Next generation will have devices in their skin

Martin Cooper received a lifetime achievement award at MWC this week to mark 50 years since he made the first phone call on Sixth Avenue.


BARCELONA, Spain — One day, phones will become devices built into our skin, rather than the black rectangular slabs we’ve grown accustomed to, according to the inventor of the cellphone.

“The next generation will have the phone embedded under the skin of their ears,” Marty Cooper, credited with inventing the first telephone in 1973told CNBC in an interview at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.

Such devices won’t need to be charged, because “your body is the perfect charger,” Cooper said. “When you eat food, your body creates energy, doesn’t it? »

“You ingest food, your body creates energy. It takes a tiny bit of energy to make this earpiece work,” he added.

His vision hints at a possible future stage of humanity where our bodies are augmented with powerful chips and sensors.

Several startups are developing technologies that seek to combine computers with the human brain, for example, like by Elon Musk Neuralink.

Cooper said today’s smartphone has become too complex with many apps and a screen that doesn’t fit the curvature of the human face.

“Every time I make a phone call and I don’t have a headset, I have to take this flat piece of cloth against my hunched head. [and] hold my arm in an awkward position,” he said.

The smartphone market has stagnated in recent yearsand there’s a feeling in the industry that manufacturers are struggling to come up with innovative new designs.

The prevalence of phones today has resulted in a litany of issues, from social media addiction to privacy breaches.

“Privacy is a very serious issue, addiction is an issue,” Cooper said, acknowledging the evils of his creation.

But he struck an optimistic tone for the future, suggesting the technology’s best days could still lie ahead in areas such as education and healthcare.

“I have an unwavering faith in humanity,” Cooper said. “I look at history and look at all the advancements we’ve had with technology, and somehow people have figured it out.”

“People are better now. And they live longer. They are richer, they are healthier than they have ever been before. We have ups and downs. But in general, humanity is progressing .”

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Cooper received a lifetime achievement award at MWC this week to mark 50 years since he made the first phone call on Sixth Avenue. Using the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, referenced in the popular movie “Wall Street”, he called his main competitor at AT&TJoel S. Engel.

Cooper says he never could have imagined phones would become the laptops they are today.

“50 years ago was a really primitive time,” he said. “There was no internet, there were no large-scale integrated circuits, there were no digital cameras.”

“The idea that one day your phone would become a camera and an encyclopedia never occurred to us.”

However, he added: “We knew connection was important. And we told a joke, that one day when you were born you would be given a phone number. And if you didn’t answer the phone, you were dead. .”

“So we knew that one day everyone would have a cell phone. And it almost happened.”

There are now more mobile phone subscriptions worldwide than there are people, according to Cooper, while two-thirds of the world’s population have personal mobile phones. “The phone becomes an extension of the person,” he said.

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