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Nokia says ‘the smartphone is dead in terms of driving new traffic’

Azfar Aslam, CTO Europe at Nokia

We caught up with Azfar Aslam, Nokia’s CTO for Europe who explained Nokia’s vision of the future, including human augmentation and new technologies that won’t be based on smartphones.

Any tech show like Mobile World Congress is perpetually neck locked towards the future – firms clamour to show off the latest iteration of their devices and are eager to explain product roadmaps that will purportedly revolutionise whatever sub-sector they operate in. It’s what we’re all here for, but its also nice to look a little further down the road every now and again and ask what exactly ever greater connectivity is all in service of in the long term, and how our lives will be changed.

Nokia has apparently been thinking about just that. Aslam told us the smartphone won’t be central to brand new technologies like the metaverse in the future, and we might all benefit from some ‘wet wear’ memory upgrades to our puny human brains before long.

“We created an assessment of where the world’s heading by 2030. As you can imagine there are literally dozens of trends that we looked at and we said, that’s a lot of information. So what are we really working towards? I think there are two things. One is that in the next 10 years, we will be significantly augmenting the humans with different types of devices. We use smartphones for everything today, as far as we’re concerned, the smartphone is dead in terms of driving new traffic and its use beyond what we do use it for. New devices will appear to augment us and they are going to be in the industrial setting and in the private setting.

The next 10-15 years is going to be about disaggregating this device [the smartphone] into different kinds of devices. In the industrial setting, you might be working on a digital twin of an industrial solution. In the personal setting, you might be using them in the early forms of the metaverse. We are very excited that things like meta technologies will in the enterprise space, bring a significant productivity benefit from the collaboration piece that’s missing today.”

Going beyond VR helmets, Nokia also expects us to be indulging in some ‘human augmentation’ to facilitate these brave new technological frontiers.

“Human augmentation is a big thing,” said Aslam. “Over the next ten years, of all the devices that we will see emerging not all of these will be pure electronic devices. We also talked about the wet wear – how do we connect devices to the human body biologically? And that that will be important for a number of reasons. If you look at things like the human memory – just like we have a USB stick to download our all our pictures and store them forever, wouldn’t it be nice to have something like that connected to our brains at some point? Now that’s not something that we’re doing but there’s a whole raft of biotech and other companies that are working on creating new devices. So cyborgs might just happen over the next ten years.”

So there you have it – if you are also out here with us at MWC and juggling four days of meetings, rest assured that before long you might be aided in some brain enhancing wet wear to help power you through future shows.

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