Archives for June 2003
June 24, 2003
Irish hay-fever sufferers can sign up for advance warning of pollen levels by SMS service, according to U.TV and UK National Building Society Nationwide, in a first to speed up mortgage application decisions, launches a service that tracks the applications and informs customers throughout the process by SMS (and email), reports Netimperative
UK drivers using mobile phones at the wheel will face fines of up to £1,000 according to an article in the The Guardian, and in Canada, "concerned about a rise in accidents by distracted drivers, the government is not only getting ready to ban the use of cellphones while driving, they're also considering going a step further and possibly banning GPS navigation and other "vehicle information", reports Gizmodo.
Nextel Communications and two other carriers are expanding their services for a cell phone walkie-talkie feature called "push to talk"--but a new study by Telephia finds that corporate executives are not interested, according to News.com.
Men talk more on their cell phones than women but women play Java Games more often, according to a survey conducted for Cingular Wireless and reported in Cellular News.
I don't believe it. No one can beat women talking on the phone (any kind of phone) and I've never seen a woman play a game on her cell (however, I don't live in the US but in Switzerland).
3G posts what can only be an overly eager press release for a mobile conference system. Here is a brief description without the hype: A viral voice conferencing system – where participants can join, leave, re-join or involve friends and colleagues in conferences at will – is proving successful. The technology, developed by text and voice expert Telsis, allows spontaneous conferencing without pre-booking or set-up.
A week ago, according to the Straits Times, a gentleman sent an SMS to a colleage in Singapore and a friend in Britain received it too - twenty times. Apologetic mobile perator M1 is still investigating the case. In their experience this is a very rare occurence, and could be due to either a software glitch with the operator or in the gentleman's handset itself.
June 23, 2003
The BBC reports on localisation services offered by UK mobile operators, allowing users to request the location (accurate within 200 meters) of a cell phone by simply sending it's phone number. Fortunately for Data Protection regulations, prior authorisation from the phone owner is required.
Study: Location-aware mobiles will be "killer app"…
"In Japan, some users have created ‘buddy lists' so their phone sends them a message when they are in the same area as a friend. More adventurous users are now experimenting with allowing their phones to contact strangers in the same vicinity who match their personal profile.
An experimental system in Helsinki called Flirt enabled mobile users to leaves virtual messages or ‘hanging data' in specific locations which would be picked up by the next user to pass the same location. The experiment turned the city into a chatroom of flirty Finns.
"Mobilisation" concludes that people will gradually recognise the potential benefits of location-aware technology and accept the trade-off in reduced privacy. This has happened with other new services which required the disclosure of personal information in return for receiving a service.
The taxi hailing system Zingo which connects the caller to the nearest cab is one obvious example of how location awareness would be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat by by most users.
Demos believes that the government could help to grow awareness of the public benefits of mobile technology by undertaking not to request mobile location data for anything other than investigation of serious crime or terrorism".
The Guardian has a different take on the "Mobilisation" report (mentioned earlier in Textually) and publishes an article focusing on the intimacy of mobile technology which was also part of the study.
"Focus group research and in-depth interviews with users carried out by Demos reveal the extent to which the humble handset has already moved beyond being a mere practical communications tool to become the backbone of modern social life, from love affairs to friendships to work. One female teacher, 32, told the researchers: "I love my phone. It's my friend." -- The Guardian
Atelab Research Group has unveiled the first details about Chameleon - a new mobile phone for players. The device operates in two positions; vertical as a mobile phone and horizontal as a game console, according to Cellular News.
In had to level off somewhere, we have been so used to record breaking months in text messaging in the UK. "Growth in the number of SMS sent by British mobile phone users appears to have stalled in the first half of 2003, according to figures released by the Mobile Data Association on Monday.
The average daily number of text messages sent by Britons in May was 55 million, unchanged from April and down from 56 million sent in March, according to MDA data.
And MDA forecasts indicate little expectation of further growth for the rest of the year. The MDA is targeting 20 billion texts for all of 2003, which works out to 54.8 million per day, or just over one for every mobile phone in the country.
The MDA collects data from Britain's four network operators, Vodafone Group Plc, mmO2 Plc, Orange SA and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile", reports Reuters.
"Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone have got together with Spanish firm Telefonica Moviles to create a mobile payment system, known as Simpay.
They are hoping that Simpay, which will allow any user on the four networks to pay for games, music or even pay for a parking ticket via their mobile, will transform phones from communication devices to mobile purses.
Paybox, a similar idea, offered independently of the main European operators, floundered earlier this year due to lack of interest from consumers", according to the BBC.
June 22, 2003
According to an article in New Scientist read about in SMS savvy Mobile Tracker, a new consortium called VCE has lined up the world's top consumer electronics firms, mobile networks and broadcasters (including Nokia, Sony, Vodafone and the BBC) to fund the development of cellphones that will, get this, spend money on your behalf, thanks to butler-type software agents. Who on earth needs help spending money? A scary thought and quote: "agents deciding for themselves what they think you need".
Earlier this week there was an article in the BBC on an artificial intelligence program (also described as a mobile butler) which runs on cellphones developped by the University of Southampton. "This software is also able to determine users' preferences using the web to plan business and social events and is able to arrange times and appointments for meetings, using the local university database, based on the interests of a visitor".
In Sydney, according to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald, small businesses, "particularly pubs, clubs and restaurants are sending SMS promotions to cusomers who reveal their mobile phone number, cell phone users are cautioned to be careful where they leave their contact details".
Mobile perators are offering small business software for sending out multiple text messages at low rates. And though the Australian Direct Marketing Association last week introduced a code which prohibits unsolicited SMS messages, it only applies to its 500 members, most of whom are big corporations, according to smh.com.
Leaving your number as an opt-in for a marketing promotion of a product you are interested could probably end-up on someone's else's list, if you forget to opt-out. Early June, a French company called Claritas, specialized in collecting millions of postal and e-mail addresses for targeted customers, sent out a press release announcing that their mobile phone number listing was available to mobile marketing agencies. Their database is made up of 130'000 mobile numbers collected during a yearly consummer research study. I'm not sure those taking that survey released their mobile phone number would be for rent one day, for 0,25 euro (25 cents).
In a demonstration Friday in Alexandria Virginia, on how the police can pinpoint the location of someone dialing 911 for help with their cell phone, a database problem created a snafu and showed just how difficult a feat it is, though the city and mobile operator had upgraded their facilities and services to a second phase of 911 technology, where the call center receives the longitude and latitude of the caller.
Alexandria is one of the first towns in the Washington area to demonstrate the more precise technology, according to USA Today. Others plan to introduce it, but it is moving slowly due to budget and technical hurdles. The wireless industry estimates about 156,000 calls are made daily to 911 from mobile telephones.
June 21, 2003
Portugal's newest electronic initiative is the digital taxi. "Using global-positioning system (GPS) technology, the system, aimed at business travellers, is capable of automatically transmitting an SMS to a control centre in case of an accident or other incident.
It also provides information such as which pharmacists are on duty late at night, which museums are hosting special exhibitions, or the best route to get from one place to another. The extra services will cost passengers about 40 cents.
Some of the 400 taxis that will take part in the project next month in Lisbon will also have PCs installed in the back of the driver's seat, allowing instant access to the Internet, as well as faxes". Reports the The Globe and Mail
According to an article in the BBC, "half of all motorists carry out other tasks while driving including reading, writing and texting, a survey suggests.
--One in three people questioned admitted they talked on mobile phones and one in 10 sent text messages.
--One in five read or wrote when driving.
Other distractions including feeding a child, putting on make-up or changing clothes. One in 20 of the 675 respondents said they had been involved in an accident or near miss while being distracted".
Mike Masnick in Tech Dirt writes about how mobile phones are changing women's lives in Bangladesh as mobile phone companies are emplyoing women by giving them cell phones at a cheap rate. The "phone ladies" go around the the dusty villages with no other form of communication and rent out phone usage. The women who are "employed" this way say it's a great source of income and has really empowered them.
According to Yahoo News, Bangladesh, with a population of more than 130 million, 80 percent of them living in villages, has one of the lowest telephone penetration rates in the world, with only three land lines per 1,000 people.
In a sign that Hollywood is definitely getting it, Internet News describes how the movie industry has embraced the notion of mobile marketing, using it "to connect with tech-savvy fans and build excitement for blockbuster releases. Two hotly anticipated upcoming summer releases, Universal Pictures' "The Hulk" and MGM's "Legally Blonde 2" are the latest to sign up for ambitious mobile campaigns, and they're including everything from text-messaging sweepstakes to themed ringtones".
Two London based companies, LiveWebs and BeepMarketing have launched an anti-mobile spam initiative called SOS SMS on the Grumble Text website, according to 160characters.org. It means to inform mobile users on how to recognize spam, how to unsubscribe to it and formally report a mobile scam to ICSTIS, the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services.
Smit, who is Deputy Sports Editor at Business Day South Africa, cries out against too much technology and wonders if our children growing up in this new world "are going to lose the power of personal communication. Will they know the meaning of "body language" and "facial expression"? As they converse through text messaging and chat online. "Between television, computers, cellphones, faxes and the like, will they simply sit at home and conduct their lives electronically"?
Well it's true, they do do all of that, but I find with my own teenage son, friends are EVERYTHING and they are always getting together whenever they can, as soon as school is out and they are allowed too. SMS is for changing plans on the fly, confirming a tennis match or a soccer game, sneaking in a "gd nite" when lights are out, video more fun when playing with a friend and online chats and I.M. to gossip after school hours, at home. Were we so different, driving our parents crazy spending hours on end on the phone? Their world is all about communication and the richer for it, I think.
William Birnbauer in an article for The Age describes the down side of SMS, enabling idle teenagers out prowling at night to find out what's happening where, through text messaging and then crashing parties.
"The beauty of text messages, according to Cherie of Melbourne Australia, is they are cheap, immediate and you don't have to talk to people to get the word out. But the downside, revealed by police and others this week, is that hordes of youths can quickly find out about parties and gatecrash them, leading to violence and injuries.
Cherie, a university student, invited 70 friends to her 18th birthday party, held at her parents' home in the eastern suburbs. About 300 youths turned up uninvited.
Gatecrashing is not new, but in the past 10 years mobile phones, extended hours for nightclubs and bottle shops, and bigger parties are to blame for increased drunkenness and violence, say youth workers".
June 20, 2003
In an interesting article, The Christian Monitor looks into wired and wireless kids going off to camp. When looking for a summer camp, a new critera has come up, is this camp "plugged" or "unplugged". In today's world most teens don't want to leave home without their electronic toys. And most parents like to keep in touch thanks to cell phones. Camp directors are having to respond to this new reality and decide how much they will let the wired world into their simpler, far more rustic communities.
Most camp directors are against all electronic devices, radios, Walkmans, cellphones, computer games, and all similar devices which are solitary activities, saying camp is all about developing social skills, building community, sharing traditions, learning to write letters, cultivating an appreciation for the natural world, and being so physically active that kids drop into bed after taps.
But while many camps are trying to keep electronics out, others are finding that they must allow some forms in. A recent survey by the National Camping Association found that 70 percent of camps in America use e-mail. Of those, 60 percent use it for one-way communication, from parents to campers.
"A study commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Transport Association is intended to resolve a long-standing question: Do wireless telecommunications devices on commercial flights interfere with navigational equipment?
An FCC study in 2000 found that cell-phone use aboard aircraft increases the number of blocked or dropped calls on the ground. That's because at high altitude, cellular signals are spread across several base stations, preventing other callers within range of those base stations from using the same frequencies.
If the study determines exactly what causes the trouble, the study's authors hope that cell-phone manufacturers could make phones that alleviate the problem". Reports the Washington Post.
Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, in a first for the US market, starts selling a handset that works on both landline and cellular networks, named "One". Inside a home or office, the phone is a typical cordless phone and uses a landline telephone connection. But it switches automatically to a cell phone network when it is out of range of its base station, according to News.com.
Here is a different idea, reported by the WSJ in their coverage of fun and funky gadgets that caught their attention at CeBIT America: Make Your Mobile Phone Immobile: "For people who use a wireless service as their primary phone line, but would rather not talk on a handset, the "Dock-n-Talk" from Phone Labs, lets you access your cellphone service from any telephone in the house.
Before you scratch your head and ask why anyone would want to trade the mobility of a cellphone for a regular old phone connected to a wall, the company that makes the device, PhoneLabs Inc., suggests it might come in handy if the cellphone reception is better in certain areas of your house. Customers can also use the Dock-N-Talk to access both a wire line and cell service, and then choose which service is most economical for any given call."
Mobile operator U.S: Cellular is helping its customers master the rules of good wireless manners, "a key to making public places more enjoyable for everyone." In order to become a more courteous wireless phone user, US Cellular suggests wireless etiquette tips in 7 points. Some favorites:
Watch Your Tone - Choose the most appropriate ring tone when in a professional setting and save the downloadable music for when you're out with friends.
No Need to Shout - A necessary reminder
TMB (Text Me Back) - If you can't answer a voice call
For those who own a camera phone and don't know how to behave, check out The rules of etiquette for camera-phones.
Per an article in Computer World, as more and more of New Zealand's ASB Bank customers are using the Internet, they will be offering them online access to their accounts, with an authentification system by SMS. "The RSA software creates a unique, one-off access code when a user logs in and sends it via SMS to the user's mobile phone, with the user then entering the code to verify their identity".
Online financial information provider Advance Financial Network (ADVFN) has launched an SMS text service for private investors. The new service will enable mobile phone users to receive price information for their chosen stocks by sending an SMS including the stock symbol to ADVFN. They will receive a text message within ten seconds detailing the stock's current price, the bid and offer price as well as the day's highs, lows and opening price. From Netimperative.
Recently another new stock quote service launched called mobiquote, offering the delivery of key financial data and business news to mobile phones, supplied by Reuters from stock exchanges and business correspondents around the world. (cf recent post in textually Stock Quotes & News Alerts by SMS).
"A convergence technology from India will make televisions as smart as computers, enabling them to access interactive broadband services.
Called RAMNet (Remote Access Metroplitan Network), the new convergence technology for mass use virtually turns the TV set into a smart information and communication device, enabling one to send and receive SMS, e-mail, video on demand, do online chatting and gaming, attend educational classes and do even shopping, besides watching the channels". Reports The Hindu.
In a fun article for the Herald Sun Australia, SMS romancing is depicted as "the lowest from of communication commitment around" and is only a hit with singles "because it provides a path of least resistance to dating; it's courtship by cowardice". Text messaging is described as "making for lousy, unfulfilling, relationship foreplay with SMS culture killing courtship, slowly and insidiously." The article finishes off with a quote from John Lennon, adressed to singles caught in the "stultifying vacuum of SMS flirting": "Whatever gets you through the night".