AI, magic wands...get ready for the phone of the future

Just how "smart" will smartphones be in the future? What's coming next may very well change all of our lives and affect the world around us in ways we never could've imagined even just a year ago.

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Over the last few years, the biggest companies we've seen built on mobile are centered on two main trends.

The first is communication, whether that's text (WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook) or social (Instagram, Twitter).

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The second is what I've been calling "Uberfication," or the "magic wand for marketplaces." This is centered on the idea that the smartphone can match supply and demand in a matter of seconds, whether that's in the real world or online. The biggest company built from this trend is ride-sharing service Uber, but it is eating a number of other industries as well such as hospitality (Airbnb), groceries (Instacart), home goods (Boxed), delivery (Postmates), hotels (HotelTonight), Therapy (Talkspace), laundry and dry cleaning (Washio), dinner (Blue Apron, Plated, Kitchensurfing), home cleaning (Homejoy, Handy), office management (Managed by Q), shipping (Shyp), massages (Zeel) and miscellaneous tasks (TaskRabbit).

There are two other technologies that have started to mature to the point where they finally have the ability to be better utilized by start-ups and big companies in the coming months. These are the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence or "AI."

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First, more and more devices continue to come online, making the Internet of Things a key component in the next wave of smartphone value creation. Second, AI is getting better and better by the day, spearheaded by IBM's Watson technology and a number of efforts happening at Google.

Watson offers companies the ability to use natural language processing as a driver in "reading" large unstructured databases and even as a potential "agent" if Q&A is necessary. More and more companies will be created leveraging this technology in the coming months/years.

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When you combine these four trends, your smartphone really does become your magic wand. All of a sudden people have the ability not only to use communication to communicate and share with your friends and audience but for goods and services in the real world, as well as just about anything else you could imagine.

Take for example Magic, a company that made headlines last week for its text service that allows you to literally ask for just about anything you want (mostly delivery right now) and have it fulfilled by Magic. Using AI, companies like Magic can route you to the appropriate service provider with very little overhead cost.

We're going to see a lot of this technology proliferate in the future. We've only just begun to scratch the surface of what it's capable of. Imagine being able to text your refrigerator to see what you have in stock and if you should text the grocery store to have your groceries delivered or text your pharmacy to refill a prescription. We've already begun to see the early stages of this in traditional industry.

In health care for example, you have companies like Better. Better, which provides people with tools and a personal health assistant for all of your health needs using artificial intelligence for routine questions and real human nurses when necessary.

These are just a few examples of where this technology is going to go. Communication is also just the first medium here, but it does provide a powerful medium for these technologies. As Jonathan Libov from Union Square Ventures explains it: "messaging is the only interface in which the machine communicates with you much the same as the way you communicate with it."

X.AI is a good example of a company that is leveraging artificial intelligence to help democratize personal assistants and scheduling. To use X.AI you don't even have to text anyone or download an app, you just copy Amy (the virtual assistant) onto the email thread.

Eventually much of this can be automated to the point where I'll just receive a notification when I run out of milk or it's time to renew a prescription (this is where the opportunity for smartwatches is truly powerful).

The next version of mobile is actually not only the smartphone but also the world around us. As an investor, I'm really excited about how all of this will play out.

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At Metamorphic, we're very interested in cloud platforms for the Internet of Things that can tie all of these together. Right now it's a very disparate experience for developers to build applications that work with smartphones, smart watches and devices.

Using the example of the refrigerator, companies that can make this as seamless as me coming home to fresh milk in the fridge after I run out is very exciting. We're also very excited about the opportunity in health care, having the ability to match artificial intelligence and graphical user interfaces in order to save time and lives. This connective tissue is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Commentary by David Hirsch, co-founder and partner of Metamorphic Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm in New York City. Prior to MV, he spent 8 years at Google, where he was on the founding team that launched Google's advertising-monetization strategy. Follow him on Twitter @startupman.

Disclosure: David Hirsch, through Metamorphic Ventures, is an investor in Talkspace.