PHONES WILL SHRINK TO SIZE OF A PEN, CONFERENCE TOLD

THE TORONTO STAR, BUSINESS SECTION, THURSDAY, JULY 14, 1994
BY ROBERT BREHL, BUSINESS REPORTER

In 15 years, phones will look and feel like today’s pens, a tech nology conference has been told.

That bold prediction came yes terday from George Fierheller, vice-chairman of Rogers Commu nications Inc. and the first presi dent of Cantel cellular phones.

Wireless communication is the wave of the future because it’s cheaper and faster to build cellu lar networks than land-line sys tems, which is a boon for devel oping countries such as Russia, Fierheller told a forum at the Comdex computer show at the Metro Convention Centre.

Also, 40 per cent of workers will be in jobs requiring them to be mobile, he said. But how the heck will they shrink cellular phones any more? Some today weigh less than a Big Mac and fit into a Smarties pack age.

The keypad will be eliminated by making it voice-activated and batteries will shrink as they be come more energy efficient, Fier heller said.

The “pen phone” would work this way: the caller speaks into the phone, dictates a number to call and a computer dials it.

A second “pen” would be used as a power source backup, he said. “You’ll carry them (in your pocket) like a pen and pencil set.”

No predictions on how many people would be disconnected in the middle of calls by chewing on their phones.

He also predicted long distance phone calls will be a flat rate since the new technology will make it cost no more to transmit “around the world than around the corner.”

Technology will also provide simultaneous translation, he pre dicted, adding the Japanese now have a system which uses a com puter to change the Japanese lan guage into English.

Cheaper and more accessible communication worldwide brought by the “pen phone” will add to global peace because peo ple from different countries and cultures will get to know each other better, Fierheller said. “The pen phone will be mighti er than the sword,” he said.