In our last blog entry we looked at how travel apps for tablets have changed since the iPad was launched in 2010. Now it’s time to go ‘into the future Marty’ where we’ll explore how it’s the tablets themselves that are changing and we look at what’s coming next in tablet tech.
Over the past four years, lower prices and different sized devices have delivered huge gains for tablet manufacturers, created massive shifts in market share and ever growing increases in adoption in developing markets, but what’s next? How will our favourite tech companies convince the world to buy still yet more of these devices? Well, looking at recent news it seems like it’ll be a case of ‘It’s a tablet Jim, but not as we know it’.
At Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona earlier this year, Fujitsu showed us where they think tablet tech is heading – haptic sensory tablets.
Haptic technology has been around for years, in its smallest form it can be the vibration you feel when typing on a virtual keyboard, to make you think and feel that it’s a real physical keyboard. It’s early days still, but Fujitisu are taking it to the next level. At MWC they showcased crocodile skin you could feel, a guitar with strings that felt like you were actually plucking it and a pair of CD decks that gave you the sensation of spinning and scratching, all using ultrasonic vibrations on the tablet.
And of course it wouldn’t really count as a true technology, especially a tablet technology if Apple hadn’t filed a patent for it at some point and that’s exactly what they’ve done, numerous times in fact. As far back as 2009 the Cupertino giant was looking at haptic feedback for tablets. They filed another in 2010 but the real excitement and buzz came in 2012 (around the time of the iPad 2) when the rumour mill swirled around the news that they were looking to buy the Finnish company Senseg. But so far, so nothing… although news flash, these pesky haptic rumours have bubbled up again recently, this time around the new iPhone. We won’t hold our breath though because if history has taught us anything, it’s that Apple is never first with new technology.
However it’s not just changes in how tablets feel to the touch that point to the future, new form factors are also on the horizon.
BEND ME, SHAPE ME
If there is one company other than Apple you’d expect to be looking into the future of tablet tech right now it’s Samsung and true to form they are. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in 2013, Samsung secretly showcased flexible AMOLED displays. AMOLED displays are made from a new plastic substrate, which allow surfaces to be extremely thin and flexible. Concept videos and screenshots have been flying around ever since.
But, it’s the much mooted Galaxy Note (landing in 2016) that may well be the first device we see using actually this technology.
And for once, it’s not only the two big boys playing in this space. Earlier this year Sony announced ‘Digital Paper’, a super thin giant (13inch) eReader, and at MWC 2014 LG showed off the LG Flex, a 6 inch behemoth of a smartphone that is actually curved.
And of course, never forget the big G, Google have recently announced that ‘Project Tango’ will not just be another Nexus Q ‘cough’, this far out 3D mapping vision will actually be in our tablet hungry hands next year.
Flexible displays, super thin devices, surfaces you can actually ‘feel’ on a screen and tablets mapping 3D spaces in real time – all this may seem like future gazing for now but there’s a virtuous circle at play here, as the tech changes the tablets, the tablets change the traveller and his or her expectations. What is future gazing today might be well be core functionality next year.
Don’t believe me? Who would have thought 4 years ago that we’d be carrying these massive ‘big phones’ onto planes to look at the ground flying by underneath us.
That would be a crazy idea wouldn’t it?
To learn more about tablets and their impact on travel, please watch our webinar: ‘Have Tablet, Will Travel: The New Face of Tablet Travel Apps and Emerging Tablet Strategies for Airlines’