Archives for February 2003

February 28, 2003

Walkie Talkie Cell phones

At the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes in February, Nokia, Ericsson and Siemens announced that they are working on a standard for adding walkie-talkie features in mobile phones.

Instead of dialling a number, users will be able to highlight a name on their cell phone screen and press a button to talk to them instantly. No ringing, no waiting.

Similar to Instant Messaging, «Push To Talk» technology will allow users to create a liste of friends (who must first give their OK), enabling them to see who has their mobile turned on. cf The Guardian.

Walkie Talkie features already exist in Nextel phones, and through their Direct Connect service, Nextel phone users get right through.

Both Verizon and Sprint PCS are racing to see who can add "push-to-talk" to their phones first. cf News.com

emily | 5:57 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 27, 2003

Publish photos from your cell phone

CamBlog (Camera Weblog) is a service that enables you to publish photos from your cell phone, mobile device or from your hard disk and store them online. Simply sign up online to receive back a specific email address where to mail your pictures. Your photos will then automatically be posted in mintues, in the specific file you created for them. You can check out "Photo Test", where I posted a photo of an appliance from my kitchen.

Word of caution if you are using your cell phone, when signing up, you must identify your e-mail adress. If you don't know what it is, send yourself an email (from your cell phone to your computer) to find out.

For more on picture phones, check out PicturePhoning.com

emily | 2:53 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 26, 2003

London traffic tax

On February 17, London initiated a new plan to ease traffic congestion which cripples the city, "bringing into operation the largest congestion charging scheme the world has ever seen", according to the Mayor.

A tax of £5 ($8.00) is now being asked of motorists who drive into the city every day under the surveillance of 800 cameras in and around an eight-square-mile, which monitors their licence plates.

Payment can be made through a call center, online or at one of the 1,500 retail outlets, as well as by SMS.

Transport for London, publishes a weekly summary of traffic improvement with this new scheme. For more info, read The Guardian.

emily | 12:00 AM | permalink | comment (0)

February 25, 2003

Text-messaging penetration is up 50% from 2002

A recent study conducted by Upoc and Frank N. Magid and Associates found that 140 million Americans, or 59%, ages 12 and up own mobile phones.

Some 35% of U.S. mobile phone owners 12 and older were found to have a wireless Internet feature on their handsets.

Games, restaurant and movie listings, sports scores and weather alerts are the most popular features.

Among the study's other findings:

— 27 million Americans already use the text-messaging feature on their cell phones, up from 18 million in 2002.

— Text-messaging penetration is up 50% from 2002.

— 19% of U.S. mobile phone owners age 12 and older use text-messaging features, up 13% from November 2002. And 72% of this group sends and receives text messages

— Regardless of age, most text messaging is personal, with 73% sending messages to friends, 70% to family members and only 26% to business contacts.

— 28% of U.S. mobile phone owners age 12 and older would consider dropping their land lines and switching to exclusively using their mobile phones. From Adage

emily | 6:20 PM | permalink | comment (0)

Robbers identified by a picture message

Two thieves have been jailed in Italy after being identified from a mobile phone text picture. Daniel Puiu, 20, and 21-year-old Dorin Oborcianu are believed to be the world's first criminals to be convicted using the new technology.

According to articles in both Ananova and the BBC, the two men were snapped by a tobacconist who grew suspicious of them as they hung around outside his shop.

He sent a text message with the picture to police. After checking their files, officers realised the two were wanted for other robberies, so they were arrested.

More on picture phones on PicturePhoning

emily | 3:04 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 24, 2003

«Slanguage»

According to an article in The Guardian, British operators who have been tracking mobile phone use of picture messaging since its launch last year, have identified the emergence of a new style of communication it calls "slanguage", a new form of slang based on a combination of visual, aural and emotional prompts.

emily | 3:16 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 23, 2003

Young Americans catch on to texting

PC Magazine reports on a recent study published by Telephia/Harris Interactive. According to the study, 35 percent of cell-phone owners in the U.S. aged 18 to 24 have used Short Message Service (SMS). The survey was based on 40,000 U.S. mobile subscribers and nonsubscribers aged 18 to 24.

emily | 3:24 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 22, 2003

Maryland University students caught cheating by SMS

Twelve students were accused of cheating during an exam at the University of Maryland by receiving the answers by SMS from friends outside the classroom. They were reading off the answer keys posted on the Internet by a professor once the exam began.

According to an article in the WSJ, the students unknowingly fell into a trap set up by faculty members, who suspected exam-takers were cheating. The business-school professors posted a fake answer key, then checked the exams to see which matched the bogus answers.

This is the first story of it's kind reported in America, but other similar stories have been reported around the world. It's a growing concern in Finland and Japan — where one teacher turned the tables on the student and had them pass an exam using their cell phones. And in April 2001, an Indian schoolboy from Kolkata was caught sending SMS from the bathroom during a biology exam, text messaging questions on one phone, and receiving answers on the other. (cf Ananova)

emily | 3:33 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 21, 2003

«Moblogging»

With the huge success of blogging, emerges a new trend, to blog on the go. Called mobile blogging or «moblogging», it's possible thanks to new software allowing bloggers to post information (images, video and audio) from their cell phones, instead of being tied down to their PCs.

An article in Wired describes the different tools available and how they're used : Manywhere Moblogger, Wapblog, FoneBlog, Kablog.

emily | 6:54 PM | permalink | comment (0)

Police launch text-messaging service for deaf

West Midlands Police of Breat Britain launched a mobile phone text-messaging service for the deaf in July 2002.

The service allows deaf people, those who are hearing or speech impaired, to contact officers through a special number in case of emergency.

According to an article in Ananova, a survey carried out in conjunction with Birmingham Institute of the Deaf has shown that 98% of hearing-impaired people used text-messaging and 85% would like to use it to communicate with police. It makes perfect sense.

Other countries have similar services. Belgium offers deaf automobile drivers emergency assistance by SMS, and though not an emergency service, but a nice gesture, recognizing texting as a vital communication tool, French operator Orange with «Motamo», offers special SMS rates for the deaf and hearing impaired.

emily | 3:58 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 20, 2003

Voting by SMS comes to American TV

Subscribers to Verizon Wireless were able to vote on the Most Valuable Player in the National Basketball Association's All-Star game. (cf The Inquirer)

And AT&T subscribers are able to vote for their preferred pop star contestants via their phones on TV show "American Idol 2", building on what some marketeers now call "iTV" applications, that is allowing TV viewers to interact with the programme via the web or their mobile. (cf mCommerce Times)

Using SMS text messaging to enhance TV programmes is tremendously successful in Europe, where television broadcasters have embraced SMS as a revenue generating tool, enabling users to interact with television broadcasts.

The best place read up on Broadcasters and SMS is on Europemedia who reports on conferences and studies published by Van Dusseldorp & Partners , an Amsterdam-based research and development company concentrating on European digital media strategies and policies.

emily | 4:23 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 19, 2003

Cell Phones may bring on Alzheimer's

Mobile phones damage key brain cells and could trigger the early onset of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study conducted by researchers at Lund University in Sweden

Radiation from cell phones damages areas of the brain associated with learning, memory and movement, and could trigger the early onset of Alzheimer's disease.

The study, which was carried out on rats, is the latest twist in the long-running debate over whether mobile phones are a health risk.

"However, this theory is hypothetical. We do not have evidence yet that the human brain is affected in this way", said Professor Leif Salford, of Lund University

The study is published in Environmental Health Perspectives - the journal of the US government's National Health Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
cf BBC

emily | 6:29 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 18, 2003

SMS campaign ties in with movie launch

This is not news, because it occured in 2002, but it's a wonderful example of how SMS can be used to promote a new movie.

Last year, much awarded British mobile marketing firm Flytxt, created an innovative campaign prior to the launch in the UK of «The Birthday Girl», starring Nicole Kidman as a Russian Internet bride.

Participants were asked to reply to a personal ad from a sexy Russian woman or create their own ad, as per the theme of the movie.

Every participant received a voucher by SMS, redeemable at Warner Village Cinemas and were entered into a prize draw to win tickets to the film's premiere.

Text messages were initially sent out to a database of people who had opted in to receive alerts about particular genres of film. The campaign was also being marketed through billboards and national press ads. cf Revolution Magazine.

emily | 6:45 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 17, 2003

Your texting dictionary

If you have trouble deciphering a text message, check out transL8it!, the first SMS dictionary, launched last year.

Symply type in your texting lingo and let transL8it convert it to plain english, or type in a phrase in english and convert it to TXT lingo. EZ.

emily | 6:57 PM | permalink | comment (0)

Sex in the Air campaign

Wired report on a wireless service in Singapore (where mobile penetration is greater than 75 percent - it's 51 percent in the US) encouraging young citizens to talk about sex, in a «Sex in the Air campaign» initiated by Action for AIDS. The service encourages subscribers to send sex-related questions by SMS to an international panel of doctors and health educators, with answered returned within 48 hours.

emily | 6:34 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 16, 2003

SMS in the Concise Oxford Dictionary

It's not just a fad, the new edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (the highest grammatical compendium of the English language) has included the idiom "SMS" as well as some helpful definitions : B4 (before), BBL (be back later), BCNU (be seeing you), CUL8R (see you later), HAND (have a nice day).

emily | 7:04 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 15, 2003

SMS celebrates 10th birthday

On December 3, 1992, an engineer named Neil Papworth sent the very first SMS with "MERRY CHRISTMAS" on it, to his collegeagues at Vodafone in Great Britain. But it was 7 years later that texting really took off.

Why did it take so long? Because for the first 7 years, cell phone users could only send an SMS to someone using the same operator. It wasn't until 1999 that short messages could be sent between different networks.

According to Andrew Bud, managing director of SMS transmission company mBlox, interviewed in the BBC, texting really only took off when it found its natural market — teenagers —attracted to pre-paid phones. "These pay-as-you-go users found their money went further with texting - which some networks originally neglected to charge for".

The technology was actually created by an Anglo-Dutch information technology firm called CMG, as reported in The Guardian.

According to Cor Stutterheim from CMG, "It started as a message service, allowing operators to inform all their own customers about things such as problems with the network. When we created SMS (Short Messaging Service) it was not really meant to communicate from consumer to consumer and certainly not meant to become the main channel which the younger generation would use to communicate with each other," added Stutterheim.

emily | 5:58 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 14, 2003

PunterSearch

In February, the excellent TheFeature.com, did a week-long series called «Sin is in» covering all aspects of mobile porn.

A market to get excited about, according to British research firm Visiongain, which estimates that sales of wireless erotica could reach $4 billion by 2006.

Adult entertainment should account for as much as 80 percent of the early-adopter traffic, if previous models such as video, DVD and the Internet are anything to go by

Most of the adult content providers such as porn star Serenity and Penthouse.com use their wireless sites to promote stars, sell related products or to attract the customer to their Internet sites.

Other companies are more innovative:

— Puntersearch has been written about and stands out for it's audacity, a prostitute finder service (which allows users to search by location or personal attribute such as hair colour) — thankfully, I could no longer find it online.

— Private Media offers an animated-Gif MMS where a porn star asks the wireless voyeur a question. Answered correctly, she'll take off an item of clothing. When she is completely naked, the user will be asked to pay a fee for a code number online to get access to a "private" Web session.

A must read series of articles in TheFeature.com

emily | 9:35 PM | permalink | comment (0)

Supafly

Supafly is yet another cell phone game from Swedish company, It's Alive! the first game to mix virtual characters, wireless phones and the Internet.

It's a location-based virtual soap opera where intrigues, gang conflicts, and romance are the tools of the trade for becoming a virtual celebrity, and lead to appearing in the gossip magazine, "Hype" .

You start the game by creating your own character, fine-tuning both its' appearance, personality, and clothing.

You can find nearby friends, a date, then send an SMS their way. Up close, you can interact with other players in many different ways. Chat, fight, kiss and trade stuff with others - all through your cell phone messaging system. Read more about it in Wired

emily | 8:32 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 13, 2003

Pervasive gaming

Pervasive gaming is the vision of Swedish company It's Alive!, meaning location-based games that surround you, 24 hours a day, everywhere. When you walk down the street, you're walking through an adventure world draped on top of the real world, and people you meet may be characters in the same game you're playing.

In their much written about game, BotFighters, which has formed a fanatical following in Sweden, Finland, Ireland and Russia, the players locate and shoot at each other with their cell phones out on the streets, where mobile positioning is used to determine whether the users are close enough to each other to be able to hit.

On the BotFighters website, a robot theme community, the players may upgrade their robots, buy weapons, chat, view high scores and get the real time position of other players.

During a game play, the player sends an SMS (or uses his WAP phone) to check his targets real time physical location. If the target is within range, the player can shoot by sending a "fire" SMS.

Some good articles on BotFighters in both Wired and The Guardian,

emily | 8:12 PM | permalink | comment (0)

Sex in the palm of your hand

You have to hand it to the porn industry for continuously coming up with ingenius applications for mobile devices. Start-up erotigo is a good example, as they offer a range of erotic services for people on the move.

«Eroticoguide». A personal concierge to the sexiest sites of the city, Erotiguide will directs you by SMS to the sexy hot spot of any city ("Strip tease joint two blocks ahead!), clubs, bars, restaurants, videos, books, toys, clothes and more. With updated listings searchable by category, location and gender/lifestyle orientation.

«Erotigames». Erotic games and "Pinup Puzzles" to play with hot models for hours of entertainment

«Ertfolio». A portable collection of favorite adult Internet sites.

emily | 10:56 AM | permalink | comment (0)

Sex in the Palm of your hand

You have to hand it to the porn industry for continuously coming up with ingenius applications for mobile devices. Start-up erotigo is a good example, as they offer a range of erotic services for people on the move.

«Eroticoguide». A personal concierge to the sexiest sites of the city, Erotiguide will directs you by SMS to the sexy hot spot of any city ("Strip tease joint two blocks ahead!), clubs, bars, restaurants, videos, books, toys, clothes and more. With updated listings searchable by category, location and gender/lifestyle orientation.

«Erotigames». Erotic games and "Pinup Puzzles" to play with hot models for hours of entertainment

«Ertfolio». A portable collection of favorite adult Internet sites.

emily | 10:43 AM | permalink | comment (0)

February 12, 2003

With N-Gage, Nokia goes after Nintendo

On February 5, Nokia officially launched the N-Gage game deck, the first handheld game system to deliver wireless multiplayer gameplay both locally and over the global network. It's been compared to the GameBoy Advance but according to a lengthy review in Wireless Developer Network, it's much much more and is best described as an "online, connected, multi-player, mobile, gaming device". Here's Nokia's press release

emily | 8:53 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 11, 2003

Donating by SMS

Text messaging is being used as a way to raise money, it's fast and easy and the (small) amount is charged directly to the donator's phone bill.

Here are a few examples of innovative fund raising campaigns by SMS:

— Unicef promoted its Christmas catalogue in an SMS campaign. Ads running on one million bus tickets in London and Oxfordshire invited travellers to text ‘xmas' and their name, house number and postcode to a short code to receive the catalogue.

Users were charged £1.50 for the catalogue on their mobile phone bill. A percentage went straight to Unicef, minus the phone operator's charge. cf Revolution Magazine

— Reality TV show «I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here? raised £618,799 for charity through the cost of phoning and texting the show. cf BBC

— BBC offered "Sport World Cup" text alerts in aid of Sport Relief. Each day text messages were sent to mobile phone subscribers, containing news and views from the BBC Sport team. Each message received cost 20p, and all profit, after tax, operator and handling charges, was donated to Sport Relief. cf BBC

— This is one of my favorite campaigns from Australia. In the summer of 2001, people sported red plastic clown's noses and placed them on car grilles, buses and even buildings, to help raise money in a nation wide campaign, for research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Australian telecom company Telstra offered its clients a Red Nose logo sent directly to their mobile phone screens. For each logo Telstra donated $1.84 Australian (US$0.95) to SIDS Australia. So by ordering up the logo via SMS or by downloading the logo from their website, Telstra customers donated about $10,000 Australian (US$5,200) to research. cf Wired

For anyone interested, there is a British company called Mdonate which develops mobile technology and solutions to enable secure and easy wireless donations.

emily | 9:59 PM | permalink | comment (0)

February 10, 2003

A rating system for mobile content

Mobile phone companies are turning to pornographic content in a bid to recoup the billions they have spent on third generation licences.

But to ensure that the material is not bought by those under the age of 18 and thus avoid bad press and parental backlash, they are considering a rating system for picture and video messaging. More in The Guardian

emily | 8:45 PM | permalink | comment (0)
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