Smarthome devices like Nest and lighting technology like Lifx let homeowners easily control the temperature and lighting of their homes through their smartphones. But did you know you can also use your smartphone to manage the security of your home? Services like Scout integrate wireless motion sensors to catch intruders, and the August smart lock lets you lock and unlock your door remotely and see who's at the front door through a wireless webcam.
We are seeing the same types of remote-control technology extend beyond smarthomes. Car-focused apps like the Viper SmartStart feature keyless entry as well as remote start, which is useful for cooling down or warming up your vehicle (depending on the season) before getting on the road. Businesses are also smartening up to what's possible through mobile devices.Texas-based HID Global, a security firm, recently retooled how an office building in London handles security, replacing standard RFID security cards in favor of NFC-enabled smartphones, which make it easier to track and grant access to thousands of employees.
Leave your ID at home
Perhaps the most useful feature of tomorrow's smartphones will be their ability to serve as a stand-in for your identification, allowing you to consolidate all your authentication documents like your passport or driver's licence. De La Rue, a British company best known for printing British money and producing passports, is working on a digital passport prototype that lets travelers identify themselves using only their smartphones. The implementation of digital passports could significantly cut down on wait times at airports and improve passenger tracking. Plus, travelers will fill out any visa or customs paperwork conveniently on their phones.
Smartphone authentication tools may even redefine how we go to the polls. Companies like Votem have developed mobile voting platforms that would give users the opportunity to register and vote in elections just by using their smartphones, which would be a boon to voters who live overseas like expats and the military. Such apps would seriously boost the convenience of voting, and in turn may increase voter turnout. While it'll likely to take some time for Votem and the like to supplement or replace official ballots, there are other smartphone applications that are streamlining civic duty for the 21st-century citizen. Take HelloVote, a chatbot that helped Facebook Messenger users register to vote in this year's presidential elections.
Your health in your pocket
Thanks to the evolution of smartphone biometrics and the introduction of medical smartphone attachments, users can now measure their own vital signs like pulse and blood pressure without having to schedule an appointment with a doctor. The data captured on the smartphone is instantly analyzed and sent off to a doctor, who will be able to diagnose patients and prescribe them drugs through telemedicine services like VSee. Smartphones are also useful when visiting doctors offline, with services like HealthVault, which compile a patient's medical records and current prescriptions from a number of different sources, giving physicians a complete overview of their patient's medical background without having to sift through a mountain of paperwork.
As impressive as this new wave of DIY diagnostic tools is, it represents just the tip of the iceberg. New developments in artificial intelligence have allowed supercomputers like IBM's Watson and Google's DeepMind to diagnose illnesses like eye disease and leukemia, and the hope is that one day patients can get a direct diagnosis using the medical data generated by their smartphone's biometrics. And if you think interacting with a virtual doctor sounds strange, consider this: According to research from University of Southern California, patients are more likely to disclose their inner thoughts and emotions to a computer avatar than to an actual person, which is crucial in formulating an accurate diagnosis. So, yeah, in addition to organizing your life, some day soon your smartphone may well save it, too.
Advances in mobile technology are paving the way for people to vote online, travel without a passport and diagnose themselves at home. Now that you know how your smartphone will unlock your everyday life, consider the $399 Honor 8 that features a highly praised wide-angle camera as your smartphone of choice for to explore this exciting new world.