Huawei made a major push into smartphone sector just six years ago, but already sits behind only industry stalwarts Apple and Samsung in terms of global sales. And by its 8th year in the business, the Chinese tech-and-telco behemoth expects to overtake Apple.
If you thought Huawei’s plan to be the number one in smartphones was ambitious, wait till you hear about their SuperPhone concept, that Huawei predicts will happen by 2020. According to Huawei, the smartphone-to-superphone evolution will take place within a 12-year cycle similar to the one that saw Motorola invent the first feature phone in 1995 and Apple end that cycle by inventing the first smartphone in 2007.
Speaking at the World Internet Conference in China recently, Huawei CEO Richard Yu delivered a futuristic keynote speech on artificial intelligence. “The smartphone will no longer be a passive device, meant only for communication between the phone and the user,” said Richard Yu, “Instead, the device will adapt to address the challenges of information explosion.”
Yu quite accurately sees the expansion of the digital world as an overwhelming and ultimately unmanageable trend.
The increasing digitization and convergence of information we are now witnessing is an overwhelming and ultimately unmanageable trend, but it is a problem that AI can solve.
According to Yu, this exponential data growth is becoming incomprehensible to humans, a problem in dire need of a solution. The solution, is a device Huawei calls a “Superphone”, which Yu said will become an indispensable tool for every person, or even a “double of the user”. The intelligence of the superphone will continue to evolve and develop itself into digital intelligence, capable of empowering us with interactions with the world. Through evolution and adaptation, the superphone will be more intelligent, enhancing and even transforming our perceptions, enabling humans to go further than ever before.
As Yu says, “a Superphone goes far beyond making calls and browsing the internet, it’s not only your personal, go-to assistant for daily tasks, but even a double of you. The Superphone will introduce a new information-management architecture.”
Huawei predicts that the new device will have abilities matching or exceeding those of a human’s five senses as well as the mind. The device’s vision, voice, hearing, taste and touch sensors, as well as various robotic technologies will be combined with device-based AI to be able to fully replicate the human ability to comprehend the physical world.
It’s a pretty compelling vision from one of the leading figures in the mobile industry. But this isn’t just navel-gazing futurecasting. Huawei said it is already working towards building the IoT by developing intelligence technologies such as big data analytics, software-defined networking, digital intelligence, and circumstantial intelligence platforms; connection technologies including IoT platforms and multi-device network standards; perception technologies as sensors, object recognition, and 3D scanning; and interactivity technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality.
It has also established partnerships with Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Volkswagen to work towards connected cars, with the former two companies now integrating Huawei-built 4G communication modules within their vehicles.
As you may recall, one of the main software selling points for the recently announced Huawei Mate 9 is its ability to learn over time and be “born fast, stay fast.” The Mate 9 does this through machine learning that picks up on your behaviors and preferences and predicts what you’re likely to do and when.
Using this information, the Mate 9 might, for example, prepare an app it thinks you’ll use next, periodically defragment your storage for faster access or manage system resources according to your usage habits. This may just be the early stages of an AI-driven Superphone, but the future, at least in Huawei’s eyes, is already knocking.