If you just returned from a long trip to outer space, then you may not know there's a big election campaign under way in the US. Or just how heavily ``smart devices'' are involved.
Smartphones and tablets and the 3G and 4G telecommunications networks they utilise have shaped the campaign like never before in the US.
The previous US presidential election involved Facebook, Twitter and e-mail to an unprecedented degree. This one will do so at speeds that still seem a little terrifying today.
Take a simple example. Imagine you like a political candidate, cause or party and would like to help with a small donation _ US$10 say, about 300 baht. Pick up the phone, call a number and wait until a machine answers. Hang up, job done.
Your next phone bill will include the charge, already forwarded by your mobile provider.
Tasks like these could theoretically take place on the old 2G system, but 3G makes it happen securely. With the high-speed data communication, your mobile provider can ensure it's really you donating the money, and you have the horsepower to make sure you are communicating with the place you want your donation to go.
This is only one example of how 3G can change society. Just like your political donation, having a 3G device means online shopping is as safe as physically going to the store yourself. It means your email arrives in real time, just like on a PC in the office or at home.
Technologically, 3G is an evolution in communications. Socially, it is far more important.
Up to now, you could rig up a webcam and watch your pets, or your nanny and your precious child, in real time _ on your office computer, say. Now you can watch while you're at the salon. Now you can watch while riding the BTS.
When the World Cup 2014 begins, you won't have to rush to get to the bar or the party to see the match. You can watch, well, at the salon or while riding the BTS. 3G is the first mobile system with the horsepower to provide this. And when 4G arrives, well, you will be able to do everything on the move that you currently have to be seated at a powerful, fixed PC to do _ yes, everything.
4G is the next evolutionary step and the first system that _ like the internet _ has voice communications (telephone calls) as an afterthought. It is specifically designed to move trillions and trillions of bytes of data to and from every type of device known or imagined.
3G will do much of that.
A US poll of likely voters in the Nov 6 election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney found 35% had not watched television in at least a week.
So how do they know whom to vote for? Some 83% use their smartphones as their primary system of getting news, views and analysis _ or just straight election propaganda. Of people who use tablets in the US, 90% use them to consume news.
By next year, when Thailand has 3G _ oh, please, let that be true! _ most of the mobiles sold in the world will be smartphones.
In the real world in July and August, athletes captured the spotlight as always at the London Olympics. But the winners were companies, large and small, that used the Games to market, communicate and win new fans.
Procter & Gamble may be known as a soap company, but by using social networking on 3G networks, P&G cemented its ``people talking about us'' reputation. It provided videos of athletes talking about their mothers _ simple but pretty much impossible without smartphones and absolutely impossible without 3G to push the videos onto phones and tablets.
To a roomful of (old-people) sceptics, talking about video chats in high-definition is not just hype, it is ultrahype. In the real world, however, once you've chatted in HD, you don't want to go back. And 3G also makes it possible to have 10 people, say, in 10 locations participating in the chats _ with a whiteboard. There is almost no reason for company executives or prime ministers to spend time in airplanes and hotels to speak with people in foreign lands.
Much of the use of high-speed mobile phone and tablet communications remains unexplored. New ideas pop up daily as even an occasional look into the ``New Apps'' section of iStore or Google Play reveals.
But even if the technology and development suddenly froze today, 3G and smartphones have the potential to change the way you do business, bank, entertain yourself and, in short, conduct major parts of your life. Once 3G gets here, major changes will occur.
About the author
- Writer: Wanda Sloan