From Starship to Smartphone

For years we have been presented with visions of the future through the eyes of Star Trek, Blade Runner, and Back to the Future. We have watched in awe as the Star ship Enterprise scans a planet for lifeforms and for information. Yet today, with the small piece of metal and glass we keep in our pockets, we can do much the same.

No longer do we need to carry about maps, contact diaries, or even own a calendar. With the development and mass production of the smart phone, all of these are becoming obsolete. The adoption of these devices has done more than just changed the size of our backpacks, they have embedded themselves into our lives and altered the way we interact.

The ability to immediate find and share your location has created new industries that thrive on location based services. Review based services are utilising location to highlight restaurants in the vicinity, each catered to the specific user, creating curated content on a per user basis (de Souza e Silva & Frith 2014). Services such as Uber and Lyft depend on their users own smartphones for their service, shedding all other traditional methods of hailing down a taxi or calling a booking number.

The adoption of these new technologies has altered the way we act as a society. Travelling to a new city no longer requires intense study and planning of your routes. Now, with the use of your smartphone, you can have a full map of the city, access to its services, even knowledge of the local language, as augmented reality allows you to hold up your phone to a sign and be given translations in real time (Farman 2014).

Star Trek made predictions of the future 400 years away. Gene Roddenberry predicted an interplanetary spaceship would be needed to scan a planet for information. Instead, we can do it with a smartphone, four centuries earlier.


De Souza e Silva, A Frith, J 2014, ‘Re-Narrating the City Through the Presentation of Location’, in The Mobile Story, Routledge, New York, pp. 34–50.

Farman, J 2014, ‘Site-Specificity, Pervasive Computing, and the Reading Interface’, [Intro] in The Mobile Story, Routledge, New York, pp. 3–16.

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