Marty Cooper, inventor of the first commercial mobile phone, holds the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x to the press during an interview with AP at Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, February 27, 2023. Posing. Day His show kicks off on Monday at his expansive Barcelona Conference Center. It is the world’s largest and most influential conference for the mobile technology industry. (AP Photo/Joao Mateu Para)
BARCELONA, SPAIN — The man credited with inventing the mobile phone 50 years ago had only one concern about a brick-sized device with a long antenna: Will it work?
These days Martin Cooper is just as concerned as everyone else about the impact his inventions have on society, from the loss of privacy to the risks of internet addiction to the rapid spread of harmful content, especially among children. doing.
“My most negative opinion is that we no longer have privacy because everything about us is recorded somewhere and accessible to someone with a strong desire to obtain it. The trade fair in Barcelona, where the Lifetime Award was awarded.
But the 94-year-old self-proclaimed dreamer also marvels at how far mobile phone design and functionality have come, and believes the technology’s heyday is still ahead in areas such as education and healthcare. .
“Between mobile phones and medical technology and the internet, we’re trying to beat the disease,” he said at MWC, or Mobile World Congress, on Monday.
Cooper, whose invention was inspired by Dick Tracy’s radio-controlled wristwatch, said he envisions a future in which mobile phones are charged by the human body.
It’s a long way from where he started.
Cooper made the first payphone from a handheld cell phone on the streets of New York City on April 3, 1973. His team at Motorola only used a prototype he started designing five months ago.
To beat the competition, Cooper used a Dyna-TAC prototype, which weighed 2.5 pounds and was 11 inches long, to call his AT&T-owned Bell Labs rival.
“The only thing I was worried about was, ‘Will this work?’ And it did,” he said.
The phone kicked off the mobile phone revolution, but looking back on that day, Cooper admits, “I didn’t know this was going to be a historic moment.”
He spent much of the next decade bringing commercial versions of the device to market, helping launch the wireless communications industry and, with it, revolutionizing the way we communicate, shop and learn about the world worldwide. .
Still, Cooper said he’s “not crazy” about the shape of modern smartphones, the blocks of plastic, metal and glass. We believe that sensors will probably “measure health all the time.”
Batteries could even replace human energy.
“You ingest food and create energy. Why not have this ear receiver implanted under your skin and powered by your body?” he imagined.
While Cooper is dreaming about the future, he is also mindful of the industry’s current challenges, especially those around privacy.
In Europe, with strict data privacy rules, regulators are concerned about apps and digital advertising that track user activity, allowing technology and other companies to build rich profiles of users.
“We’ll get there, but it won’t be easy,” says Cooper. “Now there are people who can justify measuring where you are, where you are calling, who you are calling, what you are accessing on the Internet.”
Smartphone use by children is another area where restrictions are needed, Cooper said. One of his ideas is to have “various internet curated for different audiences.”
Five-year-olds should be able to use the internet to learn, but “I don’t want them to have access to porn or anything they don’t understand,” he said.
Regarding his own use of the phone, Cooper says he checks e-mail and searches for information online to resolve disputes at the dinner table.
But “there’s a lot we haven’t learned yet,” he said. “I still don’t know what TikTok is.”