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.
Here's a company planning on using SMS to send some good news.
Qantas Airlines will be sending their Frequent Flyer members an SMS alert well before their flight advising that their upgrade has come through, rather than when they arrive at the airport to check in for their flight.
Angula said the SMS survey is towards the setting of a minimum wage for domestic workers, which is currently non-existent..
"Domestic workers are of the most disadvantaged workers, they are very lowly paid, and their work is undervalued," emphasised Angula..
He said the union has opted to do the survey by SMS to allow for greater participation, after which the data will be collated and a proposal for a minimum wage formalised to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel's third-largest cellular telephone service provider, Orange, are at odds over the use of the firm's SMS system to send emergency alerts to the populace in wartime, Xinhua reported via Trend.
And the dust-up couldn't have come at a more critical time: during a week-long national drill, "Turning Point 5," in which the military, police, government ministries, rescue services, some 80 municipalities, and the country's 7.5 million residents practice responding to a simultaneous massive missile attack on the Jewish State.
A crucial part of the this year's annual drill comes on Wednesday, when a newly-installed alert system is scheduled to send out hundreds of thousands of SMS messages to the population in order to test out the technology. There are an estimated 10 million cellphones in use in Israel.
The message that will be sent by the Home Front Command will say, "Drill -- have a nice day, from the Homefront Command."
The idea is to eventually phase-out outdoor air-raid sirens, which are often unheard indoors, by the infirm, or in certain areas of the country.
This year during the course of a mobile interaction design class 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.
About 700 million illiterate people in developing countries are currently excluded from the benefits of text messaging. Most of them reside in rural areas in which mobile phone coverage and ownership is growing rapidly and SMS are cheap or even free.
EasySMS application empowers illiterate people to read, compose and send text messages through available text-to-speech solutions to their contacts.
The composition of messages is facilitated through pictograms and previously received messages. Contact identification is aided by visually search-able avatars.
To understand the meaning of each word of the SMSs users receive not only the meaning of the whole message: --> the message is played in a karaoke like style --> each word of the message is a playable button: the user can click on each word to hear it.
Puntersearch dates back to 2003 and stood out for it's audacity. It was a prostitute finder service which allowed users to search by location or personal attribute - such as hair colour. Thankfully, itt's no longer online.
According to Miami-based healthcare technology company ER Texting, Inc., more hospitals are publicizing emergency room wait times through text messaging but for reasons that go beyond driving patient traffic.
Using ER Texting, patients can send a text message to a dedicated SMS short code (4ER411) and instantly receive a message in return which lists the emergency room wait times for participating hospitals in their area. The application enables patients to find hospitals with the shortest wait times using any mobile phone.
While the technology was originally marketed as a means to drive traffic to emergency rooms, hospital executives have discovered the added benefits of improved patient satisfaction and load balancing.
Jetstar, Australia's low cost airline, has introduced a boarding pass via SMS service, along with self-service check-in kiosks at all the 18 Australian and New Zealand domestic airports from which it operates. ITWire reports.
The issue of the SMS boarding pass can be automatic. When they book their flight customers can request either SMS or email delivery of the boarding pass and it will be delivered 24 hours before they are due to fly.
Customers holding an SMS boarding pass without check-in baggage can go straight to the boarding gate. Those with baggage can scan their SMS boarding code at a Jetstar self service kiosk in the check-in area, collect their boarding pass, bag-tags then drop their bags at the bag drop and board their flight.
The optional security feature only works if you opt in. It’s called Login Approvals. When you login into Facebook from an unrecognized computer, you need to enter a code that’s sent to your mobile phone. If you don’t have your phone with you, you won’t be able to access Facebook until you go to a recognizable computer.
Naba Wangré, manager of the child labour project at the Burkina Faso Red Cross, sends bluntly worded text messages to government officials, employers, traditional leaders, teachers, business owners and housewives several times a year, trying to reduce the widespread exploitation of domestic workers by raising awareness of their rights.
... Sending text messages via cellphones is one of the most effective ways of passing information to a mass audience, said Ken Banks, founder of FrontlineSMS, which tries to help non-profit organizations deploy mobile technology.
Project Masiluleke in South Africa was one of the most successful examples of behaviour change as a result of an SMS campaign, in which text messages with HIV awareness and testing information organization were sent out, resulting in a spike in voluntary testing.
After more than five years of planning, a national emergency alert system that will send messages to cell phones - in case of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other serious emergencies - is set to launch in New York City and Washington by the end of year.