly and securely tie yourself into these devices.

And lastly, we think that the point for secure interaction with your environment will be moved to the most convenient spot: the hand or the wrist. This is a spot where most adults already have a wearable called watch or bracelet. The introduction of contactless payment cards has been promoted by the payment industry as a faster way of payment, and by the transport ticketing world also with the benefit of less wear and tear for the reader infrastructure. But for the connected world, we believe that the potential to make the payment device shape independent is just as important if not more important. With the introduction of contactless payment the opportunity to put payment functionality into every watch is a reality.

So, it is not hard to envision a not too distant future where the the mobile phone has been dissolved into smaller, more invisible pieces of technology. Invisible doesn’t necessarily mean that the device is not seen, but rather that the technology is not seen. In many cases, the device will be seen, and really stand out, but as a fashion statement or as a token of group belonging. Non-tech companies will then make many, if not most, of these devices, and there will be many different manufacturers with small niches to fill. The tech part will be delivered by very thin services residing in the cloud and connecting to the different end points.

What is needed to be able to address the mish-mash of devices that we expect to form the future personal cloud? What are the requirements that we need to put on the technology that needs to be integrated into these wearables? Since most of the manufacturers are not technology companies, the technology must come almost pre-packaged. This means that the hardware (the silicon) must be pre-packaged also with the services (silicon is not enough) and that there must be standardized protocols for local interactions, so that wearables from different manufacturers can work together also on the service levels. Fidesmo aims to offer this ecosystem for contactless wearables, and we look forward to bringing more news about the building blocks of our platform soon.

Best regards, Mattias Eld, CEO, Fidesmo

___________________

Shortened version, in English, of the Computer Sweden article.

The mobile will be relegated to a modem that is in your pocket.

Watches and bracelets are much faster to use than mobiles to make payments, open doors, or ride the subway. The clock is already on the arm; it sits there all the time.

Today Fidesmo is selling cards with NFC and payment chip that can be programmed to work with a range of systems and companies. A next step is to, inter alia, to incorporate the chip in watchbands. We have cooperation with a number of watch brands and products that will be on the market before the summer.

People will continue to use their regular watches, but they’ll be a little smarter. Having a computer on the wrist it is far from what all want.

A chip with antenna sewn into the bracelet, which allows them to be integrated in the clock any time just changing the bracelet and you can then keep the fashion factor. You can pay, ride public transportation, open the hotel room and much more with your own watch.

“We believe in a wireless future,” chanted Apple’s design chief Jonathan Ives when the company showed off his iPhone 7 and the wireless headphones Airpods. It is a sign of the times that not even Apple wants to focus entirely on mobile.

Instead of having everything in the mobile phone, I think we will start to see a trend that the technology is dissolved into its components, and I actually think that Apple is one of those driving the trend.

With headphones who control Siri and the Apple Watch on your arm, your body starts getting connected, and you can interact with your mobile phones and other technology in the environment without picking up the phone.