By Nestor E. Arellano

If there’s ever been an area in technology that been so fast changing, all encompassing and sexy to boot in recent years it must be mobile. 

The moment engineers found a way to un-tether the telephone, we have moved from Gordon Gecko’s brick-sized mobile phone, to tiny feature phones, to sleek touch screen smartphones and exciting media tablets in less than two decades. The third screenas futurist and author Chuck Martin call them, are taking over the television and computer screens as users’ source of information. The questions asked by many small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are: How to I hitch a ride on this fast moving mobile bandwagon? What aspect of mobile tech is appropriate for my business? What’s the next big thing?  Dr. Sara Diamond, president of the Ontario College of Arts & Design (OCAD). Diamond, an artist and designer and a researcher in the field of mobile media, recently outlined several ongoing developments that she says are game changers in the mobile tech space.

 

In a presentation entitled: entitled: Mobile Innovation: The Future Keeps Moving which she delivered at the recent MobiBiz forum on mobile technologyin Toronto, Diamond integration of these new technologies with mobile devices promises numerous business opportunities for organizations that can effectively employ them to serve their customers or audience. 

Here are six mobile tech developments to keep an eye on: 

1. Near field communication – This technology has been banging around for the last 10 years now, but analysts predict that 2011 will be the breakout year for near field communication (NFC). 

The promise of NFC is this – rather than pulling out your wallet or swiping a card to pay for a purchase, consumers can simply wave their phones at a payment terminal. Early this year, Google unveiled its mobile wallet service in the U.S. while Visa announced it will release its digital wallet service in Canada.. Diamond, of OCAD said numerous banks, Research in Motion, Nokia and Samsung are also conducting tests with the technology. 

2. Location-based services – Mobile devices and location based services were made for each other. The technology involves providing information or entertainment services through mobile devices using the network and device’s ability to hook up with geographical positioning systems (GPS)  

This technology which started getting attention last year can only grow bigger.  

This article shows How retailers are taking advantage of locationbased services. 

3. QR Codes – Ok, not a lot of people might know what QR (Quick Response) codes are for and there may be numerous security issuesaround them still. But these cryptic black cubes are beginning to show more and more on magazine ads, posters, packaging and even I.D. tags.  

When scanned by a QR-reading mobile device, the codes lead to a link or reveal information about a product, event or service. How cool would that be for a business of the QR code also contained links to an NFC button? 

4. Augmented reality – Augmented reality is a growing subculture in the design world. Whereas virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one, AR provides a live direct or indirect view of a physical or real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sound or graphics. 

Diamond said AR is being employed by some adventurous firms in the print industry. But imagine what it would be like if your iPhone or PlayBook could be turned into a virtual heads-up display. Something like that is being planned for the London Olympics in 2012. 

Related stories

Essential facts about augmented reality for mobile devices 

40 best mobile AR apps for the iPhone 

5. Tablet computing – “Tablets are relatively dumb,” said Diamond. Today they’re mostly used for email and Web browsing. But development of more industry-specific apps and data visualization tools such a business intelligence apps for the iPadwill soon change that.
10 key issues when deploying tablets for business
 

6. Touchscreen developments – Haptics technology,which involves the tactile feedback a user senses when applying pressure on a device, and development of new forms of touchscreens will result in the creation of more exciting mobile gadgets, according to Diamond. 

There are already numerous prototypes of flexible e-paper screens. Smartphones and tablets are only the beginning of a new breed of so-called organic light emitting diode (OLED) screensthat promise to be lighter, cheaper to produce and more energy efficient. 

Which of these technologies do you think would be useful for your business? Tell us what you think. 

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, read his blogs on ITBusiness.ca Blogs, email Nestor at narellano@itworldcanada.com and join the ITBusiness.ca Facebook Page.

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