Archives for October 2006

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October 31, 2006

DoCoMo & Intel design cellphone to run multiple operating systems

According to iTWire, NTT DoCoMo has developed, with Intel, specifications for mobile phone that is able to switch between different operating systems and their associated applications.

... "One use of the technology will be to enable companies to install an original browser and scheduler, and set an internal security policy for the terminal while allowing individuals to install their own games and other software in the alternative, open domaing, without risk of compromising corporate data or applications."

emily | 11:42 PM | permalink

The Long Arm of the Cell Phone

Cell phones are becoming increasingly sophisticated tracking devices popular in social networking circles. Business Week reports.

" By now, anyone with a Net connection is familiar with social networking sites such as MySpace.com The only name that may score higher on the buzz-o-meter is presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

But the momentum has really just begun. Site operators are linking their services to cell phones, enabling users to stay in constant touch without booting up a PC. Social networking has "become so incredibly viral," says MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe, "it makes all the sense in the world to port this to a mobile device.

Now more cell services are incorporating location-based satellite technology and maps, making all kinds of social applications possible."

emily | 9:00 AM | permalink

Halloween. Come as a cell phone!

Some Halloween fun and ideas.

From Gizmodo, Zach Morris Halloween Costume.

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From Japan. Comes as a keitai

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From the USA. the Inflatable kind

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And from Engadget' archives, don't froget to dress up your cell phone.

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emily | 8:18 AM | permalink

Japan phone alerts couples to baby-making window

ra3826962880.jpg A new mobile phone available through Japan's NTT DoCoMo can ring to let would-be mothers know when they reach the most fertile part of their monthly reproductive cycles, reports Reuters.

"By tapping in data on menstruation dates, the user can programme the phone to alert her three days before ovulation and again on the day. The company warns that the calculations are based on average cycles.

... The handset provides several other functions designed to appeal to women, such as a recipe database and a button on the side that sets off a "camouflage melody", allowing the user to avoid unwanted attention by pretending to receive a call."

This is not new, previously China launched a pink phone to help monitor menstrual cycles and an SMS service from UK family planing, Mother and Baby, launched a "Time for Sex" text alert as early as 2001.

emily | 7:53 AM | permalink

Samurai voodoo doll phone charms

More fun from Tokyomango, Samurai voodoo doll phone charms. Anyone you want to to cast a spell on or stick needles in?

samurai voo doo.jpg

emily | 7:42 AM | permalink

Maine Gubernatorial Race Goes Mobile

cellphone_mockup.jpg Justin Oberman is in charge of running the mobile part of Main's Gubernatorial Race. He writes:

"In what I view as the first serious use of mobile technology in an American election (Edwards, Ford and Schwarzenegger have the technology but have really not used it to any great extent) , Green Independent candidate for Governor Pat LaMarche has launched a major mobile campaign a week before the election.

...The mobile part of her campaign officially launched Monday in a very interesting way. As of Monday morning students and citizens of Maine could text the word "Pat" and a topic (example: Pat Health Care) to the shotcode 30644. Later Pat was speaking at the University of Maine in Orono where her speech will be based on the top three topics that students and Maine citizens send to her via text message. Very interactive, very neat.

Pat also will also be using her skill as a professional Radio personality to receive questions via text message in upcoming radio interviews throughout the week.

Of course, sending a topic or question to the shotcode will send a text message back to user asking them to opt in to what the campaign is calling "Pats Immediate Response Team" the purpose of which is to send out the latest insider news, call to actions, campaign ringtones and tips on how you can help Pat win.

Opting into the text message also signs you up to receive important Get Out The Vote reminders on the day of the election (of which will include information on where to go to vote). The text will also ask users to send a text message to at least 5 people reminding them to go vote.

The mobile part of the campaign is aimed mostly at Maines young voters and as of the press release last night they have already have 135 people signed up."

emily | 7:30 AM | permalink

October 30, 2006

Music Industry gets the message

pddy.jpg A California hip-hop station, XMOR-FM, where Diddy made a guest appearance, opened a contest to all high schools in the area, asking students to send a text message with the word "Diddy" during a four-day period. Reuters reports.

"Chula Vista won the contest, logging 34,000 messages. Some students reported sending in hundreds of messages each. In all, the station received more than 170,000 text messages.

The Diddy campaign is just one implementation of many that show how record companies and radio stations use text messaging as a promotional tool.

"Every artist with every track, and all the merchandising and all the advertising, we're using (text messaging) to try and drive business," says David Ellner, executive VP of operations for Universal Motown/Republic Group. "The consumers, from a texting standpoint, are completely literate with this."

Typically, this takes the form of a CD insert listing a special "short code" to which fans can send a text message to buy ringtones and other content.

"I don't think you will see a (marketing) tool coming out of Atlantic Records -- anything from an album, flier or advertisement -- that doesn't have some sort of mobile promotion," says Cyndi Allnot, Atlantic Records' mobile marketing manager.

Labels also are incorporating text-message responses in their TV, radio and print advertising as sort of a mobile URL, and consumers are responding.

According to October figures from mobile traffic measurement firm M:Metrics, 7% of the U.S. mobile subscriber base has used text messaging to respond to such ads. Compared with Spain and the United Kingdom, which boast a 29% and 18.5% response rate respectively, that number may seem low. But it's on par with the 10% reported in France and actually beats the 3.5% reported in Germany.

...Compared with other entertainment industries, like film or TV, the music industry is more sophisticated in its usage of text messaging as a promotional tool".

For anyone wanting to know more about the music industry's interest in mobile phones, read Ringtonia.com, one of the 3 blogs from the textually.org network, which has been covering this side of mobile news daily since 2003.

emily | 1:20 PM | permalink

Text Messaging USA - Random Stats

Once considered a service used only in Europe and Asia, text messaging is emerging as an important form of communication in the US, with 40% of the nation's 220 million mobile phone users sending text messages regularly, according to research from NPD Group, reports Reuters.

"By comparison, about 21 percent of U.S. subscribers have downloaded a ringtone (although only about 10% can be considered "active" downloaders), while about 9% have downloaded a mobile game.

According to CTIA-The Wireless Assn., U.S. subscribers sent close to 65 billion text messages through the first half of this year. That's about double the number sent in the first half of 2005."

emily | 12:55 PM | permalink

Colour by Numbers

0rgblue2.jpg Colors by Numbers - a collaboration between the artist Erik Krikortz, the architect Milo Lavén and the interaction designer Loove Broms - is a 72 meters high light installation at Telefonplan in Stockholm. The installation will be inaugurated on October 23 and will shine during evenings and nights until January 7.

Anyone can color the lights by calling 070 - 57 57 807 or going to the project's . [via we-make-money-not-art.com]

Related:

-- Instant Blinkenlights- an interactive light installation enablings mobile phone users to create animations or play games such as Tetris, Pong or Pacman on the facade of buildings.

emily | 9:37 AM | permalink

A petition to bring back buttons on phones?

278759057_86084b4300_m.jpg 278759040_30b2017ed2_m.jpg From Design Sojourn:

"I am starting to feel such non-mechanical buttons actually reduce the user experience rather than enhance it. Often because these static buttons are not used in a correct context and it lacks the most important thing a tactile and haptic feedback. (Pictures left of Nokia concept mobile phone with static buttons).

“Static” buttons on the other hand have issues with feedback. Nothing moves, so there is no action and thus no reaction. Therefore designers that use “static” buttons need to employ a host of other feedback elements, like beeping sounds or lights. This is a very software driven interface and hence prone to software based problems."

[via del.icio.us/blackbeltjones]

emily | 9:16 AM | permalink

129 million mobile phone users in India

According to the BBC, "India now has about 129 million mobile phone users - which equates to about one in nine of the population. However, it still lags well behind China which has 430 million users in a population of 1.3bn".

[via Smart Mobs]

emily | 9:16 AM | permalink

Superhero masks and fast food cell phone charms

Spotted on Tokyomanga: Superhero masks as cell phone charms from Japan.

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And on Gizmodo, presumably orginating in the US, fast food cell phone charms.

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emily | 7:46 AM | permalink

Devices to translate words and magazine print into SMS

deaf tecg.jpg According to Tokyomanga, "Japan's Ministry of Health just launched a major collaborative effort with 10+ companies and research institutes to create highly exportable, high-tech devices for people with hearing and vision disabilities.

One of the items will instantly translate spoken words into cell phone text messages for the hearing impaired.

And another read printed text from magazines. Hitachi and IBM already have gadgets that will read web sites, but not magazines.

The officials said such devices could potentially grow into key export items for Japan."

emily | 7:36 AM | permalink

October 29, 2006

Mobiles, protests and pundits

4306IR3.jpg The Economist has a great article on the use of mobile phones to organize collective action and how they are changing political landscapes. [via Smart Mobs]

"Until recently, killers in Burundi found it easy to cover their traces; they just tossed the bodies into a river where crocodiles would eat them up. But in August residents of Muyinga province acted fast when they saw fresh corpses drifting downstream; they used their mobile phones to contact NGOs, who in turn tipped off the United Nations, whose soldiers got to the scene fast enough to recover some forensic evidence.

The use of mobiles as a tool of "empowerment", even in the poorest and worst-governed parts of the world, is not always so grisly. The cruder kinds of electoral fraud, relying on poor communications between the capital and the boondocks, are now much harder.

Even with minimal resources, monitors can count the voters and conduct exit polls—and then phone their findings to a radio station before the authorities stuff the ballot boxes. Such methods have helped make elections a bit cleaner in places like Ghana and Kenya. "

Meanwhile, in Europe's darkest corner, Belarus, text messages call youngsters to surreal acts of resistance, such as (to take a recent example) gathering to eat ice cream.

Chroniclers of cellular people power identify two big landmarks:

"The rallies that toppled President Joseph Estrada of the Philippines in 2001, and South Korea's presidential election a year later, when text messages among the young brought a surge of support for President Roh Moo-hyun. In both those countries protests are still convened by text message not just at critical times, when national leadership is at stake, but to highlight almost any sort of grievance.

For Europeans “mobile democracy” came of age with the Spanish election of March 2004, immediately after a terrorist attack in Madrid: the Socialists rode to power on a wave of text-driven anger with the ruling conservatives. In America some claim the same happened at the Republican convention in 2004, when text messages helped protesters play cat-and-mouse with the New York police."

emily | 4:42 PM | permalink

The Republican National Committee launches breaking news SMS alert service

joinggopmobile.jpg

The Republican National Committee is inviting mobile users to sign up online for SMS election-related breaking news and action alerts.

[via theBivingsreport]

emily | 11:01 AM | permalink

October 28, 2006

Military cell phone regulations can keep calls waiting

41075_102713261b.jpg Driving while using a cell phone is illegal on every Navy installation worldwide. But what about texting and chatting on foot? Stars and Stripes covers the military's position - which is more about common sense than imposing new rules.

"Sailors can wear a cell phone while in uniform , but walking and talking on it is generally discouraged unless you’re talking shop.

There’s nothing officially prohibiting talking on the cellular phone in uniform (in fact the Navy's new dress code includes cell phone wear), but we tend to discourage it because it doesn’t project a crisp military image, it's largely a leadership call", said Yokosuka Naval Base commanding officer Capt. Greg Cornish."

emily | 9:21 AM | permalink

Text Messaging for Safe Water

DSC_0225_JPG.jpg In Bangladesh, arsenic poisoning occurrs naturally in about 50% of private tube wells, reports World Changing, putting people who drink the water at risk.

"Despite warnings from the government, many villagers cannot afford to dig tube wells deeper than 40ft. They continue to install shallow tube wells at a fast pace.

Lex van Geen and his colleagues at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University are working to reduce the exposure to arsenic through their development of an SMS - accessible database to best inform communities of how deep to drill their wells to avoid arsenic.

A pilot project incorporated data from 300,000 wells into the Welltracker database, which reports for each village the number of wells tested, the proportion of unsafe wells and, when available, the start depth together with an estimate of the probability that the estimate is correct. "

Picture left from UCLA, "digging a well in Bangladesh".

emily | 8:20 AM | permalink

October 27, 2006

TomTom and Vodafone to launch real-time traffic info

tomtom_logo.gif Vodafone UK and navigation systems company TomTom will offer a service in the Netherlands where mobile phone signals sent from traffic jams will enable a real-time travel information service, according to Reuters.

"Mobile phones continuously beam signals to their nearest base stations, which gives the network provider the approximate location of the phone. TomTom will use this location information to establish if roads are congested, if and by how much the trip will be delayed, and if alternative routes can be suggested. "

emily | 6:32 PM | permalink

Cellphone-only crowd growing, not yet a problem for pollsters

The cellphone-only crowd is not yet large enough and their views not different enough to affect the accuracy of traditional political polling, a new study suggests, reports Yahoo News.

"... The growth of the cellphone-only group has raised concerns among survey researchers that it would render obsolete the most commonly used polling method of contacting a random sample of the public on traditional landline phones.

Growth of the cellphone-only group may eventually reduce their differences from the overall population, said Scott Keeter, a survey researcher at the Pew Research Center.

The biggest differences found between landline phone users and cellphone only users involved their levels of political engagement.

Just 49 per cent of the cell-only users were registered voters, while 78 per cent of those in the landline sample were registered voters. That's another reason the cellphone only group has a minimal effect on political polling."

emily | 6:16 PM | permalink

Ghosts of Liberty - pervasive game

northend.jpg Ghosts of Liberty ’ is yet another mobile/pervasive game (played in Boston) and designed by Urban Interactive . [via pasta&vinegar]

This Halloween season, Urban Interactive will haunt Boston's historic North End with the new ‘augmented reality’ game, Ghosts of Liberty. Combining elements of mobile gaming with theme-park style immersion and improvisational actors, this hair-raising experience will redefine "a night on the town" for adventurous Bostonians.

Players roam through the lamp-lit alleys of Boston's North End, following a trail of ghostly messages to track a mysterious enemy of the state. A cell phone weaves electronic gameplay and live action into the nocturnal ambiance, as participants race against the clock to solve riddles, discover hidden items, and interact with characters both real and digital."

emily | 9:44 AM | permalink

The wildest mobile apps

There's more to mobile apps than ringtones, text messages and casual games, according to telecomasia.net via Tome Hume.

Wireless Asia has compiled some of the most interesting mobile apps they've come across in the last couple of years, showcasing some of the more imaginative mobile apps spotted "in the wild" (so to speak), and to provide a sneak peek at what various R&D boffins think will define apps development in the future. Most have been covered in the blog over the years, but it's a truly wonderful roundup.

1. The Lie/Love detector

The "Truthful Calls" service uses a voice analysis system by Israeli company Nemesysco that functions as an emotion detector, assessing the level of honesty of the person you're calling.

2. Call yourself in the future

From Web services company CDyne, a Web-based app that allows you to call yourself in the future. Really!

3. Ghost detector

TV show tie-ins are becoming a frequent excuse for mobile apps. Mobile content development company Wiretown (started, appropriately, by two men with TV broadcasting backgrounds) have developed a paranormal detector for cellphones.

4. Car alarm

The "Silent-I" system not only sends an SMS to the car's own

5. Spy phones

An ordinary-looking mobile phone that actually doubles as an eavesdropping device

6. Halal verification service

An SMS-based service in Malaysia that allows Muslims to conform the halal status (which is to say "permissible" under Islamic law) of products.

7. Liquid wallpaper

Technically more of a user-interface feature than an app, but still innovative: the N702iS handset (developed by NEC, NTT DoCoMo and Japanese design company Nendo) comes with sensor-driven wallpaper that makes the screen look like a glass of liquid.

8. Send SMS messages and emoticons to your clothes

Uranium-Jeans has a line of "interactive clothing" that comes with embedded flexible micro screens that display images and scrolling text messages that can either be downloaded from Uranium's Web site or sent by SMS.

9. Camera dictionary

Camera Dictionary is a software app that allows users to scan English words using their camera phones and translate them to Japanese.

10. Mobile breathalyzer

Not sure if you or your driver has had one too many martinis? Use your mobile phone to check his or her alcohol level via a breath analyzer connected to the handset.

And a favortie future ap:

Ghost in the cell

Professor Kim Jong-hwan of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology wants to take the "genie in a bottle" concept and bring it to the mobile phone in the form of a software robot.

The "robot" would be something like a 3D avatar that would adjust itself to the characteristics of the cell phone owner.


emily | 9:25 AM | permalink

Phoney Banking. The Unbanked. The Economist on mobile telephony and banking"

theunbanked.jpgMost South Africans do not have bank accounts. But most do have mobile phones,” writes The Economist today in a story about mobile telephony and banking with a particular focus on Africa. [via putting people first].

"In most of Africa, meanwhile, only a fraction of people have bank accounts—but there is huge demand for cheap and convenient ways to send money and buy prepaid services such as airtime. Many Africans, having skipped landlines and jumped to mobiles, already use prepaid airtime as a way of transferring money. They could now leap from a world of cash to cellular banking.

... South Africa is not the first place to use mobile-phone banking: countries such as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines have had it for a while. But the potential is probably bigger in the developing world, and in countries in which migrants remit money to their families in relatively poor homelands."

Life is now easier for Andile Mbatha, who owns a hair salon in Soweto. Gone are his days of trekking to his bank, which could take two hours by minibus, to send money to relatives. Nor does he keep piles of cash in his salon any more. Last year, he opened a bank account with WIZZIT, an innovative provider of financial services. He now sends money to his sister in Cape Town whenever he wants, from wherever he wants, using a simple menu on his mobile phone. Half his customers no longer pay cash for their haircuts. They use their phones to move money from their accounts to his, in a few seconds. “This has taken out a lot of stress,” says Mr Mbatha.

See CNN video coverage explaining the Unbanked"and how WIZZIT works.

emily | 9:04 AM | permalink

Mini me cell phone straps

cell cell strap.jpg cell2.jpg

Cell phone straps are made to look exactly like your cell phone: Twenty perfect replicas of Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Sanyo, or Casio handsets. [via Tokyomanga]

emily | 9:04 AM | permalink

Satiric SMS or libel? Writing political poetry in Chongqing

A man from Chongqing (China) is facing three years in prison for writing a satirical poem and sending it to friends via SMS and I.M., according to Danwei.

"In mid-August, reports Southern Weekly, Qin Zhongfei wrote a few lines of poetry satirizing local leaders and a few public works boondoggles. Thinking it fairly amusing, Qin sent it off to "10-15 friends" via SMS and another "4-6 friends" via QQ instant message service. He was arrested for his troubles, since officials felt that the poem could cause social unrest and might harm business for Pengshui if too many people got wind of it.

... If the charges are upheld, Qin Zhongfei may face a sentence of up to 3 years." [via Smart Mobs

emily | 9:00 AM | permalink

The Philippines and SMS

tctphlp.gif "The Philippines has become the first country in the world where mobile users spend more on data services than on voice, according to a leading research company," reports The Guardian via Smart Mobs.

"The average data revenue per subscription in the Philippines now stands at $3.90 (£2.08) a month, compared with $3.50 a month for voice - meaning that data accounts for 53% of the total.

The main reason for the Philippines figures is that texting is very cheap compared to voice calls, so subscribers use texts as their main means of communication and their spending on voice calls is very low. A text costs only about 1 peso (1.1p) compared to about 20 pesos per minute for prepaid voice calls."

The Philippines, the first country in the world to use text messaging to topple a former president, is often referred to as "the texting capital of the world" because texting was free in the between 1994 and 2000 because operators' billing systems were unable to charge prepaid users for this service."

emily | 8:39 AM | permalink

October 26, 2006

Cellphones Make Goldfish Do Flips

According to Undeniable Facts with 10 cell phones, you can make goldfish do flips. [via Digg]

There's even a video to prove it.

fishflip.jpg

emily | 1:54 PM | permalink

SMS crime initiative to alert retailers

An SMS instant alert to retailing staff when a high-level crime is occurring in their vicinity is one of the latest initiatives of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa's Crime Prevention Programme, reports Cape Times.

"The crime alert SMS messages will be forwarded to chief executives of major store groups, store managers, area managers as well as (police) and individuals with a vested interest in crime prevention".

emily | 1:18 PM | permalink

Questions to Putin by SMS

On October 25, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin held his annual nationally televised, question-and-answer broadcast in the Russian city of Irkutsk, reports a Regnum correspondent.

"The organizers received 25 text messages with questions. Three managed to ask Putin 3 questions live. The questions concerned aviation, land issues and timber industry.

A previous article mentions that "more than 1,5mln of questions for the president were asked by phone (presumably voice calls) and received via the internet."

emily | 8:05 AM | permalink

October 25, 2006

Chicken Soup for your Cell Phone

MazelMobile aims to make your cell phone “more Jewish”.

Jewswire.com via YetNews reported that MazelMobile sends subscribers a daily text message containing important Jewish dates, Jewish humor, wisdom and information directly to their cell phones.

The service also gives users access to a range of Jewish background wallpapers, logos and ringtones.

... In line with its commitment to community building, the company gives $1 per subscriber back to Jewish organizations that resell its services via their affiliate program."

Not nearly as funny as YentaTones - by my books - or as serious as The Kosher Phone.

emily | 6:51 PM | permalink

Out of Africa. Sente, Relay and Step Messaging

sente.jpg The first instalment of Upwardly Mobile is about the Sente mobile payment system popular in Africa and Relay text messaging - documented by Nokia's Jan Chipchase. Also described below, an informal service coined Step messaging.

Upwardly Mobile is a new column from silicon.com senior reporter Jo Best, covering mobile and wireless innovations from around the world - and what they mean to the UK.

- Sente mobile payment system -

"Jan Chipchase came across Sente in Uganda - a way of sending money from one individual to another.

"The money sender buys a mobile top-up voucher from their local seller. Only they don't top up their mobile, they top up that of their local village middleman, say, with $5-worth of credit. The middleman takes out his commission and passes on what's left on the top up as cash to Person A's friend, relative, creditor, whoever, in another village somewhere else in Uganda.

So what does the middleman do with all this top up on his phone? He sells it on. He becomes a very small-scale telco in his own right, puts his mobile in a little kiosk - a phone box, if you will - and charges people to use it on a per minute basis."

- Relay text messaging -

"Relay text messaging can be seen in South Africa and Uganda - whereby texts sent to a village phone are delivered to an individual in the community by a runner".

- Step messaging -

Also part of Jan Chipchase's presentation, "step messaging, the name given to an informal service offered by village kiosk operators and mobile phone owners to deliver messages ‘the last mile’ on foot.

You may not have a mobile phone but there is a common understanding that you can leave a message with the person in the village who does and that message will be passed on. It’s a simple example of extending the culture of connectivity to people who are not yet connected."

... "Each of the above represents a simple, necessary idea sprung from the fertile mind of some user who wanted to do something with a mobile that their operator hadn't provided yet."

Above picture is taken from a Power Point presentation from Jan Chipchase blog's Future perfect Archives

emily | 1:08 PM | permalink

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