Gartner identifies eight key mobile technologies

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Gartner identifies eight key mobile technologies

Analyst firm Gartner has published a report highlighting eight technologies which it predicts will have a major impact on the mobile industry over the next two years.

These range from new wireless standards, to user interfaces and new types of display.

Gartner vice president Nick Jones said in a statement that it is important to identify technologies that are likely to evolve quickly, as these will have an impact on the success of any mobile strategies now being planned.

The eight technologies Gartner has identified are Bluetooth 3.0, mobile user interfaces, location sensing, 802.11n, new displays, the mobile web, mobile broadband, and near-field communication (NFC).

Bluetooth 3.0, set to be ratified later this year, will enable the Bluetooth stack to use additional wireless interfaces such as Wi-Fi and Ultra-Wideband whenever speed is required to transfer large volumes of data.

It will also support the Bluetooth Low Energy interface, enabling the creation of new devices such as peripherals and sensors, and new applications such as health monitoring, according to Gartner.

Meanwhile, the 802.11n version of Wi-Fi will offer better coverage and higher speeds, providing performance comparable to 100Mbit/s Ethernet for the first time. Gartner warned, however, that this involves a "rip and replace" upgrade that is complex to configure, requires new access points, new client wireless interfaces, new backbone networks and a new Power over Ethernet standard.

Mobile broadband is already with us, the analyst said, with High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) providing up to 2Mb of bandwidth over a 3G connection.

HSPA provides adequate connectivity to replace Wi-Fi hotspots, according to Gartner, and many laptops are increasingly shipping with built-in cellular modems.

Staying with wireless technology, Gartner predicts that NFC may become significant, but mostly in emerging markets before territories such as Western Europe and the US.

NFC allows for applications such as mobile payments or exchanging information by touching devices.

Of the other technologies, Gartner believes that user interfaces will become an area of intense competition in the near future, as phone vendors vie to differentiate their handsets.

Better user interfaces will make the mobile web more accessible on small devices, and Gartner said this is now emerging as a low-cost way to deliver simple mobile applications to a range of devices.

Widgets - small web applets - are also starting to provide a way to stream simple feeds to handsets and small-screen devices.

New display technologies, such as active pixel, passive and pico projectors, are expected to hit the market during 2009 and 2010.

Passive displays are finding a use in devices such as electronic book readers, while pico projectors enable new mobile use cases, making it easy to do ad-hoc presentations.

Finally, Gartner predicted that location awareness will become a key feature of mobile phones, in applications such as mobile presence and social networking, but the company warned that exploiting this may create new privacy and security challenges.

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