Nokia GEM is a glimpse into the future

While the company's short-term future lies very much with the Nokia Lumia 800, the Nokia Research Center is looking at the next generation of smartphones with the Nokia GEM.

This is a concept phone, let's make that clear. But Nokia is pitching the device as a possible glimpse into the future, where the current metallic case is replaced by an all-over touch-screen, allowing it to change appearance from camera to phone or map according to the function selected by you, the user. It could even display advertising messages on the back of the phone, possibly to subsidise the price of the handset or to subisise the price of calls (if it was a phone company, for example).

Senior design manager Jarkko Saunamäki, one of the people behind the GEM, yesterday told Nokia Conversations: 'Now, when you launch an application like the camera, your mobile phone still looks like a mobile phone, but with GEM, when you launch the camera application, the whole phone looks like a camera.'

Jarkko says the most important uses, based on studies, are the interaction between all sides of the phone and changing appearance. On the mock-up, there are virtual buttons and logos all around the phone, just like your browser’s favorites bar, so everything you need is to hand. How you get around 'accidentally' hitting a button when the phone is in your pocket isn't clear, but as this is a prototype, we'll presume that will be sorted before a possible launch.

Not that a launch is anytime soon. This is very much a concept, designed to flag up the work of the Nokia Research Center. But it also serves a practical purpose too. While the GEM might not appear in the shops, elements of it almost certainly will be integrated into future phones. So take a good look, this is what your smartphone could look like in a couple of years time.

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