Peanut farmers in India are helping to design a text-messaging app called EasySMS that could aid the many millions who can't read or write. MIT Technology Review reports.
... Computer scientist Hendrik Knoche at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) designed the new smart-phone interface for the farmers together with P.R. Sheshagiri Rao, a farmer in CK Pura who once worked as an agricultural scientist elsewhere in India.
Back in Lausanne, Knoche challenged his students to design a text-messaging application for illiterate users of touch-screen phones. The result, easySMS, lets users compose their own messages by highlighting single words from incoming messages, playing them aloud, and copying and pasting them into new messages. The application also contains a small dictionary of common words and phrases.
EasySMS app enables illiterate people to read, compose and send text messages - During the course of a mobile interaction design class in 2011 at Lausanne Switzerland's EPFL, students had to come up with an idea for - and design an application on mobile phones - to improve the livelihoods of people living in rural communities in developing countries.
Here is one of their projects: EasySMS which enables illiterate people to read, compose and send text messages. Read full article.
A smart collar which closely monitors the health of cows and sends the results back to farmers using mobile phone technology is being developed as part of a three-year-project co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board. Farming UK reports.
The equipment involves each cow wearing an intelligent collar that picks up on subtle movements with the same sensor used in Wii gaming and generates a continuous record of their activity patterns.
Results will then be sent back using a range of wireless technologies like 3G, with a full update accessible via a hub or even through a mobile phone. It is envisaged that farmers can set up alerts for their phone to receive a text when a cow is in distress, coming in to heat or entering labour.
According to TNW, if you reside in the UK and you are one of the millions of subscribers to mobile operator O2, you may be alarmed to learn that the carrier is sending your mobile number to every website you visit on your mobile phone.
It upheld a judge’s decision, made in July, that some of HTC’s devices that use Google’s Android operating system infringe a patent owned by Apple, creator of the iPhone, but reversed his verdict that another patent had been violated.
The offending handsets may not longer be imported into the United States after April 19th next year. Not only is the ruling plainly unwelcome for HTC, but it illustrates how important an American trade agency has become as an arbiter of disputes that, at first blush, have little to do with international trade.
HTC sells around 40% of its smartphones in North America, nearly all of them using Android. A ban on some of its Android phones is thus a blow, although it or Google may find a way of working around the patent.
... Apple’s victory is only the latest episode in a fierce war in which just about everyone you can think of seems to be suing just about everyone else for patent infringement.
Virginia Tech’s response in alerting the university community is much more swift than it was in April 2007, the day a student opened fire on his peers, killing 32 and then himself. In 2007, the university did not send out an alert until two hours after the first shots were fired. On Thursday, the response time was only seven minutes.
Information about wanted fugitives in Northeast Ohio can now be texted anomymously to the U.S. Marshals Service. Tips can also be submitted on the Internet.
The text messaging option is in addition to the U.S. Marshals fugitive hotline number, 1-866-4-WANTED. In both methods, tipsters can remain anonymous and still qualify for reward money from the U.S. Marshal's Service.
To fight against ethnic profiling practiced by the French police, a group called Open Society Justice Initiative is encouraging victimes to send an SMS each time they are pulled over in order to create a database and ultimately change the Code of Criminal Procedure's article 78.2.
The majority of stops are carried out under Article 78 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) which permits four types of identity checks. A check under Article 78-2(1) allows police to stop an individual who they have reason to suspect of having committed a crime or of preparing to do so, or who can provide help to the police. Under Article 78-2(2), a prosecutor is allowed to determine specific places and times where police can stop anyone without any need for suspicion. Article 78-2(3) allows for ID stops where the police believe there is a risk to public order, and Article 78-2(4) allows the police to conduct ID stops in any airport, rail station or other transport site, both also without any need for suspicion.
Research over the years has demonstrated that these provisions allow too much scope for the police to stop people arbitrarily, allowing for discriminatory checks—ethnic profiling—which stigmatizes migrant and other visible minority communities, perpetuates stereotypes, and is an ineffective and counterproductive policing method.
EU MEP Tiziano Motti (Italy), wants everything you do online to be logged and saved, for the sake of the children. Like a black box installed on every computer. He proposes an early warning system of criminal activity, specifically whenever an image of sexually abused children is detected, an alarm, goes to the authorities to be able to see who uploaded it. activepolitical.com reports.
His proposal involves a technology called Logbox. And just as with an aircraft's black box, Logbox is installed on computers, laptops, smartphones, and e-readers because yes, all that can be connected to the internet.
Walgreens recently announced the launch of an SMS reminder system for prescription refills. The free service reminds patients about medications due for a refill and makes it easy for them to replenish their meds: Patients need only reply “refill” to the reminder text. [via MobileHealthNews]
Walgreens already offers a Prescription Ready Text Alerts service, which notifies customers when a prescription order is ready for pickup. It launched in March of 2010 and counted 1 million users a year later. According to the company, the service now counts more than 2 million users.
Walgreens also has a smartphone app, Refill by Scan, that (fittingly) refills applications by scanning the bottle’s barcode. It also counted one million users this March after launching last November.
According to their press release, Walgreens mobile applications, which recently received Webby Awards in the people’s voice categories of Best Integrated Mobile Experience and Best Shopping from a Mobile Device, now account for more than 25 percent of the company’s online prescription refills.
Since the iPhone first arrived on the scene, it has been used to access mobile data like no other device before it. FastCompany reports.
Owners of iPhones browse the web, download apps, upload photos to social networks, and generally download more and more data on the fly than others. The device's popularity--and users' associated habits--have stressed phone networks to the point that over the previous year or so, iPhone carriers (particularly in the U.S.) have slapped data limits on the plans they offer, even what they call "unlimited" plans, in an attempt to preserve their network's stability.
With the arrival of the iPhone 4S, which is expected to sell in the tens of millions by Christmas alone, cell phone networks are going to be even more pressed. These businesses are reacting.
In Nyeri, Kenya a young man named Peterson Mwangi has created a way to start and switch off a car engine, via an SMS command from his cell phone. This is a lot like Morris Mbetsa’s anti-theft vehicle system using SMS of a couple years ago. [via Afrigadget]
According to 9To5Mac, Apple has added a new early earthquake warning notification option to iOS 5, following the devestating earthquake in Japan earlier this year.
iOS 5 users in Japan can turn on early earthquake notifications at the very bottom of the iOS 5 Notification Center settings pane. All the user has to do is flick a switch to start receiving these notifications. According to TIME, who profiled Japan’s earthquake warning system earlier this year, the system gives warnings from seconds to one or two minutes before the earthquake hits.
A recent report by the Associated Press via PC World paints a frightening picture: Hackers have learned to unlock a car's doors and start its engine simply by sending text messages to the vehicle's security system.
Don Bailey and Mat Solnik, researchers from security firm iSec Partners, demonstrated the attack on a Subaru Outback, using a laptop to send their messages and break into the vehicle.
Their findings show that text messaging is no longer limited to short notes telling friends you're running late or asking if they're free for dinner," the AP snarks.
New Yorkers may soon be able to feed the parking meter with their cell phones. NBC New York reports.
The city plans to pilot a "pay by phone" parking meter program that would alert drivers as time runs out and enable them to purchase additional time without returning to the meter.
Deputy Transportation Commissioner Bruce Schaller tells The New York Post the technology would make paying for parking more convenient for drivers, who would not have to go back to their cars, as well as for the city, saving officials the time it takes to collect and sort cash from every meter in the five boroughs.
In order to use the "pay by phone" program, users would have to register once online and then use an app or text message to type in the number of the meter where they're parking and the amount of time they would like to buy.
The city plans to outfit nearly 300 parking spots with the new technology in the next few months for a one-year test program.
According to The Times of India, cell phones across the Kashmir Valley fell silent Monday as service providers switched off the facility following instructions from the security agencies on Indian Indpendence Day.
The cell phones have been used in the past by the guerrillas to trigger remote controlled explosive devices in Jammu and Kashmir to stoke trouble on occassions like independence or republic days.
"We do not want to take any chances. Your phones would start functioning again once the official parade and other functions are over," said an intelligence official who did not want to be named.
Most cell phone users in the summer capital Srinagar complained of the service failure.
A very interesting read from Asher Moses for The Sydney Morning Herald on how moves by Western governments to crack down on the use of technology by citizens are being compared to repressive policies of regimes such as China.
After British Prime Minister David Cameron floated the idea of restricting the use of services such as Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger to prevent riots, transit authorities in San Francisco late last week shut down mobile phone reception in several underground stations to block would-be demonstrators.
Politicians in Norway have discussed methods to limit online anonymity and combat web extremism in the wake of the recent massacre.
In Australia, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is still intent on implementing his heavily criticised mandatory ISP filtering net censorship scheme despite public and political opposition.
Chinese state media are already blaming the London riots on a lack of controls on the internet in Western countries, which is in stark contrast to China's security apparatus, which includes widespread blocking of websites and deep monitoring of online communications.
China even shut down the internet in the Xinjiang region for 10 months in 2009 after riots.
"Media in the US and Britain used to criticise developing countries for curbing freedom of speech. Britain's new attitude will help appease the quarrels between East and West over the future management of the internet," an editorial in China's Global Times read.
UK's Foreign Office has launched a trial service with Vodafone to deliver emergency text messages to their subscribers as well as to customers of any mobile provider whose service runs on Vodafone’s network.
The text will be sent out to customers who are in a country where there has been a major crisis – such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.
The service is free to customers of the mobile providers taking part in the trial and will provide essential advice in the event of a crisis. The Foreign Office will pilot this service for a 12 month period.
Tipping the police of a crime by SMS is nothing new, but reporting on dog poop is. To the best of my knowledge.
According to About My Area, Stockport Council recently launched a new text message alert system to crack down on irresponsible dog owners. The new system allows residents who witness dog owners failing to clear up their pets foul to report the incident via a text message directly to the Council's Dog Warden Service.
The following information is requested in the text:
-- Specific date and time of the fouling.
-- Specific location of the fouling.
-- Brief description of dog and the owner.
-- The name of the person texting (if they are willing to provide this).
Indian Market regulator SEBI has asked stock exchanges to alert investors about details of their transactions every day through SMSes and e-mail, a move to check unauthorised trading by brokers. MoneyControl reports.
Stock exchanges shall send details of transactions to investors, by the end of trading day, through SMSes and e-mail alerts," the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said in a circular.
Exchanges would have to implement the order by December 2 and it would be applicable to trading in cash and derivative segments.
SEBI said it had received complaints
from investors against brokers about unauthorised trading in their accounts.
People in most places worry about missing their train. But travelers on Indian trains are as likely to worry about missing their station, writes the WSJ.
On long-distance Indian trains, particularly overnight ones, many stops aren’t announced over a loud-speaker. Instead, train attendants mutter the station names as they hurriedly walk past. This is presumably so as not to disturb a train full of sleeping passengers. Unfortunately, if you were slumbering too, and you have an early morning stop, it’s entirely possible to sleep your way through it.
Not only do you have to figure out how to make your way back, you could potentially face a fine for the extra distance you traveled but that your ticket didn’t cover.
You set it up by texting a message with your train number, the code of the station at which you’re arriving–both of which should be on your ticket–and the date of your arrival. In return, they’re supposed to call you to let you know when your station is approaching.
Why not just set an alarm on your phone using the scheduled arrival time? Well, long-distance trains can experience delays—and occasionally arrive at stations ahead of time too—making it easy to lose track of a stop.
The NY MTA says it receives about 700 text messages a day seeking arrival or departure information for B63 buses in Brooklyn. Transportation Nation reports.
The transit authority last winter began piloting a GPS-based program on the Bay Ridge-Brooklyn Heights bus route, where users can send a text message asking when a bus will be arriving at a given stop.
The procedure involves texting a six-digit code number to “41411,” then waiting for a text back that tells users how many miles or how many stops the bus is away.
Unlike some privately generated apps, the MTA app doesn’t “find” users, nor does it tell how many minutes a bus is away.
But the authority it still has 18,000 “mobile interactions” and 13,000 “desktop interactions” a month.
Google already allows Gmail users to exchange chat messages with mobile phone users via SMS in 23 countries worldwide, but now French mobile phone operator Orange wants to help the search giant extend the service across Africa and the Middle East. PC World reports.
Gmail SMS Chat allows a Gmail user to send short text messages to someone with only a basic mobile phone and no Internet access or Gmail account. The phone owner can also reply to the Gmail user. Phone users pay to send messages, and may also pay to receive them depending on their contract with their operator. The Gmail user pays nothing, although Google does impose a limit on the number of messages that can be sent: each message replied to raises the limit, allowing five new messages to be sent.
FireText Smoke Alarm is a GSM based smoke alarm with a SIM card which will send you a text if you burn toast or your house is really on fire.
In fact, it can text up to four different numbers at once, increasing the chances of a quick response. Plus, you can even personalise your message, so you can carefully word it to avoid panicking the kids.
According to NextWeb, Google is offering an exclusive feature to Indian Google+ users through which they can update their stream using text messages.
To update Google+ through text messages, you will have to initially add your phone number in Google+ settings, following which Google will text you a verification code which has to be added in the Google+ settings. Optionally, you can also add a security PIN for extra security and avoid spoofing of text messages.
160characters.org reports on Jaybee which aims to help those with a range of illnesses and disabilities to communicate widely via SMS.
Jaybee uses various ‘triggers’ such as hand movements, touch screen, head movements and even a simple blink of an eye, to transform predictive text phrases into very realistic British voices which add character to communication.
Designed initially for people with Motor Neurone Disease, JayBee allows users to say exactly what they want to say. It learns their communication patterns using technology initially used by TIL in the Space Industry.