Saturday, 10 June, 2023

Beyond Calling and Texting: Endless Potential of Mobile Phones

Md. Farooque Hossain

Beyond Calling and Texting: Endless Potential of Mobile Phones
Md. Farooque Hossain

Mobile Phones have become omnipresent in our lives, and it is hard to imagine a day without them. From communication to entertainment, these handheld devices have transformed the way we interact with the world around us. Nonetheless, the impact of cellphones goes far beyond just making phone calls and sending text messages. This piece aims at exploring some of the amazing ways that cellphones are shaping our world. So buckle up and get ready to discover all-important uses and effects of this technology that we often take for granted.

Before going into details, let us look at the evaluation of this identical-looking rectangular slab gadget in brief. On April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper, the then lead researcher at a radio and electronics company called Motorola made a breakthrough call over his cellphone to the rival researcher Joel Engel, an American engineer who was pursuing an effort to invent the world's first handheld mobile phone, on his landline at his laboratory. Fifty years ago, Cooper’s triumphant call to Engel was claimed to be the first-ever handheld mobile phone call.

At that stage, the function of mobile phones was to stand in for landlines. Little else than voice communication was possible on those fledgling devices in the 1970s and 80s. Nevertheless, those humble beginnings led to giant strides in the following decades. In 2006, Nokia rolled out the Nokia N95 featuring an FM radio, a colour screen, stereo speakers and a video camera. In June of the following year, Apple demonstrated something called the iPhone, which integrated more bells and whistles. In fact, those early initiatives by Nokia and Apple were a breath of fresh air that set the multifunctional use of mobile phones in motion. Nowadays, mobile phones are surprisingly versatile. And they have significantly changed our lives.

Since the early days of smartphones, the integration of various features such as internet browsers, cameras, location services, torches, Bluetooth and accelerometers has become increasingly prevalent. This bundling of technologies has been on the rise ever since.

Modern smartphones have morphed into all-in-one devices, serving as banking hubs, personal assistants, and portable cinema and music players. They also integrate a range of sensors, including gyroscopes, barometers, thermometers, magnetometers, infra-red sensors and fingerprint sensors.

Over the past several years, mobile internet speed has improved by leaps and bounds, thanks to the rolling out of 5G technology. The combination of internet speed, the sheer computational power packed into phones and innovative software apps have paved the way for innovative ways of using these devices.

The GPS technology embedded in phones enables us to utilize them as navigation systems (sat-navs). By exploiting the vibration functions found in many contemporary smartphones, researchers have developed digital tactile maps that can be used by individuals with visual impairments to navigate their surroundings through touch.

 Mobile apps have opened a new vista for medics to learn about the complex functioning of the human body with a few pinches and swipes. On the other hand, it has gamified language learning so the learners can learn with pleasure.

These days, our interaction with the natural world is now often facilitated by the use of phones. While one can use apps such as Google Lens to identify plants they come upon, phone-based apps enable peasants to detect weeds, disease, pests and the signs of stress in their fields. Farmers are also utilizing phone-based tools that enable them to manage their irrigation and harvesting schedules more effectively by making good use of data sourced from local weather stations.

With digital infrastructure in place, owning a mobile phone has been transformative. It has brought together the service provider and service seeker, almost eliminating the intermediary altogether. Business cards may become a thing of the past as mobile phone numbers or WhatsApp numbers become a commonly used means of contact. The service provider, such as a plumber, an electrician, a repairperson, a cook, or a car mechanic, gives their mobile number to clients along with a fair bit of reliability. This practice has transformed the entire process of seeking labor of any kind.

 Mobile phones also have given leeway and safety to the people, especially women. For instance, without physically having to go anywhere, without worrying about what they are wearing, people can participate and access all kinds of conversations on mobile phones.

Cellphones have become a powerful tool for ordinary people, allowing them to report on events that may be overlooked or inaccessible to mainstream media. The ability to document and share evidence of human rights abuses instantly through mobile phones has empowered anyone to engage in citizen journalism. In many cases, this has led to the viral dissemination of such evidence, which puts pressure on the people in authority to swing into action. Moreover, with social media access at their fingertips through smartphones, ordinary citizens have turned into potential whistle-blowers who can capture and share information that may not be accessible to the law or traditional media.

Mobile phones have brought about a dynamic shift in political engagement among the masses. Nowadays, politics is more issue-based than ideology-based. People are increasingly inclined towards the larger human rights irrespective of party ideology. Facebook warriors often take to the platform over hot button issues, chip in with their opinions to drum up support for a common cause and even raise hell against anomalies or discriminations.

In today's world, the adage of not underestimating the power of the pen has evolved to encompass the potency of a single SMS, tweet, or meme.

However, the bedrock of all these advancements continues to be internet connectivity. By dint of reliable internet connections and affordable data packages, remote communities in a country can take part in the small- and medium-sized business activities using mobile phones.

Besides, with affordable talk-time packages, even basic cellphone users can stay in touch with employers or near ones they leave behind for the sake of livelihood.

Overall, everything that one can possibly need is now in the palm of our hand. According to futurists, the rapid advancement of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, biotechnology, quantum physics, supercomputers, and space exploration will greatly dwarf the innovations we have witnessed to date. The same rings true for mobile phones and its applications. And we cannot even imagine what the future of cellphone will be like.


The writer is an IT Professional,

who works for Thakral Information

Systems Pvt. Ltd, Dhaka.

Email: [email protected]