Archives for October 2009

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October 30, 2009

Google adds free GPS to cellphones

Internet giant Google unveiled a free navigation system for cellphones on Wednesday in a move seen as a potential challenge to the makers of standalone GPS navigation devices.

[via IOL]

emily | 10:24 AM | permalink

October 29, 2009

Using a Cellphone Number to Pay for Goods Online

zonglogo.png hdr_obopay_logo.jpg

Two online payment start-ups, Zong and Obopay announced this week that customers can now link their credit or debit card numbers to their cellphone numbers on Zong and Obopay’s Web sites. Bits Blog reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThen, when they are shopping for digital goods on certain Web sites, they simply need to enter their 10-digit phone number to buy something instead of being re-directed to a separate Web page and entering extensive credit card information.

... Eventually, they hope to have enough customers to convince merchants that people want to use their cellphone numbers to pay for real goods. Then, the idea goes, Zong or Obopay could be a payment option on e-commerce sites, just like using a credit card or PayPal is today.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 6:16 PM | permalink

Egypt launches code ethics for mobile phones

According to the BBC, Egypt's official telecoms regulatory body has launched a code of ethics for the use of mobile phones.

quotemarksright.jpgThe 16-point guide includes advice about when to switch phones off and warns against annoying others with ringtones and loud conversations.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 6:09 PM | permalink

cover_newyorker_190.jpg MadMenHallowwen.jpg

Left, this week's cover of The New Yorker with texting parents supervising their children's trick or treating. Right, the way it was. A picture of different era, via Mad Men.

[via Pocket-Lint]

emily | 5:25 PM | permalink

Ethiopia. Testing carbon offset with mobile phones

flower_farm_ethiopia032409.jpg Small farmers near Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, are testing a carbon offset market facilitated by mobile phones. Green.Inc reports

quotemarksright.jpgMr. Pohjonen’s son Matti, a Fellow in Digital Culture at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, has been overseeing the technology end of the project.

“The standard function of a mobile phone is talking and texting,” Veli Pohjonen and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs said. But it can also be used, he added, to access the Internet and run queries regarding carbon prices or exchange rates.

Veli Pohjonen and his son Matt have been testing the system on eight farms in the country’s central highlands, where the average farmer is earning approximately 1000 Birr, or $80, every six months from their carbon offsets. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image from EthioBlog.

emily | 9:45 AM | permalink

Americans send 740 billion text messages in first half of 2009

In the U.S. alone, 740 billion text messages were sent in the first half of this year - an average of 4.1 billion per day.

[via BizReport]

emily | 8:37 AM | permalink

October 27, 2009

Shoppers spent $400 million with eBay's iPhone app

ebayiphoneapp.jpg Some numbers that will blow your socks off.

According to the Financial Times, shoppers have spent more than $400m on eBay using eBay’s iPhone app.

quotemarksright.jpgMore than 4.6m people have downloaded the eBay app, using it to buy not just books and clothes, but also a Lamborghini, a $150,000 boat, and a Bentley.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via TechCrunch]

emily | 7:39 PM | permalink

Food vouchers on cellphones

i.jpg The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an electronic food voucher pilot project to aid 1,000 Iraqi refugee families in Syria.

Iraqi refugees living in Damascus will receive a text message on their mobiles providing a code enabling them to cash in all or part of the “virtual voucher” at selected government shops. They will be able to exchange their electronic vouchers for rice, wheat flour, lentils, chickpeas, oil and canned fish, as well as cheese and eggs -- items that cannot usually be included in conventional aid baskets.

Each family will receive one voucher per person, worth US$22 every two months. After each transaction, families will receive an updated balance, also sent by SMS to their mobile numbers.

Addressing concerns about mobile phone ownership among the refugee population, WFP spokesperson Emilia Casella told News24 "that all the 130'000 Iraqi refugees currently receiving food aid from the agency in Syria have mobile phones".

"We're currently providing news about distributions on mobile phone messages to the 130 000 caseload right now," she said.

Full WFP press release via News24. Image from Amnesty International Blogs.

In their press release, the WFP claims this voucher program is a world first. But I know of one online store catering to Kenyans and Ugandans who have re-located abroad, called Mama Mikes, allowing them to purchase mobile vouchers redeemable by their families' back home, to pay for groceries, electricity bills and cell phone minutes.

emily | 4:08 PM | permalink

SMS has Major Role to Play for Swine Flu Vaccination

Because of a Royal Mail strike in the UK, chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson has warned that thousands of people could miss appointments for their swine flu vaccine due to these postal strikes.

In response the Department of Health is now actively encouraging GPs and hospitals to use text messaging to reach patients.

[via eHealthNews]

emily | 3:52 PM | permalink

Stadium text-messaging campaign nets $8,550

You read about fund raising campaigns by text messaging, but it's not often you that you get actual feedback on what they brought in.

ABC's2The Advocate reports that following a plea to Tiger fans - made during a timeout on Saturday - to make a $5 donation by sending a text message, raised $8,550 from more than 2,558 text messages sent (which were added to the sender’s mobile phone bill or deducted from a prepaid balance).

emily | 3:38 PM | permalink

The new Eight ball: David Hasselhoff's iPhone app

aksthehoff.jpg Following his hit TV series Meet The Hasselhoffs, David Hasselhoff has launched an iphone app called Ask The Hoff.

Turn up the volume, ask a question and shake your iPhone and David Hasselhoff will give you an answer.

Why bother? is the only question that comes to my mind.

emily | 3:26 PM | permalink

Google relaxes single phone number requirement for Voice

Google has decided to relax the requirement that all calls must come in via the Google number, and is making available a range of features under its voicemail service to calls made directly to users' cell phones.

Read full article in Infoworld.

emily | 3:16 PM | permalink

Franchises should consider using SMS messaging

BulkSMSlogo.jpg SMS messaging offers franchise operations the opportunity to send out individual or group messages in a few seconds and deliver these messages to the cellphones of a targeted list of contacts. With a bulk SMS costing less than a standard SMS, communications can be done in an affordable way.

“SMS messaging is growing as an accepted business communications tool in South Africa. Franchises are well placed to take advantage of this mobile channel,” says Dr Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com, a global mobile messaging provider headquartered in Cape Town.

Sending messages to one or many contact’s cellphones ensures that you can keep customers, supplier, staff and business partners in the loop with relevant and up-to-date information about a business process (such as a delivery), products and services.

There are three ways that SMS messaging can enhance business communications within a franchise operation: it provides a specific channel for the franchisor to send notifications to the franchisee; it increases operational efficiencies; and it can be used to market products and services to customers.

Enabling better inter-franchise communications

Franchisors can use SMS to alert or notify branches of new sales and training opportunities or simply keep franchisees up to date on matters relating to the franchise.

· A restaurant franchise may send an SMS to all restaurant owners notifying them to check their email for new recipes, updated menu items, or promotions.

· A courier operation uses SMS to keep all franchisees up to date on transport problems that may affect the delivery of items.

Increasing business efficiencies within franchise operation

One area where SMS messaging is providing value for businesses is in increasing internal operational efficiencies. This translates into better service levels, happier customers, and cost savings for the franchise.

· A printing business sends messages to their clients when printed goods are ready for collection.

· A car repair specialist sends an SMS a customer updating on progress with repairs or when the vehicle will be ready for collection.

· A courier service offers an SMS alert to the sender to track the progress or delivery of a parcel.

· A plumbing or gardening service confirms appointments with customers.

· A childcare service reminds parents about when fees are due, inform parents when their child is ill, or when the school will be closing for the holidays.

Effectively marketing products and services

An area where SMS messaging is on the rise is mobile marketing - the sending of marketing messages about products and services directly to customers’ cellphones.

Franchises need to bear in mind that they only contact customers that have explicitly requested marketing communications in the form of an SMS. In upholding consumer privacy, it is best to adhere to the hard opt-in rule when adding a number to a database. This means customers confirm that they agree to receive commercial messages on their cellphone at the point of sale or through a promotional campaign.

There are many types of mobile marketing campaigns that use bulk messaging to alert customers to specials or promotions:

· A gourmet food company uses bulk messaging to alert food-lovers about new recipes or food promotions.

· A dieting company keeps customers motivated by subscribing them to a health tip sent weekly to their cellphone.

· A travel agency sends out reminders to their customers about promotions on new holiday destinations and tours.

Weekly in October, Textually will be promoting BulkSMS, a company providing solutions to send and receive single and bulk SMS messages using the Internet, covering 700 networks globally.

emily | 3:14 PM | permalink

Cell Phone May Reduce Bone Density in Hips

Bucket-Boss-54000-rw-8175-104.jpg Of all the ills cell phones are blamed for, we've never heard this one before: Wearing a cell phone on your hip may reduce bone density in an area of the pelvis commonly used for bone grafts. HealthDay News reports.

A new study by Turkish researchers, published in the September issue of the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, suggests that "electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones may have a harmful effect on bone density".

Image left:Cell Phone Holster above from PlumberPlus.

emily | 9:39 AM | permalink

7,000 fines issued in NY City daylong crackdown on cellphones and driving

Last Thursday, in a daylong crackdown, The New York City Police Department issued 7,529 fines - which are normally $130 - to drivers caught talking on their cellphone while at the wheel.

This is actually an improvement and 1,500 fewer than were written on the first crackdown day in May. However, it was about 100 more than were written on a similar day in August.

[CityRoom]

emily | 9:32 AM | permalink

Twitter 'costs businesses £1.4bn'

Staff who use Twitter and other social networking sites while at work are costing UK businesses £1.38bn ($2.25bn) every year, a report has said, according to the BBC.

emily | 9:23 AM | permalink

iPhone App Store Reaches 100,000 Apps

No official announcement from Apple yet, but according to UnwiredView.com, the number of apps that have been approved for use in the App Store have surpassed 100,000.

emily | 8:59 AM | permalink

Mobile Phones allowed in Naypyidaw

_42731983_parade_afpsquare416.jpg Myanmar's government is reported to have permitted mobile phones to be used in its new capital, Naypyidaw. [via Cellular News]

quotemarksright.jpgPhones, which are already highly restricted were banned in the new capital city for security reasons.

... Government and military contacts tend to find it easier to get the paperwork to own a mobile phone - but often then rent out those phones to business users.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Related:

-- International Text Messaging Approved in Burma (2008)

-- Myanmar cuts phone service to activists, journalists (2007)

-- Myanmar. The lowest cell phone penetration rate (2005)

-- Military ruled Burma has few cellphones (2005)

-- Burma allows SMS but all messages go through censor
(2005)

Picture from the BBC.

emily | 8:46 AM | permalink

SMS to check on stolen second-hand mobile phones

This sounds like a really useful service offered by the Singapore Police. As of today, buyers of second-hand phones are able to send a text message to check if they are stolen. Channel News Asia reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe system uses each mobile phone's unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number to identify mobile phones which have been reported stolen. quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 8:06 AM | permalink

October 26, 2009

Cell-All Could Put Chemical Sensors Everywhere

New technology that would add chemical sensing capabilities to cell phones has been developed by three researchers as first-generation laboratory prototypes that will be demonstrated at the San Diego State University Regional Technology Center on Tuesday October 27. OH&S reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThis program, named Cell-All, "is designed to provide greater detection capabilities in areas where people congregate," according to the announcement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. "The concept allows for chemical agent detectors to ultimately be everywhere where there are cellular telephones.

At the option of the cell phone owner, the GPS in the phone could provide sensor location information to emergency operation centers. While still years from implementation, researchers are working on the proof of concept before attempting full-scale miniaturization. This demonstration will provide a look at the state of the science to date."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Related:

-- Radiation detectors in your cell phone (2008) - Purdue University is developing sensors which fit inside a cell phone that can detect radiation, and thus perhaps stop the detonation of a nuclear bomb by terrorists is a bit outlandish to my way of thinking.

-- Saving the World With Cell Phones (2005) - As cell phones evolve to include souped-up games, streaming video and MP3 players, some University of California at Berkeley professors and graduate students want to slip a pollution detector into the mix.

-- Phones that detect terrorist attacks (2003) - A newly opened research center at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA is developing a cell phone that can also detect "dirty bombs" by containing detectors that then upload their information to a central database.

-- PCell phone could warn of gas leaks (2003) - A mobile phone able to warn against fire, leakage of methane or other types of toxic gas has been submitted to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for patent.

-- 2003: Cell Phones - For so much more than just talking ... And down the road, research is working on cell phones which can warn of gas leaks (thanks to sensors that verify changes in the atmosphere) and cell phones that will be able to warn about the presence of bacteria and viruses (thanks to bio-sensors) or detect dirty bombs (thanks to detectors that can upload information to a central database).


emily | 10:23 AM | permalink

Apple iPhone Costumes that actually work

iphonecostumes.jpg

Spotted on Gizmodo, iPhone costumes for Halloween that work.

More cellphone halloween costumes.

emily | 8:52 AM | permalink

October 25, 2009

Winning "Come Clean 4 Congo" Video


Back in May, YouTube asked their readers to make videos demonstrating the connection between the "conflict minerals" used in cell phones and the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Matt's winning video, voted #1 by the YouTube community, used spoken word to take a far-away, complex issue and make it understandable and compelling. [via YouTube Blog]

quotemarksright.jpg... The Enough Project saw the connection between the minerals that are mined in the Congo and used in our cell phones, and wanted to use that connection to bring this issue home to people living in the U.S. Thanks too to all the YouTube users who made videos to raise awareness of this issue. If you'd like to learn more about what you can do to help, go to the Enough Project's website.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Related:

-- Stop Texting, to Save Lives in Africa

-- Coltan and Your Mobile: A M0pocket Repentance And Mobile Community Call To Action

-- Recycled phones and "blood Tantalum"

emily | 4:46 PM | permalink

Japan debut for mobile fuel cell

_46596045_cell-toshiba226.jpg An alternative to batteries that uses methanol and water to recharge gadgets is to go on sale in Japan, according to the BBC.

quotemarksright.jpgThe Dynario fuel cell Made by Toshiba can triple the battery life of portable gadgets such as mobile phones and music players.

Toshiba said the cell was ready to power gadgets about 20 seconds after it was fuelled with methanol. It estimated that each fill up produces enough power to recharge two mobile phones. Power is transferred via a USB cable.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article and Toshiba news release.

emily | 10:38 AM | permalink

Long-term use of mobile phones 'may be linked to cancer'

A £20million ($33million), decade-long investigation overseen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will publish evidence that heavy users face a higher risk of developing brain tumours later in life, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

quotemarksright.jpgThe conclusion (of the Interphone studies) while not definitive, will undermine assurances from the government that the devices are safe and is expected to put ministers under pressure to issue stronger guidance.

A preliminary breakdown of the results found a “significantly increased risk” of some brain tumours “related to use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more” in some studies.

The head of the Interphone investigation said that the report would include a “public health message”. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 10:11 AM | permalink

Verizon’s new ad campaign: ‘Don’t Text and Drive’

“Don’t Text and Drive.” Verizon's latest advertising campaign aimed at drivers' safety. [via IntoMobile]

quotemarksright.jpgThe new ad campaign will blitz television, radio, print, online, billboards and non-traditional media with words of wisdom from the first US wireless carrier to back legislation that required drivers to use hands-free mobile phone solutions when driving.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 9:43 AM | permalink

October 23, 2009

Still No Internet or SMS Allowed in China's Muslim Region

Nearly four months after deadly ethnic riots in China's Muslim region led authorities to shut off the Internet there, local residents are still barred from sending text messages and getting online, reports PC World.

quotemarksright.jpgThe clampdown on telecommunication in China's western Xinjiang province, where rioting claimed nearly 200 lives in early July.

The rioting between Uighurs, a mostly Muslim minority group native to Xinjiang, and Chinese Han, the country's ethnic majority, also led China to block various social networking Web sites nationwide. Twitter, similar Chinese services and Facebook all remain inaccessible in the country. quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 4:08 PM | permalink

25 Insane iPhone And Gadget Costumes

iphone_costume.jpg

Spotted on ismashphone, 25 insane iPhone and gadget costumes.

emily | 3:49 PM | permalink

Australia. Text spammers fined $16m

The Federal Court of Brisbane has fined two companies and three individuals almost $16 million for breaches of the Spam Act. ABC reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIt follows the first ever court action taken against those sending unwanted text messages.

The case was brought by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

A further hearing is scheduled to commence in November against three others accused of similar conduct.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 3:43 PM | permalink

Vodafone Symphonia played on 1000 phones with 53 different ringtones

Vodafone NZ hired a production team to orchestrate cellphones into “playing” Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture. The effort took 1000 phones and 53 different ringtone alerts, synchronized to recreate the famous classical piece. [via Mashable]

Watch the video of the performance as well as the making-of in two parts (part 1, part 2)

Not a first though, a collection gathered by American composer Golan Levin initiated the first original «Dialtones Symphony», where the 200 instruments played were the audience's ringing cell phones. The first concert took place on September 2nd, 2001, at the Brucknerhaus Auditorium in Linz, Austria during the Ars Electronica's annual festival. Golan Levin performed his symphony again in the summer of 2002, at the Arteplage Mobile de Jura as a production of the Swiss National Exposition. (Ringtonia)

More on cell phone and ringtones concerts/symphonies.

emily | 3:39 PM | permalink

Australia. Text spammers fined $16m

The Federal Court of Brisbane has fined two companies and three individuals almost $16 million for breaches of the Spam Act. ABC reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIt follows the first ever court action taken against those sending unwanted text messages.

The case was brought by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

A further hearing is scheduled to commence in November against three others accused of similar conduct.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 3:03 PM | permalink

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