Archives for June 2006
June 30, 2006
Weird Objects for Weird Users? addresses the issue of autophobia, an abnormal and persistent fear of being alone.
One of the objects, The Phobic to Phobic has been designed to dialogue in total anonymity with people who suffer from the same phobia, removing any fear to be judged and feel ashamed.
It works via the Autophobia society. When a user picks up the phone, he or she is randomly connected to other agoraphobics belonging to the same society, they can talk and feel the other person's movement through the surface of the phone.
[reBlogged from WMMNA]
People who talk on cellphones while driving, even using "hands-free" devices, are as impaired as drunk drivers, researchers said on Thursday, reports Reuters.
"The researchers from University of Utah used a driving simulation device for their study, published in the summer 2006 issue of Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
They studied 40 volunteers who used a driving simulator four times -- while undistracted, using a handheld cell phone, using a hands-free cell phone and while intoxicated.
... Just like many people who have been drinking, the cellphone users did not believe themselves to be affected, the researchers found. "
Related article from 2003:
-- Young Drivers More At Risk With Phone - A study by University of Utah researchers found it was more dangerous to use a cell phone behind the wheel than it was to drive drunk.
Rotten Driver, launched with Public Service Entertainment LLC, encourages people to text message in the license plate number of rotten drivers.
The report is logged and the end user receives a message back with the number of times the plate number has been reported.
Every report appears in the RottenDriver.com Hall of Shame and frequent offenders appear on the Top 10 lists for the day, week and month.
Related stories on appealing to citizens to turn into informants - not related to national security - which is understandable - but to polluting vehicles, anti-social behaviour (how can that not misfire?) or traffic offenses:
-- MS campaign appeal for informants - to single out polluters - Public transportation operators in Jakarta might have to pay more attention to their vehicles' emissions as Jakartans now have a chance to complain by SMS about the fumes they are spewing out.
-- Pilot for police text alerts - Suffolk police are running the year-long pilot scheme, which uses the same technology employed by the Metropolitan Police to make appeals for information following the London bombings on July 7. Eventually people will be able to send picture messages or send in films of crimes.
-- Harlow council uses MMS to catch vandals - The town is encouraging people to take pictures of anti-social acts on their mobile phones and then text them to a special number along with details of where the vandalism has occurred.
-- Indonesia hotline to keep tabs on disease - Indonesia's health ministry launched a hotline to let the public report disease outbreaks and lodge complaints about health care using mobile phone text messages.
-- Snap a picture of a traffic offender - The Transport Ministry of Malaysia is inviting the public to help enforcement officers keep an eye on traffic offenders so that action could be taken against them. So the next time you see a traffic offence being committed, snap it on your handphone or camera and send it to the Hall of Shame section of a newly launched road safety website.
-- Framed! Photos taken by general public net errant motorists in Malaysia - Malaysian authorities have issued summonses to some 40 motorists whose alleged road offenses were exposed in an online Hall of Shame, a news report said Monday (Ausut 22, 2005).
The US political campaign scene is starting to mobilize, according to Hotline On Call.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and John Edwards are two national political figures starting text messaging campaigns.
John Edwards' One America Committee launched his test message campaignThursday. Users can sign up on the Web site and give their name, email and cell phone number to receive periodic updates of his campaign trail.
Santorum debuted his SMS campaign at a Women For Rick breakfast last week hosted by Mary Matalin, who demonstrated the new technology for the open event. ... [In what I think is an amazing mis-perception and a sexist comment, ] Internet director Mindy Finn said they chose the all-female crowd because women tend to be busier and use their cell phones in more creative ways.
Starting in July, the campaign plans to use more of the technology with issue-based messages, such as a text on Santorum's work on immigration. They also have plans to integrate SMS into their direct mail and perhaps television and radio ads. As Finn put it, the opportunities are "limitness."
Previous US political campaigns where SMS was used::
June 29, 2006
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has placed a “hold” on major telecommunications legislation approved by the Senate Commerce Committee until clear language is included in the legislation that prevents discrimination in Internet access, reports Save The Internet Blog.
"Immediately following the Commerce Committee’s vote against a Net Neutrality amendment, Senator Wyden marched onto the floor of the Senate to demand that the legislation include stronger safeguards against phone and cable company discrimination.
A hold signals his intent to filibuster until certain issues in the Stevens’ bill are cleared up."
"The major telecommunications legislation reported today by the Senate Commerce Committee is badly flawed," Wyden told the Senate.
According to the Associated Press, China's aviation regulator plans to quadruple fines (from a $ 60 fine to $ 250) for airline passengers who use mobile phones during flights due safety concerns.
It seems many people are flying for the first time and are unfamiliar with in-flight rules.
Dutch police have warned local people in the south of the country to be on the lookout for two men who tried to abduct two young boys in separate incidents this week. [via Expatica]
... "The Dutch Police used the SMS alarm system to warn mobile phone users in a 10km radius around the town to watch out for the car and the men. A police search was also mounted on Wednesday."
I'm not sure how useful this is. After all, who makes a voice call to a fax number, unless by mistake, in which case when you hear the annoying fax noise, you hang up.
Nevertheless, Nikkei Net reports that Sharp Corp will launch a fax machine that can record phone conversations for 45 seconds and play them back, for people who fear receiving obscene or other types of malicious calls.
"The latest addition to the "fappy" line of fax machines is designed to continually store phone conversations in a RAM (random-access memory) chip and then erase them." fappy?
Google Mobile has come to Europe. Already available in the US, the service allows users to access Google News and Gmail via their mobile phones, and is now being launched across the UK, France, Germany and Spain. [via TechSpot]
This Fall, 1,000 sophisticated robots will make people's daily lives easier by cleaning up homes, taking care of pets or reading books for children, according to The Korea Times. And half of them will be remote-controlled by cell phones.
"Five types of wheeled robots will take part in the large-scale test runs and up to 50 percent of the 1,000 machines would be operated by mobile phones,'' said Oh Sang-rok, project manager at the Ministry of Information and Communication"
The cell-phone-directed robots can guard homes around the clock as camera-eyed models enable their owners to monitor their home at any time from anywhere.
When unexpected visitors enter a home, the owners will be able to check their identities via the robot's eyes connected to the cell phone before taking proper measures like reporting to the police. "
Another thing strange thing cell phones will be able to do. Act as a metal detector.
"Nokia has devised a mobile handset that can also double as a metal detector, enabling the owner to look for concealed guns, hidden electrical cables and lost car keys, reports New Scientist via the AFP.
"The US patent application filed by Nokia says the phone is fitted with an induction coil whose main use is to get a clear audio signal for people with hearing difficulties. But it can also be used to detect metal at short distances."
"The phone can be set to block certain people in the book, say, your ex, your boss, and your pastor, from being dialed when the phone detects booze on your breath."
-- Trying To stop Drunken calls -The Australian branch of Virgin mobile has launched a new service to stop people from making incoherent phone calls they may later regret.
Out-Law.com reports that mobile phone content providers who break phone regulator ICSTIS rules, could be banned from operating any premium rate services. The new rules will be introduced in September.
June 28, 2006
//Mukana is a piece of cutting-edge smart clothing designed for the visually impaired - which includes a cell phone, a wireless headset, a Global Positioning System (GPS) module and voice recognition software. The project is presented on SAUMA, an exhibition exploring new approaches to usability, user experience and the design process itself. [via WMMNA].
In their own words:
"A group of visually impaired participated throughout the process of development. The final prototype was thoroughly tested by them.
The system takes account of the special needs of the visually impaired. Users can ask //MUKANA to tell them their location, to give information on what route to take to their destination or on the timetables of public transportation.
With //MUKANA, people can use the phone and operate the guide system with the help of a Bluetooth® enabled wireless headset and an integrated 10-key Braille number pad for the visually impaired. Extra batteries are included to guarantee the long-term functioning of the system and the cell phone. There is a pocket where the headset can be charged and stored, as well as a pocket for keys and a wallet. The Braille keypad is located in front of the garment, rotated 90 degrees from the normal position to support ergonomic hand movement."
As of last year, Koreans owed a total of over $2.08 billion in fixed line and mobile phone fees - double what it was two years ago - the Korea Association of Information & Telecommunication said yesterday, reports JoongAng Daily.
"The association said it did not include unpaid bills for the high-speed Internet or satellite digital multimedia broadcasting service sectors, but that if it had, the total would be much greater. "
America's first state-wide mandatory cell phone recycling law targeting wireless retailers and goes into effect July 1, 2006, requiring cell phone retailers in California to establish a collection and recycling program. [via
Nokia Corp. is suing two Chinese companies for producing mobile phones that allegedly copy the design of the Nokia 7260 handset, reports the Associated Press.
"The cell phone manufacturer wants a court in Beijing to order the companies to pay damages and cease making and selling the phones. The court accepted the lawsuit June 12."
Forbes writes about what it takes for a cell phone to become iconic. "Over the years, of the thousands of phones manufactured around the world, only a select few can qualify as iconic: a special blend of functionality and design, marketing and style.
"To qualify as iconic, most of the phones featured breakthrough designs, challenging prior devices with size, shape and style. But utility and mass adoption are just as important--if people don't buy them, it's hard to say they're relevant."
Click to view Forbes iconic cell-phone hall of fame photo gallery. From the 1980's Bag phone (left) to Motorola's RAZR.
How did I miss this? Model superstar Naomi Campbell was arrested lat March for hitting her housekeeper over the head with her cell phone and appeared in Court yesterday.
The 36-year-old celebrity model faces up to seven years in prison if convicted for that incident.
Reuters broke the story, "There has been no grand jury action at this time. We are talking about a disposition," assistant District Attorney Shanda Strain, the assistant district attorney told Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Evelyn Laporte.
What that means is that Campbell will be back in court on September 27 to either accept a plea deal or learn that she has been indicted for second-degree assault in a case in which housekeeper Ana Scolavino says the model threw a phone at her."
[via The Deadbolt]
Related: - Russell Crowe arrested for phone assault
Cellphone giveaways are to be used to encourage more young people to give up smoking, reports Radio New Zealand.
"The Health Research Council has allocated $1.5 million to Auckland University researchers to design a stop-smoking programme of video and text messaging, aimed at 18 - 24 year olds.
The Quitline service claims that group has become the most eager to stop. Up to 1,300 young people will be recruited to take part in the programme, with 200 getting a free upgrade to a video phone.
They will be sent video logs from people who have quit smoking, along with games and text messaging.
Not everyone thinks the program is a good idea, The Health Minister has called on the Opposition to "suspend its judgement" over the programme.
National has dismissed the programme as a wasteful giveaway that rewards the irresponsible. "
"Games focused on puzzles and strategy generated the most revenue, the findings showed. The puzzle and strategy category represented 34% of total revenue and women accounted for 72% of that.
The most popular four games fell into the puzzle and strategy category and included Tetris, Tetris Deluxe, Bejeweled and Jamdat Mahjong - which contributed 13.6% of mobile phone game revenue in total.
After the puzzle and strategy group, the category with the biggest revenue was card and casino games, which accounted for 18.3% of total earnings.
The only group in which revenue comes more from men than womena is action and adventure, where men have a 60% share."
Coupons by mobile phone service Cellfire went nationwide for Cingular users yesterday, reports TechCrunch, following tests in California where coupons redeemed at a rate of almost 20%, with some surpassing that mark.
"The number of participating merchants is small right now (7 total, including Hollywood video) but with a success rate like that you know more companies are going to be interested."
June 27, 2006
A great video on Rocketboom today, on a mobile fixed phone service in Narobi.
Childhood polio has confined both men in this video to wheelchairs. For years they strugged on the streets selling materials to live. Now they have a mobile phone business thanks to their goverment. The introduction of these mobile fixed phones made that possible. The phone is connected to a mobile phone network in Kenya and works like any fixed phone. So every day they place themselves where they expect to attract the most customers who need to make a phone call.
Vlogged by video journalist Ruud Elmendorp, RocketBoom's in narobi.
"For the mathematically minded, in units of pence per byte: SMS = (12/160) = 0.075 p/B, Broadband (2699/40000000000)=0.00000675 p/B, i.e. sending an SMS is nearly 12000 times more expensive than sending an email message using your broadband connection. "
Another wonderful Barry Fox patent find on New Scientist [reBlogged]
"Swiss telecommunications firm Swisscom has been playing with remote-controlled toy planes, cars and boats. The company sees such fun gadgets as a serious new tool for targeted advertising.
A small unmanned plane could be flown over a concert or sports audience, beaming advertising messages, news flashes and weather updates to those below using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or another wireless standard. The messages would be stored aboard the plane and refreshed by a control server using a separate wireless link.
The plane would draw attention to itself by beeping and flashing its lights. This should encourage anyone nearby to check their phones and PDAs for new messages. " ...
Metal Phone is project by Schulze & Webb developped for Chris Heathcote of Nokia, to explore personalisation in mobile phones. A bit too esoteric for my brain waves, but as a general rule, I love cell phone concepts, so here you go. [via mobile|blog.it]
"Metal Phone is a mobile phone within limits. You’ll need strong pockets. The metal reduces the effectiveness of the aerial so you’ll need to be closer to the transmitter. If you leave your mobile on the dashboard of your car on a hot day, you’ll come back to find the components in a pool of liquid metal. It’s not advisable to hold the phone in your hands for too long—cadmium is present in a low concentration."
"Ramos-Horta told a news briefing that he had sent an SMS to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri announcing his intention to quit on Sunday, and received a reply in the same format from the premier. "I explained myself in a subsequent text message," he said.
The country has been embroiled for months in a political crisis and text messaging has emerged as the fastest and most reliable means of communication.
Thousands of protesters clamouring for Alkatiri's resignation have been mobilising themselves via SMS, and news of him stepping down on Monday spread rapidly through text messages."
Here's how it works: Procter and Flytxt will distribute to bars across the country cocktail napkins printed with a code and directions. Visitors at the bar, presumably young dating types, punch in the number on their mobile phones to initiate the game. They then get back a series of questions, such as: "If you are on a date and your cell phone is ringing, what do you do?"
After responding to the questions, the player gets a score that rates "Irresistibility IQ" and then gives a plug for the toothpaste".
Previous post: - Crest toothpaste mobile campaign
Some of the world's top wireless and Internet companies, including Nokia, Vodafone and Google, have agreed on a set of Web site development guidelines aimed at making it easier to surf the Internet on cell phones, reports News.com.
"The majority of cell phones today have Web browsers as wireless providers hope to expand beyond voice services, but only about 19 percent of U.S. mobile phone users regularly use the Web on their phones, according to researcher M:Metrics.
The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), a group backed by 30 industry players, hopes to improve on this percentage by creating 60 guidelines for developers to design sites that are easy to use on cell phones, which have much smaller screens and tiny keypads. "
Congratulations to Rafat Ali, who has received funding from venture capitalist Alain Patricof. Rafat Ali and his team on MocoNews is a daily read for anyone interested in the mobile content industry and a longstanding favorite of this blog.
According to Reuters, "The owners of the blog paidContent.org - the parent company of their three sites - which writes about the technology and media industries, on Monday said they have received funding from venture capitalist Alan Patricof.
Patricof, who helped finance Apple Computer Inc, AOL and New York magazine, said he saw paidContent as a must-read for industry insiders.
"I've been an avid reader of the sites for some time and watched it expand into areas such as job search and wireless applications despite having limited capital at its disposal," Patricof said in comments on paidContent announcing the deal.
ContentNext has been profitable from its first day, Ali said in an interview, and it is expected to generate sales of "low-single-digit" millions by next year.
The company also said it has hired former Details magazine president and publisher Jeff Stern as a director and chief operating officer. "