Battery power limits handset progression, says Unity boss

Mobile tech won’t surpass home consoles – Helgason

Extraordinary advances in smartphone technologies will continue, but not to the point where handsets outpace home consoles, the CEO of Unity Technologies has said.

David Helgason told Develop that, while the technology gap is shrinking, “you can always build a more powerful desktop system because there’s so much more freedom with regards to power supply”.

Leading smartphones are beginning to match the memory capacities of Sony and Microsoft’s home systems – though there are still advances to be made in terms of CPU and GPU specs.

But limits to battery power is what is truly restricting smartphones and handhelds, Helgason said.

“With mobiles you have to balance everything with the progress of battery life,” he added.

“What’s interesting is that mobile phone hardware cycles are as short as 18 months. It’s very quick, and there’s enormous investment in it because it’s so competitive, so the hardware sophistication is advancing at a crazy rate.

“But I think by the time mobiles reach current generation console quality, a new set of consoles will be released, which will raise the bar again by a lot more.”

Next-generation handhelds, particularly Sony’s PS Vita, boast significant advances in processor speed and GPU memory. Yet this comes at a cost, with Sony’s upcoming handheld, much like Nintendo’s 3DS, likely to drain a full battery within four hours of play.

“By definition a console can always be more powerful,” Helgason said.

“Thing is, graphics quality matters less and less as the industry edges closer to ultimate realism targets. Mobile will obviously go past the current generation, but it will take a long time to surpass next generation systems.”

Elsewhere in his interview with Develop, Helgason discusses HTML5 and Windows Phone 7, and flatly rejects any idea that the firm would be willing to be acquired.

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