Archives for December 2006
December 21, 2006
The Inquirer has written a funny post on new security software called Mnemonic Guard for smartphones, which replaces passwords with pictures. The Inquirer's slant is that it's for "the stupid people". Hey, I think it's a great idea! If remembering a sequence of pics is really easier.
"Japanese software developer Mnemonic Security recognised that increasingly people are too thick to remember a four digit security codes. So now it’s invented a picture security code.
... Mnemonic Guard replaces alphanumeric passwords with "pass-symbols", a series of pictures or illustrated images that are easy for the user to remember".
Infoworld, reports that Samsung has developed a cell phone capable of receiving a new real-time traffic information system that is already in use in some countries.
"The company's new SPH-B5800 handset can receive and decode the information broadcast using the Transport Protocol Experts Group (TPEG) format."
Shopping helper NearbyNow just began offering shoppers at three malls in California and one in Arizona a chance to check merchandise availability at most of the malls' stores by sending text messages from their cell phones.
A similar service called Slifter, from GPShopper, focuses on the availability of electronics and toys at big chains, like Best Buy and Staples.
Other companies, including Google, are building networks to help shoppers figure out what's at local stores before they get there. [via MediaPostPublications]
Jan Chipchase's current report on future perferct, co-authored with Indri Tulusan, is on mobile phone sharing -- an important socio-technical practice, especially in the developing world. [via Smart Mobs]
"Much of the growth in the telecommunications industry is coming from emerging markets - places like India and Africa and for many new consumers their first mobile phone experience is a shared one.
This essay uses the term sharing in the sense of primary usage orientated around borrowing and lending rather than 'let me show you the photos I took at last night's party'.
Mobile phone sharing is not just limited to personal use - from the streets of Cairo to Kampala kiosks are springing up with little more than a mobile phone and a sign advertising call rates.
What happens when people share an object that is inherently designed for personal use? And based on how and why people share in what ways can devices and services be redesigned to optimise the shared user experiences? Indeed, should they be re-designed?
A summary of this essay appears here.
December 20, 2006
Verizon Wireless subscribers will be able to "sign-up" for Santa Tracker mobile alerts as to Santa's whereabouts on Christmas Eve.
Pre-Christmas Day text-based programs will include comments from Santa in response to submission of whether the sender has been "Naughty or Nice" this year, a polling program to determine "Favourite Reindeer," which returns Christmas fun facts, and an associated WAP site which is chock-a-block with Christmas fun.
Visitors to the web site www.geolistings.com/santa - may also download exclusive mobile holiday ringtones and mobile/PC wallpapers.
Starting on January 8th 2007 and ending on Febuary 12th 2007, a total of ten Nokia 8800 Sirocco Brian Eno Signature Edition mobile phones, individually numbered and engraved with Brian Eno's signature, will be auctioned online with all proceeds going directly to both charities.
To place a bid on one of these rare collector's items or to learn more about this joint charity project between Nokia and Brian Eno, please visit www.nokiacharityauction.com.
"All three designs focus on using the natural movements of the user to automatically recharge the phones:
-- The YoYo (right) - is meant to be worn around the neck. It draws energy from the bounces and swings created by the user and can also draw additional power from the built-in solar cell
-- The U-Turn (middle) is a business phone that draws energy from the opening and closing of the keyboard.
-- The Runaway (left) is a sports phone that draws energy from movements during exercise."
DailyIndia.com reports that Sriprakash Jaiswal, the Indian Minister of State, said that action was being taken to check use of mobile phones by militants based in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir for communication with their cadres operating on the Indian side.
December 19, 2006
Samsung Electronics is launching a mobile phone featuring an optical joystick for a whole new mobile experience, reports HuliQ.com.
"Samsung 's latest ‘Optical Joystick' Phone (Model: SCH-V960 ) is suited technology that may revolutionize the way users interact with the menu and user interface of mobile handsets.
Users utilize the optical joystick key by placing their finger and moving a cursor to navigate through the menu, similar to a cursor of a mouse on a PC.
Optical sensors will read and react to users' finger movement, thus breaking down the traditional four-way menu navigation and providing 360 degrees of freedom. "
The Chinese government - in what sounds like a perfectly good idea - is to set a single national standard on mobile phone chargers sold in the country to avoid waste and to lower costs, the Ministry of Information Industry has announced. [via People's Daily Online]
"Under the new standard, cell phone manufactureers are expected to change their sales strategy, putting an end to the package sales of cell phones and chargers to save resources.
Lou Peide, executive secretary general with China Mobile Communications Association, estimated the new standard could save nearly $ 306 million each year for handsets made in China."
Thanks to Philippine wireless telecommunications giant Smart Communications, the system of using text messages to transfer cash now delivers at least $50 million a month to families in the Philippines, according to Washington-based lender International Finance Corp , reports The Mercury News
"The Philippines was an obvious place for the evolution to occur, given the huge popularity of text messaging there and the large numbers of people who receive regular remittances from abroad. According to bank data, nearly 8 million Filipinos in more than 100 countries sent nearly $100 billion home over the past 30 years.
... While convenient and inexpensive, text-message money-transfer systems have come under scrutiny as possible conduits of cash for terrorists. ... But Vicente Aquino, executive director of the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council, said the text-message transfer technology complies with rules against money laundering because "it tracks the sender and the recipients.'
"The microphone and earpiece cavities in a cellphone make a warm and comfy breeding ground for bacteria. Squirting germicide into the holes can damage the electronics but now Motorola has a better way to kill bugs.
Motorola patented a phone containing an LED that radiates ultra-violet light with a wavelength of 250 nanometres which is particularly lethal to bacteria. Optical guides inside the phone body steer the UV light into the cavities. Sanitising only takes around 3 minutes, the company claims.
Related: - Bacterial Paranoia And Device Handling
Mobile phones are the biggest reason behind cheating Japanese husbands getting caught reports the
"Of the cheating salarymen, 35.8 percent had seen their extramarital affairs exposed, with mobile phones being the reason in 22.5 percent of cases."
Related articles from around the world:
-- SMS as evidence in divorce court (Poland)
-- Texting sparks affairs (UK)
-- Cell phones exposing more cheating spouses (Singapore)
During the recent Presidential Election in Venezuela nearly 8 million voters used SMS to find their polling station, reports 160characters.org.
"The SMS application to handle enquiries from the 16 million registered voters to know which was their voting center was used by 7.8 million voters. The Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) also used SMS to tell with the 350,000 electoral witnesses where and when they should receive their training.
The text in number was widely promoted by TV, broadcast radio and newspapers. ... The CNE is planing to keep the service operating permanently as a new comunication way in adition to their web site and freephone line."
The Telegraph reports that blind residents of Turin have been equipped with GPS trackers so that they can be directed around the northern Italian city by satellite.
" When wearing the device, a blind user can be tracked by call-centre workers on a map of the city. If he needs help, he can press a special button on a mobile phone to ring in and be guided towards his destination.
Another button can alert staff in case of an attack, or another emergency. The trial scheme, named B>Easy Walk, started last week.
The service runs 24 hours a day and can work across Italy and even France."
December 18, 2006
The casing of this cell phone lights up with snowflakes whenever someone calls. Available only in Japan, in a variety of different colors and patterns. It is one of the Beauty x Beauty series of handsets from the Japanese manufacturer AU, according to Mobile Weblog.
Japan today launched one of the world`s largest geostationary satellites in a bid to improve mobile telephone reception in remote areas, according to ZeeNews.
"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the H-2A rocket at 3:32 pm (12:02 IST). The experimental satellite, which is known as Kiku Number 8, is the largest built by Japan`s space agency. It weighs 5.8 tons and is 40 meters (131 feet) long.
... Kiku Number 8`s antennas, among the longest ever developed for a satellite, are its key attribute, an agency statement said.
"This function is expected to be very useful in our daily lives, for example in some mountainous areas and at sea where no ground stations are available," the statement said.
Some interesting numbers from The Boston Globe.
-- In the US, the fastest growing group of text messagers is adults. Between September 2005 and September 2006, the number of text-message users from age 45 to 64 grew about seven times as fast as among teenagers under 18.
-- Telephia , a consumer research firm, found that among Cingular users, women in their 40s are the fastest growing text message demographic and fourth largest group.
-- Among 1,175 parents, nearly half said their children introduced them to text messaging, and 63 percent said it had improved communication with their child.
-- Data services such as text messaging account for roughly 10 percent of all wireless carriers' revenue.
This Solar Mobile Phone Charger has obviously been designed with women in mind it's so pretty.
Works with Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, SonyEricsson phones and MP3/MP4 players.
The Korea Times reports that KTF, Korea’s second-largest wireless operator, has started to offer educational content to help students study for theTOEIC or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exams.
TOEIC (or TOEFL) is the most common English ability test in Korea with about 1.9 million taking test every year.
Video footage on essay exams will also be available.
While most U.S. cities are blanketed with advanced cell phone service at least four times over, huge patches of rural America still don't have cell phone coverage. News.com reports.
"Cell phone operators have made tremendous strides in their network deployments, providing more than 90 percent of the more than 220 million cell phone subscribers in the U.S. with digital service, according to the CTIA, an industry trade group. But economic realities have meant that some remote areas of the country that have only analog service today may not have any service until carriers can fully upgrade their networks to digital technology.
... Concerns about this issue have become increasingly acute because Americans are relying more than ever on their cell phones."
"For an additional $2.99 per month, customers will be able to upload photos taken on cellphones, read and respond to MySpace e-mails, update blog entries and view and search for friends from their handsets."
December 17, 2006
The head of the UK Crown Prosecution Service, Ken Macdonald, is floating the idea of throwing motorists who use cell phones in jail. The TheNewspaper reports.
"The idea would be to apply the charge of "dangerous driving" to anyone talking on the phone behind the wheel because it carries large fines and up to two years in jail.
The current penalty is just £30 (US $58) or up to £1000 (US $1950) if the motorist attempts to defend himself in court."
According to The Observer, Google has held talks with mobile phone operator Orange about a multi-billion-dollar partnership to create a 'Google phone' which makes it easy to search the web wherever you are. [via GigaOM]
"Their plans centre on a branded Google phone, which would probably also carry Orange's logo. The device would not be revolutionary: manufactured by HTC, a Taiwanese firm specialising in smart phones and Personal Data Assistants (PDAs), it might have a screen similar to a video iPod. But it would have built-in Google software which would dramatically improve on the slow and cumbersome experience of surfing the web from a mobile handset.
... Among the potential benefits are location-based searches: aware of your handset's geographical position, Google could offer a tailored list of local cinemas, restaurants and other amenities, and maps and images from Google Earth. It is believed that the Google phone would not go on sale before 2008."
More from Time Magazine on user generated content.
"Americans have decided the most important person in their lives is ... them, and our culture is now built upon that idea. It's the User-Generated Generation.
... The assumption is that an audience of strangers will be somehow interested, or at the very worst not offended. Intimacies that were once whispered into the phone are now announced unabashedly into cell phones as loud running conversations in public places. Diaries once sealed under lock and key are now called blogs and posted daily for all those who care to make the emotional investment.
... The danger just might be that we miss the next great book or the next great idea, or that we fail to meet the next great challenge ... because we are too busy celebrating ourselves and listening to the same tune we already know by heart." Hear hear.
Related: - 'You' named Time's person of 2006
This is a picture from the “A-Life” cell phone performance last October at the Architecture and Situated Technologies event that happened at Eyebeam in NYC.
Basically we created an a-life simulation by getting the audience to turn on and off their cell phone screens based on the state of the person’s phone standing beside them (left, right, front, and back).