Future generations will have devices “embedded under the skin of their ears,” Marty Cooper, widely credited as the father of the cellphone, told CNBC at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Such devices don’t need to be charged because “Your body is the perfect charger,” Cooper said. Cooper says he never imagined phones would become the portable computers they are today.
Martin Cooper received a lifetime achievement award at MWC this week to celebrate 50 years since he made the first phone call on Sixth Avenue.
BARCELONA, Spain – According to the inventor of the mobile phone, phones will one day become devices embedded in our skin, rather than the black rectangular slabs we’ve become accustomed to.
“The next generation will have the phone embedded under the skin of their ears,” Marty Cooper, who is credited with inventing the first phone in 1973, told CNBC in an interview at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.
Such devices don’t need to be charged because “your body is the perfect charger,” Cooper said. “When you eat, your body creates energy, right?”
“You eat food, your body generates energy. It takes a little bit of power to run this handset,” he added.
His vision hints at a possible future stage of humanity in which our bodies are equipped with powerful microchips and sensors.
For example, several startups are developing technologies that aim to combine computers with the human brain, like Elon Musk’s Neuralink.
Cooper said today’s smartphone has become too complex with numerous applications and a screen that doesn’t fit the curvature of the human face.
“Whenever I’m on the phone and don’t have a receiver, I have to hold this flat piece of fabric against my hunched head [and] Hold my arm up in an awkward position,” he said.
The smartphone market has stagnated in recent years and there is a feeling in the industry that manufacturers are struggling to come up with new innovative designs.
The proliferation of phones today has created a whole host of problems, from social media addiction to privacy invasions.
“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, hinting that the tech’s best days in areas like education and healthcare could still be ahead.
“I have an abiding faith in humanity,” Cooper said. “I look at history and look at all the advances that we’ve made with technology, and kind of people figured it out.”
“People are better off now. And they’re living longer. They’re wealthier, they’re healthier than ever. We have ups and downs. But in general, humanity is progressing.”
Cooper received a lifetime achievement award at MWC this week to celebrate 50 years since he made the first phone call on Sixth Avenue. Using the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, referenced in the popular film Wall Street, he called his main competitor at AT&T, Joel S. Engel.
Cooper says he never imagined phones would become the portable computers 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 crossed our minds.”
However, he added: “We knew it was important to socialize. And we told a joke that one day when you are born you will be assigned a phone number. And if you didn’t answer the phone, you were dead.”
“So we just knew that one day everyone would have a cell phone. And it almost happened.”
According to Cooper, the world now has more cell phone subscriptions than people, while two-thirds of the world’s population own cell phones. “The phone becomes an extension of the person,” he said.
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