If every handset manufacturer would be judged by the level of the “wow” factor of its concept phones, Nokia would be the winner by far. Nokia's R&D department is one of the most proficient in the world when it comes to conceptualization.
However, as of lately, Nokia's designers raised the pace in an attempt to demonstrate that budgets are well spent in their case.
No, we're not talking about something like NASA trying to justify their ridiculous grants with petty 'discoveries', these guys with ideas from Nokia's labs are doing a great job.
We have seen around 10-12 concept phones since 2005, but no less than 4 in the last nine months, so that should tell us something.
If only part of these ideas had made it on the market with the Finnish giant's logo stamped on it, I guess we would have never seen a Nokia-Microsoft alliance.
Not that I think that was a wrong thing to do, but when you pretend to be one of the leaders driving the technological advancement in a certain field, you have to come up with innovations and apply them in the real world too.
In a previous article, we've seen some of the most interesting concept phones that Nokia decided to make public: Nokia 888 communicator, Nokia Aeon, Nokia Scentsory, Nokia Morph and Nokia E-Cu. The next five concept phones that we are going to discuss include some of the recent ideas.
Nokia Eco Sensor is an older concept phone that was unveiled by Nokia Research Center in 2007.
The phone is meant to give users an extra-sensorial experience, as well as an accurate status of their health and local environment.
While the information about the user's health is strictly confidential, any data related to the environment can be shared. In the end, the phone collects other users’ shared data, which ultimately increases people's global environmental awareness.
Nokia's designers envisioned this concept as a two parts device: a wearable sensor unit which can sense and analyze the user's environment, health, and local weather conditions, and a dedicated mobile phone.
Furthermore, the sensor unit can be worn on a wrist- or neck-strap, which is made from solar cells that provide power to the sensors.
Something that was extremely new for that time, the NFC (Near Field Communication) technology was supposed to be used to relay information by touch from the sensors to the phone or to other devices that support this kind of technology.
As 2007 was one of those “eco” years when everyone was trying to make peace with nature, Nokia's Eco Sensor concept phone was based on technologies that help save energy.
In addition, both the phone and the sensor unit should be compact to minimize material use, while the materials used in the design will be renewable and/or reclaimed.
Nokia ‘Remade’ concept is the only device that has actually been built by Nokia. Although it still remained a concept phone, Nokia 'Remade' was 'showcased' at the 2008 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
In fact, the device was used by Chief Executive, at the time, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo to emphasize the importance of recycling materials.
The entire 'Remade' device was made from recycled cans, while the phone's insides contained electrical components made from other recycled materials.
Although the phone didn't really introduce any futuristic piece of technology, the impact that it would have produced on the market could have been the push Nokia needed to turn more of its “wild” ideas into reality.
Even though the company's board of directors never had the intention to produce the 'Remade' on a larger scale, some of its lower ranked employees were really hoping for this to become reality, even if just for the looks. To quote a Nokia official that didn't want to reveal his identity: “I really do hope we make this.”
Nokia Kinetic is another one of the newer concept phones and can be easily mistaken for … Microsoft's Kinect.
The phone was designed by Jeremy-Innes Hopkins, who was tutored by Silas Grant, former senior designer at Nokia.
The idea of the project was to design a mobile phone for 2012 that can be fun to use. Nokia Kinetic coverts calls, texts, emails or alarms into kinetic movement.
The designer put an electromagnet in the base of the phone that allows a weight to be shifted, which causes the phone to stand up.
To dismiss a call or cancel an alarm, the user can simply give the phone a gentle tap, causing the phone to fall back down again and return to standby mode.
The main “stand up” feature of the phone has potential for video calling, without the need to hold the phone.
Even though the phone is not a product of Nokia's research lab, the concept phone was made in Nokia's spirit, as Hopkins suggests, “Kinetic builds on Nokia's previous playfulness and heritage of innovative mechanisms.”
The Nokia 82 Dragonfly is entirely a non-Nokia project, as the concept phone was designed by Reginald Hingston Shola, who was inspired by the dragonfly's body.
It was meant to give Nokia designers a certain 'freshness' of thinking, which lately expressed itself in models such as Nokia N8 and E7.
Obviously, Mr. Shola had a totally non-conformist approach when he thought he could make a phone that resembles a dragonfly's body, which can successfully be borrowed by Nokia's designers in the future.
The phone is supposed to carry all the traits of a standard mobile phone, such as: large screen, camera, numeric keypad, and navigation controls.
The last on the list is Nokia's Windows Phone concept that leaked just before the 2011 Mobile World Congress kicked in. In fact, the new CEO, Stephen Elop officially introduced it along with a few Symbian UI concepts.
There's been considerable ruckus around the leaked Nokia Windows Phone, which is exactly what Microsoft and Nokia wanted. Testing the market and having some feedback, either negative or positive, is good for business, especially if you're in the early stages.
The fact that the concept phone does not have anything 'otherworldly' design-wise indicates that the handset may indeed become one of the future WP7 smartphones manufactured by Nokia.
Add to that the fact that it received mostly positive feedback and this might become the first Nokia “concept” phone to be produced at a large scale.