Monday, October 31, 2005

It is a great pleasure to introduce you to the third Carnival of the Mobilists. The more I get Carnival of the Mobilists 03

M-trends introduces the third Carnival of the Mobilists:

"The more I get into the concept the more I believe it's really great for everybody involved. Not only for the bloggers writing about mobile but especially for the readers who, not only get a compact weekly overview of the most important mobile blogging news, but above all, it's an overview of qualitative, original and diverse opinions about what's hot in mobile. And that's what it's all about!

Students to receive lecture notes on their mobiles

Students at a Scottish university are to have their lecture notes sent to their mobile phones in a pioneering bid to replace paper handouts in classes, reports Scotsman News.

"Dr Ayse Goker, from the school of computing at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, is planning to run a trial of the system in her lectures next year.

The system, called AmbieSense, uses hi-tech chips in lecture rooms that are capable of beaming information to mobile phones nearby.

If successful, the project could spell the end of the traditional image of students moving between lectures weighed down with piles of paper notes. Instead students will be able to download handouts, timetables and other work on to their phones.

AmbieSense was developed in a Europe-wide project to provide intelligent interactive tools in different environments.

The system has already been piloted in Seville and Oslo Airport to give useful information to tourists. The AmbieSense chips were able to beam pages from the Lonely Planet guide to people as they visited key tourist spots."

Is this the beginning of the end for lecture photocopies? Well, at least it's saving paper...

SMS in search of criminal information: 'digital door-to-door'

This article in the International Herald Tribune looks at how police used text messaging in their pursuit of soccer fans who rioted in Rotterdam last April:

"After the initial phase of the investigation left many of more than 200 suspects on the loose,the Dutch authorities turned to a kind of cellular door-to-door search,mass text messaging in search of criminal information.The cellular-era tactic has appeared in a growing number of cities since early last year,as the police seek to turn cellphones into direct lines to potential witnesses."

So "prosecutors decided to try using SMS for the first time in search of more witnesses.Investigators sent the SMS to 17,000 cellular subscribers,telling recipients that their phones were known to have been near the riot and to call the police with any information.The numbers were obtained from regional mobile carriers,whose records showed which phones were present in the riot area.Since the message was sent out in July,Degraaff said,arrests in the case have surpassed 130,with 100 suspects having begun court proceedings.Degraaff said her office believed the SMS effort played a role in leading to the additional arrests.The agency has dubbed the tactic "digital door-to-door," a reference to the door-to-door search for witness information police officers typically conduct in the area of a crime".

Via Smartmobs

Friday, October 28, 2005

Phone Vending Kiosks In The UK

Vodafone Deploys Phone Vending Kiosks In The UK

Vodafone got a taste of Japan today when mobile phone vending kiosks were unveiled in Manchester in the UK. Vodafone's Quickfone kiosks were installed in all company stores, so don't go looking around your local market for these just yet. as it's just a pilot to see how consumers react. If the response is good however, you could see them in the underground, and at terminals and malls around the country. The kiosks dispense a variety of prepaid mobile phones and SIM cards to customers and when stock runs low, the kiosk will alert Vodafone so it can be restocked immediately.


Go Digital - 24th October

The latest podcast: 'Car sensors that can help us drive more safely, virtual reality used in rehab and a new take on music lessons.'

Download and listen here


Mobility whilst still in the driving seat? Well, virtually anyway.

Recently I came across this new home-driving seat that's designed for car/racing games in order to enhance the 'real feel' of being on the road whilst being a seated gamer.

It's called 'Gamepod' and even has vibrating or 'dual-shock' steering. It's supposed to be as good as it gets for bringing the 'on the road' experience into the front living room. Thought it worth a mention.

Vehicles with a Sixth Sense

General Motors Develops Vehicles with a Sixth Sense: here's the latest auto-mobility news -

New Technology Helps Drivers "Watch Out" for the Other Guy

"What if your car had a sixth sense that could “see” the traffic you couldn’t or didn’t notice, and, if need be, stopped your vehicle to prevent a collision?

Today, General Motors Corp. demonstrated a fleet of cars that do in fact have a sixth sense. Using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, a vehicle can detect the position and movement of other vehicles up to a quarter of a mile away. In a world where vehicles are equipped with a simple antenna, a computer chip and GPS (Global Positioning System) technology your car will know where the other vehicles are, additionally other vehicles will know where you are too -- whether it is in blind spots, stopped ahead on the highway but hidden from view, around a blind corner or blocked by other vehicles.

The vehicles can anticipate and react to changing driving situations and then instantly warn the drivers with chimes, visual icons and seat vibrations. If the driver doesn’t respond to the alerts, the car can bring itself to a safe stop, avoiding a collision."

Read full post here

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Futurists Pick Top Tech Trends

In a Wired article, the following trends were seen as crucial for the future:

- Simplicity
- Mobile socialisation
- Death of combustion engine
- Going green
- IT revolution of 2006

Read more at the Wired site, above.

Mobile Interpreters and portable doctors

Samsung Electronics, the world’s third-largest cell phone vendor, looks to transform fourth generation (4G) phones into interpreters and portable doctors:

A Korea Herald article says - "Samsung president Lee Ki-tae, who is in charge of the company’s telecom division, disclosed the plan in an article he contributed to The Korea Times. The entire article will be printed in the Times’ anniversary special on Nov. 1."A 4G device would act as a simultaneous interpreter.The 4G device should break down communication barriers by providing translation and interpretation functions,’’ the 57-year-old wrote. He added that a function for recognizing various sign languages and converting them into spoken language will also be introduced. Further"Lee also predicted the handsets would develop into a go-anywhere health monitor by 2009."A mobile phone three years from now will become a portable doctor and omnipotent medical device enabling the user to check his or her health condition from home, work or anywhere around the world,’’ Lee said.He gave the example of health checkup devices that are incorporated into cell phones, which can gauge the handset owner’s blood pressure or diabetes count and transmit the data to their physicians wirelessly."Upon receiving the data, the physicians will be able to make a diagnosis and send back the results to the device,’’ Lee predicted".

Travel mobility --> health diagnostic and interpretation ability...? This sounds like a very holistic move for mobile devices to cover all this the future direction?

Go Digital: Your digital world from the BBC

Go Digital is a new weekly BBC World Service programme that looks at the how technology is changing our lives.

From the site:

"Each week we explore the world of digital technology in all its forms.Each week we will be speaking to leading figures in the computer industry.

We tap into the BBC's network of reporters around the world to bring us the technology stories making the news where you are, changing the world around you.

Go Digital will be available to as a podcast every Monday shortly after the programme is recorded at 1500 GMT / 1600 BST.

It is also broadcast on the BBC World Service radio on Tuesday throughout the day."

Live broadcasts and programmable podcasts downloads available! The BBC seems to be spearheading the media-technology mobile service.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The 'mobile' young being tracked

According to the Register:

"two Dutch telcos, KPN and Scarlet, have introduced mobile phones specially made for young children.On Wednesday,national carrier KPN will unveil a kid phone - iKids - with a built in GPS receiver,which remains working even when the phone isn't activated. Parents can select three 'safety zones', areas where their children are allowed to play.If they wonder off to another area, parents receive an SMS message.They can also look up the child's whereabouts on a virtual map. If one pre-defined number isn't answered, the phone will try the next one.Scarlet,which launched its Buddy Bear on October 15, targets 4 to 9 year olds.Kids can receive calls from all over the world, but they can only phone and SMS to four pre-defined numbers".

iKids! Tracked by GPS at all times? An inevitable trend? Comments?

Passports with chips

The original declaration was that: "All U.S. passports will be implanted with remotely readable computer chips starting in October 2006, the Bush administration has announced",CNET News reports."Sweeping new State Department regulations issued Tuesday say that passports issued after that time will have tiny radio frequency ID (RFID) chips that can transmit personal information including the name,nationality,sex,date of birth,place of birth and digitized photograph of the passport holder.Eventually,the government contemplates adding additional digitized data such as "fingerprints or iris scans."

Now...after quite an uproar, the State Department agreed to rethink that plan -- and have now come out with a renewed plan that seems much more reasonable, though not perfect.

They're going to include some shielding technology on the outside of the passport so that it will be nearly impossible to read the data from the passport while it's closed, along with "Basic Access Control" that gives the passport holder the ability to decide when and how to let the data out.

Read full at which also includes a great visual network displaying passport RFID connections.

The internet and the computer illiterate

This IEEE Spectrum online article by Intel ethnographers Tony Salvador and John Sherry says "at Internet outposts in India,Peru,and Hungary,even the computer illiterate reap the advantages of the Web.In the Morena District in the state of Madhya Pradesh,India,an illiterate woman approaches the local soochak,the manager of an Internet kiosk.She complains about a water well that is not operating, and the soochak,for a small fee,uses a PC to enter her complaint on an electronic form,uploading it to a local hub,where it is registered with the authorities.In Cuzco,Peru, a woman needs to contact her emigrant son in New York City for money to pay a doctor's bill.An international phone call would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, she goes to the local cabina pública, a small public computer center,where voice-over-Internet capability allows her to make a short call to her son for a sol or less,about 30 US cents.She has been communicating with him in this way for the past seven years.In Eastern Hungary, a man named Laszló,who hunts rabbits to sell to restaurants, talks about his business with János, the local operator of a teleház, a small public facility with PCs. János surfs the Web to locate a government grant for the growing of special seed corn. Laszló can use this corn to feed the rabbits through the winter, so they'll be fatter for spring hunting".Via smartmobs

[Computer illiterate and the web]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Finnish Mobile Cluster

Today some 30% of the ICT companies in Finland focus on mobile technologies or services. The size and volume of the Finnish mobile cluster has a significant impact on the whole Finnish economy. Before global mobile phone sales took off The Finnish mobile cluster was born to meet needs in the local marketplace.

Read the following report - published 8/9/05 - for a good overview: 'The Finnish Mobile cluster - evolution that led to a revolution' gives an overview concerning the Finnish mobile cluster. It covers both the factors that lie behind the mobile revolution that took place in Finland and the current situation.

Nearly 700 square miles of Wi-Fi: it's increasing use in the public sector says the largest Wi-Fi/WiMAX network up and running in the U.S isn't found in a major city,but "the distinction goes to a number of small towns and cities in Umatilla and Morrow Counties in eastern Oregon as well as part of Benton County in the State of Washington, which all have access to a Wi-Fi/WiMAX cloud that extends across nearly 700 square miles.These aren't the sort of places where one would naturally expect to find cutting-edge broadband Internet access. In fact, Morrow County doesn't have a single traffic light.!!!

Yet for the last year now, police, fire and emergency medical personnel in Hermiston, Boardman, Lexington, Heppner and other cities in the area have been using the Wi-Fi network to communicate complex information between offices and the field."

Is this leading to more mobile connections between public services? Is this a good move, and will this project be taken up in European countries? Has it already been taken up to some extent? Comments?


Spinners and bloggers: political communications in the digital age

The M.I.T communications forum held on Oct 20 "Spinners and bloggers: political communications in the digital age.This is the blurb from the site:

"For decades, perhaps for as long as independent newspapers have existed, political operatives have used "spin" to shape the way the news media respond to candidates and their policies. Spin can be understood as a kind of top-down power that depends on the social network linking political leaders and the news media. Some have argued that weblogs or blogs have emerged in recent years to disrupt this culture of spin. They see blogging as a grassroots movement that also tries to shape or control public perceptions of important events and issues. Others have claimed that the blogosphere has merely enhanced the influence of traditional interest groups, giving ideologues of the left and the right even more power to “spin” the world as they wish to see it. How can we understand the interplay between spin and blogs? How do each shape, some would say manipulate public opinion? How are each subject to abuse? Is the culture of spin and blogging contributing to the polarization of American political discourse?"

An audio recording of Spinners and Bloggers is now available - a podcast on weblogs! A truly mobile communication here...

Read more at the MIT page

Monday, October 24, 2005

Creating the Global Hot Spot

Wired News has an interesting report on satellite-beaming broadband - indeed, this carries some answers about the long-awaited 'broadband from the sky' in terms of updated satellite ventures - opinions?:

"Telecom giant Inmarsat is weeks away from launching the second in a series of two super-satellites -- designed to be among the most powerful commercial communications spacecraft in orbit -- that will beam broadband data and voice services to almost any location on the planet.

The I-4 satellites will serve as switchboards in the sky for Inmarsat's Broadband Global Area Network, or BGAN, service, scheduled for rollout in 2006. Instead of cruising for a Starbucks, BGAN subscribers can hit the road with a portable terminal as small as their laptop computer and surf the web -- or connect with the office LAN -- at broadband speeds of up to 492 Kbps."

Full article at Wired

Web-based neighborhood sites

In the recent past, the site 'i-neighbors' emerged as a neighbourhood website. Now, the trend has been followed by others.

In this post,the state of neighbourhood-based websites is discussed:

" is still larger than any other U.S. / Canadian neighborhood based web service that I know of, but the number of sites similar to continues to grow. is focused on the Washington D.C. area, they currently support only three neighborhoods but intend to expand across the U.S. Their website mentions that they recently received 3 million dollars in start-up funds. Nice website, surprisingly consistent with the features offered at, although it appears to focus on a bulletin board type system rather than email lists. eBlock is a similar for-profit initiative. While not yet available for wide spread public use, they are currently running trials on a few "blocks." Blocks are their unit of organizing, limiting each neighborhood group in size to rather small predefined geographic areas. They are still looking for funding before they expand. I'm still not convinced that there is a for-profit model for this type of site, but I am really interested to see how these sites progress. I am also surprisingly conflicted, is a non-profit research project designed both to build neighborhood interactions and to encourage the development of other local social capital Internet initiatives, but I feel a surprising need to compete. If the site is to continue to grow I think it needs to evolve. It will become increasingly difficult to remain competitive with other sites based on my shoe string academic funding, especially when other sites can attract venture capital, but stay tuned for v.2.0 some time early next year."

Any comments on neighbourhood websites, and their effectiveness?

The broadband balloon

This New Scientist article - Balloon beams broadband internet from stratosphere - says "a blisteringly fast data downlink provided by a stratospheric balloon floating 24,000 metres above the Earth has been tested for the first time.The untethered, 12,000-cubic-metre helium balloon was tested on 31 August for several hours. Analysis now shows the test was a success and sent data to the ground at 1.25 gigabits per second. That is thousands of times the capacity of a home broadband internet connection and the first time such a link has been tested from the stratosphere.The test craft was developed by the Capanina Consortium – 14 European academic and industry partners funded mainly by the European Union. They hope the craft may be able to provide communications in disaster zones or low-cost internet access in the developing world".The article also has video footage (28MB Mpeg) recorded at the test site.

So, are we going to get our fast downloads through balloons now rather than the low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites? Whatever happened to the Gates consortium on this? Any news anyone? (Ed)

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Again, RFID finds an innovative niche; interesting this -

TRN Research News
reports "researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a hands-free and eyes-free system that allows people to find information about objects without having to actively scan them, use a keypad, or use a speech interface in noisy or socially awkward settings. The system, dubbed ReachMedia, consists of a bracelet that reads radio frequency identification tags to detect objects the user is holding, an accelerometer to detect hand gestures and a cell phone that connects to the Internet, plays sounds when objects and gestures are recognized, and provides audio information about the object in hand. A person could, for example, pick up a book to search for reviews of the book online. She would hear a sound from her phone indicating information was available about the book, and would use gestures -- a downward flick and right and left rotation -- to select or go to the previous or next menu item of available information".

Bluetooth ads an emerging trend

This was bound to come - advertising on mobile media!!

In a Smartmobs blog:

According to Emerce two Dutch software companies launche a Bluetooth advertising service for retailers as an enabler to reach the masses on the street with an advertisement and seduce them to enter their store.

The first demonstration was of Blink Media that launched their so-called Mobile Catch on October 5th on POP 2005 . This was followed by Inspiro on Emerge Day.

Inspiro's technology recognizes via the Bluetooth chip the type of cellular that is being used. In the future the company intends to include a Near Field Communication (NFC) service to carry messages across a longer distance. The NFC chip is not yet available in cellulars.

The British company Filter UK had the world's primer in August with a Bluetooth advertising service.

Cities Unleash Free Wi-Fi

In November, Dianah Neff will go to Africa for the first time in her life.

She’s not going for a safari or to buy souvenirs. Instead, she’ll be meeting with local officials in Douala, Cameroon, to discuss how they might set up a municipal Wi-Fi network

"They have no wired infrastructure," explains Neff. "They’re looking to wireless to connect the entire town."

Neff should know. As the chief information officer in Philadelphia Mayor John Street's Office of Information Services, she heads a $49-million project -- known as Wireless Philadelphia -- to blanket the city in a broadband wireless network. The city plans to begin construction by year-end, administering the network through a nonprofit group that will partner with private vendors and ISPs.

Read at Wired

Wireless technology changing work and play

Ahh - now the academic work life is like a mobile office!

'Geoffrey Bowker, executive director of a research institute at Santa Clara University, remembers a time when going to academic conferences meant leaving office concerns behind, hearing provocative lectures and getting to experience a new city. He especially liked visiting art galleries.

No longer.

Now, wherever Bowker goes, his office goes with him. E-mails, phone calls and office documents float into his hands, demanding his attention at all hours of the day. Through a cell phone and his laptop computer, Bowker is as connected to his office at conferences as when he is there in person.

The eroding distinction between work and play is one of the many paradoxes at the heart of our increasingly wireless world.'

Read this article in full at CNN

Social Tapestries

Social Tapestries:public authoring and civil society
By Giles Lane
"Social Tapestries is a two year research project developing experimental uses of public authoring* to demonstrate the social and cultural benefits of local knowledge sharing enabled by new mobile technologies."
"....Agency and Authorship'... stories are becoming private and sink into the secluded places in neighbour-hoods, families or individuals... while the rumours propagated by the media cover everything...'Michel de Certeau, "Walking in the City" in The Practice of Everyday Life
As we move into a new century, new paradigms of communications are beginning to take hold. The range of sources of information have multiplied exponentially with the arrival of satellite communications and the internet. No longer are we reliant on a single or limited number of sources that define our understanding and opinions, but we may gather information from a heterogeneous collection of places. Although much of it is the same, we now have at our
disposal an unprecedented ability to see from other perspectives, through different eyes.Not only that, but it is two way: people do wish to comment, to communicate their interpretation of events, to participate in the culture they are part of. I believe that this radical shift in information flow and control away from large institutions (both public and private) to ordinary people could have a profound social and cultural impact on the uses and implications of wireless and mobile technologies in daily life, as well as social and community relations....."

[Social Tapestries:public authoring and civil society]PDF file

Search engine class

Professor Marti Hearst,at UC Berkeley,has put together an fantastic line-up of speakers for her Search Engines:Technology,Society,and Business class

[Search Engines:Technology,Society,and Business]

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Forum to promote future mobile communication

A forum organization had its first meeting on Monday in Shanghai, to "boost the development of technology beyond the third generation mobile communication (3G)."

The organization, or namely Future Mobile Communication Forum, has 26 co-founders including nine multinationals, Siemens, Nokia, Ericsson, Philips, Shanghai Bell-Alcatel, Motorola, Sumsung, France Telecom and NTT Docomo from Japan.

Four Chinese telecom operators of China Telecom, China Mobile, China Netcom and China Unicom are also members of the forum, along with domestic equipment manufacturers of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd, ZTE and Datang Telecom.

"The forum symbolizes that the future development of mobile communication technology following 3G has aroused the attention from the telecom operators and the manufacturers," said Wen Ku, official with the Ministry of Information Industry.

According to artilce on China View


ABC Science Online says "'U R dumped', or 'I H8 U' are fairly blunt ways to end a relationship, but an Australian study of our SMS habits shows text messages are now a common way to say it's over.Clinical psychologist Dr Natalie Robinson from Macquarie University in Sydney asked a group of 100 young adults how they used SMS.She was surprised to find at least 15% percent had ended a relationship with a text message.And some people are more likely to reach for their mobile's keypad than others, especially when relationships get rocky, says Robinson.She conducted the study with students either in relationships, engaged or married, surveyed their personality traits, then used attachment profiling, a way of understanding roles in romantic relationships.Robinson noticed that participants with an 'anxious attachment' style are likely to favour SMS messages in difficult emotional situations. And saying goodbye provides just such a situation."SMS gives people a way of ending relationships without having to confront the other person," she says.Robinson also noticed that of the 18-35 year-olds in her group, it tended to be the younger ones who had dumped a boyfriend or girlfriend via text.But only 7% of the same group had been on the receiving end of a 'U R dumped' text themselves. And as one might expect, being dumped via SMS is not particularly pleasant".

[Ending a relationship with SMS]

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wireless Communication and Development: A Global Perspective

As a follow up to our post on August 13th:

The annual research workshop focused this year on "Wireless Communication and Development: A Global Perspective." This year's gathering brought together many of the world's leading researchers, including participants from India, Kenya, Indonesia, Chile, Mexico, China, and England. They represented NGOs, governments, academic institutions, and international corporations. The workshop was a chance to begin a systematic analysis of wireless policies, deployment strategies and user practices across the developing world.

Papers and presentations from the workshop are available here

Thanks François!

Social Networks and Social Networking

This article provides an historical and scientific background on social networking, and includes good links and resources.

"Most contemporary lay discussion of social networking seems to center on online interactions via the Internet and focus on "hooking up" with others to get a job, get a date, or share stories with people who have, say, the same breed of dog. Yet, for decades researchers in the behavioral sciences have been systematically studying social networks of all kinds — "offline" interactions (face to face, letters, telephone, and so on) as well as online to determine how social networks are developed and maintained and how social­network connections affect our lives."

Read at IEEE

Issues of RFID

According to a recent article titled: 'Chip on Your Shoulder'

"Radio frequency technology offers government some breakthrough possibilities. It also scares people...

If the United States were more like Japan, it might be reasonable to predict that Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) would soon be all over America’s schools and other public institutions, now that the technology is safe, reliable and relatively simple to install. But no matter how efficient RFID becomes, adoption is not going to come easily here. Almost any time the subject comes up, privacy advocates go ballistic. The Brittan School episode in California led to serious legislative proposals this year to strictly limit the use of RFID tags. California legislators argued that the tags should not be connected in any way to an identity card such as a school ID or a driver’s license."

This article is a recommended read on the multiple uses of RFID.

Personally, I am wary about the uses this technology may be appropriated for.

How computer maps will help the poor

By using high-tech tools, San Jose residents hope to gain a stronger voice in planning decisions.

This winter, residents from some of the poorest areas of this city will canvass their communities with pocket PCs, GPS receivers, and digital cameras. The goal: to survey some of San Jose's most neglected neighborhoods and build a map of 19 underserved communities.

Full article at Christian Science Monitor

So now grassroots action is mapping the neighbourhood in a bid to increase local ties: and I see this as a growing phenomenon

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Broadband-enabled hotels

A recent report states that "worldwide, the ranks of broadband-enabled hotels will grow from 14,300 properties in 2004 to nearly 54,000 properties in 2009, according to a report from technology market research firm In-Stat".It says "North America is currently the largest region for hotel broadband, representing approximately two-thirds of total properties connected.In terms of total market, defined as all travel accommodations worldwide, broadband will have only penetrated 3.4 per cent in 2004, growing to 11.4 per cent in 2009".

Shouldn't all public places offer free enabled broadband at the very least? When will the time come when all places/spaces are Wi-Fi enabled? Come on policy!

Anyway - read at Digital Media News

Missouri May Track Cell Phones for Traffic Data

In what would be the largest project of its kind, the The Missouri Department of Transportation is finalizing a contract to monitor thousands of cell phones, using their movements to map real-time traffic conditions statewide on all 5,500 miles of major roads, reports The Associated Press.

"It's just one of a number of initiatives to more intelligently manage traffic flow through wireless data collection.

Officials say there's no Big Brother agenda in the Missouri project — the data will remain anonymous, leaving no possibility to track specific people from their driveway to their destination.

But privacy advocates are uneasy nonetheless."

Will this be the beginning to further trials of traffic monitoring?? (Ed. wonders...)

Read full at Yahoo News

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Our security may be in our walk

A new type of phone security is being matched to the way a person walks:

"Whether you stride purposefully or shuffle along, your unique mode of locomotion could soon be used to secure your cell phone against theft and unauthorised use",New Scientist reports."Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have developed a prototype of a cell phone that uses motion sensors to record a user's walking pattern of movement, or gait. The device then periodically checks to see that it is still in the possession of its legitimate owner, by measuring the current stride and comparing it against that stored in its memory".

Well - at least it means we'll have to keep walking in a physical sense! :-)

Via New Scientist

Friday, October 14, 2005

Finding your place in 'placeopedia'

Placeopedia is a new site that allows visitors to layer links to Wikipedia articles over Google maps. The site is new so it doesn't have that many places labelled yet, but anyone that visits can make their contribution. I would be interesting to see Wikipedia articles layed out on timelines, genealogies of creative influence (for artists, poets, authors, etc.), or conceptual maps also.

If this takes off anything like Wikipedia, we could see our collaborative knowledge base having physical connections (Ed)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Study: The impact of mobile phone use immediately before bedtime on the brain and sleep patterns

Although the results showed there were differences in the brain's electrical activity in the initial part of sleep as a result of using a mobile before bedtime, this had no affect on sleep variables such as the time it takes to get to sleep, the length of time asleep or whether the person slept lightly or deeply and therefore does not affect the overall quality of a person's sleep.

Conducted by Swinburne's Brain Sciences Institute as part of a larger investigation funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the study examined the impact of mobile phone use immediately before bedtime on the brain and sleep patterns.

Read Via Cellular-News

Japan preparing Voice over Internet telephony for mobile phones in 2007

Japan is readying a new network for cell phones that will allow people to connect to the Internet to talk over the phone more cheaply and transmit data more quickly.

Read more on this via

Students trusting the Web Search?

A new study by Yahoo! Search Marketing says "college students rely on search engines more than any other media,including magazines, newspapers, and television ads,"this article says."For the study, Yahoo! and Hall & Partners surveyed 486 college students in August, and Greenberg Brand Strategy conducted in-depth interviews with 12 students. Researchers asked students to rate various information sources--including search, family and friends, and traditional media--on a five-point scale". Also,"When it came to trustworthiness, search came in second to family and friends--but by a small margin. Sixty-five percent of students said that family and friends were the most credible source of information, but 63 percent said the same about search; only 35 percent rated traditional media as most credible".

Yes - they may trust the Net but does this stop them from plagiarising their trust?? (Ed)

Mobile voting - coming our way?

Another San Francisco experiment (they are an innovative bunch!):

Mobile Voter announces the launch of its SFVote drive in association with the Chinese American Voter Education Committee (CAVEC). This campaign aims to register voters in San Francisco using Mobile Voter's text messaging service. By texting keyword "vote" to 80837, participants will receive registration forms and instructions about how to register to vote.

See MobileVoter homepage

Mobile narrative

Imagine a world where everywhere you went your PDA would tell you its history, its sounds, the local culture. This could be a situation in the near future. A recent experiment in San Francisco tested this scenario:

Scape the Hood debuted this past weekend, a collaboration between HP Labs and KQED where prerecorded sounds, music and narrative were cued by your GPS location as you walked along 3 blocks in San Francisco. It is part of the Digitial Storytelling Festival which has been running for 10 years. KQED's 3 year old Digital Storytelling Initiative was a sponsor of the festival.

The experiment, called Scape the Hood, will transform a few seemingly drab city blocks into a landscape rich with sound, sights and stories. Using GPS-enabled HP iPAQ Pocket PCs and a location-based software platform developed by HP Labs, participants will be able to walk around the neighborhood and learn about its history and culture -- and about impending changes to its character.

Read HP pioneers digital storytelling IPaq Pocket PC to be used for neighborhood history project

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

iPods, mobile phones and community

Barry Wellman NetLab Director of the Centre for Urban & Community Studies of the University of Toronto was interviewed for a thoughtful long feature of Kenneth Kidd in Sunday's Toronto Star about how iPods and mobile phones are affecting public/private boundaries of community.

"By appropriating public space in this way, people are also discounting its value, especially the cellphone users — who actively disturb the peace with their own words, as if those physically around them either don't exist or are beneath noticing."

Since the full article is registration only, read a lengthy extract via Smartmobs

Yahoo puts blogs at head of news

Blogging is again coming to be increasingly recognised as a medium for today's information flows/messages:

Bloggers are gaining a higher profile alongside traditional news sources with Yahoo including blogs in its expanding news search system.

Pete Clifton, editor of the BBC News website, thinks blogs have a valuable role to play.

"Embracing the value of what people know, and what they are saying, should be central to the proposition of any news site these days," he said.

"Giving readers easy access to what is being said by bloggers is another way of doing this.

"I don't believe blogs will eclipse trusted sources of news journalism like the BBC, but the two things can live very happily together, as long as readers are clear which is which," he added.

Full article at BBC

Monday, October 10, 2005

Italy Now Tracks Internet Cafe Use

If Italy has come to these draconian measures, are other EU countries to follow?

Under antiterrorism legislation passed in July, the cyber cafes must now make copies of passport information for everyone who uses a computer, telephone or fax machine, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Via Newsfactor

Korea's high-tech utopia

A ubiquitous city is where all major information systems (residential, medical, business, governmental and the like) share data, and computers are built into the houses, streets and office buildings. New Songdo, located on a man-made island of nearly 1,500 acres off the Incheon coast about 40 miles from Seoul, is rising from the ground up as a U-city.
New Songdo, a free-enterprise zone where English will be the lingua franca, is often called the largest private real-estate development in the world. When completed in 2014, it is estimated that this $25 billion project will be home to 65,000 people and that 300,000 will work there.

Via CNet

SMS against truancy

How's this for scaring would be truants??

Students in Rome are becoming guinea pigs in an experiment that uses cellphones to deter truancy. Starting on Monday for about six months, when students fail to show up for class and the school has not been previously notified, a text message will be automatically sent to their parents' mobile phones.

Read at International Herald Tribune

Saturday, October 08, 2005

More car revolutions

New silicon is available for automakers to make drive-by-wire electronic steering, braking and engine control a reality. Plus: Ford joins new nanotech research consortium.

Check out the Wired News blog Autopia.

Better Directions

The virtual world has never been more connected to the real one. Satellite imagery and geography markup language are all over the Web, and GPS receivers come built into cell phones and other everyday gadgets. All the overlords of Internet search - Google, MSN, Yahoo!, even Amazon's - provide cartographic results embedded with information. Augmented reality is the latest benchmark of the digital age.

Full article at Wired

Bible more mobile than ever??

Sorry - I couldn't resist this post...

The Bible Society in Australia has taken the bold step of translating the entire Bible into txt-talk which mobile-savvy believers can disseminate via SMS in 31,173 bite-sized verses.

4 God so luvd da world

You can download your 7.7Mb txt Bible here and thereafter spread the word of the Lord in 150-character snippets.

via The Register

What's next? 'Let thre B Lite?' (Ed).

Friday, October 07, 2005

Plugged In, but Tuned Out:

A recent, and interesting, article on The Wall Street Journal Online, looks at the connectedness of today's 'uber-teenagers' - states:

"Children today have been labeled "the connected generation," with iPods in their ears, text messages at their fingertips and laptop screens at eye level. But their technology-focused lifestyle can also leave them disconnected from the wider world, especially from their parents.

Many teens won't give friends their home numbers, says Samantha Landau, 15, of West Hills, Calif. "They don't want friends to talk to their parents, because they don't want their parents to know about their lives."

It's easy to assume that these are just perennial generational tensions in new high-tech boxes. After all, baby boomers and their parents have endured an infamous culture gap. But technology has exacerbated the gulf between today's parents and kids in ways we need to notice. It's easier now for kids to function in their own closed societies, leaving them oblivious to adult culture.

People over age 40 grew up with just a few TV channels. We watched TV news -- at 6 p.m. it was the only thing on -- and soaked up the adult worlds of information and entertainment because that's all that was available. Now kids have their own worlds, their own channels."

More RFID tracking...

RFID kids tracking in Yokohama City:

RFID in Japan reports that "NTT Data, Tokyu Security, and Its Communications presented the results of their pilot tests of the active RFID-based system for tracking school kids. The pilot test, which is called "I Safety", took place from April 5 till the end of July in Aoba-ku of Yokohama City. The companies claim that the system was well received by parents (even though there were some issues.)27 active RFID readers were installed in a 1km square area called "Watch Spot" to track kids' whereabouts in the area. Parents can view their kids' locations using a PC or a cellphone. Also, notifications can be sent to parents' mobile phones when their kids are detected by a specified RFID reader. What's unique about this pilot is the human network system for handling emergency situations: if a child presses an emergency button on the "tag", adults will come running to help him/her, these adults not only includes professional security guards but also volunteers who are living near RFID readers. (The volunteers are selected from the kids' parents) 188 kids participated.One of the major problem was false alarms. There were 53 cases of emergency alarms, however, all of them were false alarms. Because of frequent false alarms, the volunteers eventually got less serious about running out there to help".

From RFID in Japan

The preference engine

This L.A Times article looks at "preference engines track consumers choices online and suggest other things to try. But do they broaden tastes or narrow them?"Further,"We're just being flooded with content," said Erik Brynjolfsson, professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. "And people are increasingly relying on recommenders to help them sort through it all."Preference engines emerged in the earliest days of e-commerce to boost sales — the Internet equivalent of "Would you like a belt to go with that?" — but they have improved with technology and incorporated human feedback to more precisely predict what someone might like.Their spread worries some who fear that preference engines can extract a social price. As consumers are exposed only to the types of things they're interested in, there's a danger that their tastes can narrow and that society may balkanize into groups with obscure interests."As these things get better and better, nobody has to encounter ideas they don't already agree with," said Barry Schwartz, professor of sociology at Swarthmore College and author of "The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less." "We lose that sense of community we had when there were shared cultural experiences, even though we may not have liked them. Now we can create our own cocoon and keep all that unpleasant stuff out......"

[Telling You What You Like]

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Spying RFID?

Should we be cautious over the rise of RFID in commercial and consumer movements? Some analysts think so. Spychips sees an RFID Conspiracy:

"A new book by privacy advocates makes the case that corporations and government agencies are in collusion to put tiny radio transmitters on nearly everything we buy. Companies say it's about providing thought leadership, not the Mark of the Beast.

Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre hope to become the twin Erin Brockoviches of RFID, by revealing the threat posed by the radio tag replacements for barcode labels.

They may get their wish, if readers believe the conclusions of the privacy advocates' new book, Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID."

Read at Wired

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mobility or Tracking?

NSA granted Net location-tracking patent:

'The National Security Agency has obtained a patent on a method of figuring out an Internet user's geographic location.

Patent 6,947,978 describes a way to discover someone's physical location by comparing it to a "map" of Internet addresses with known locations.

The NSA's patent relies on measuring the latency, meaning the time lag between computers exchanging data, of "numerous" locations on the Internet and building a "network latency topology map." Then, at least in theory, the Internet address to be identified can be looked up on the map by measuring how long it takes known computers to connect to the unknown one.'

Read more at C.Net

PC's a thing of the past? Mobile devices the future...

Sun president: PCs are so yesterday:

So asserted Jonathan Schwartz, president of server and software maker Sun Microsystems. Instead, what has become important are Web services on the Internet and the mobile phones most will use to access them, he argued at a Friday speech here at a meeting of the American India Foundation.

"The majority of the applications that will drive the next wave of innovation will be services, not applications that run on the desktop. The real innovation is occurring in the network and the network services," Schwartz said.

Read full article at ZDNet

Wi-Fi for Free?

Google Inc. has offered to blanket San Francisco with free wireless Internet access. The proposal raises speculation that Google intends to create a free national Wi-Fi network....

Full article at

Zoo mobility

Another use of RFID:

RFID in Japan reports that the "Ubiquitous ID Center will test an RFID-based system for supporting sightseeers at a park and a zoo in Ueno, Tokyo. The test wil start on the 13th October and lasts till the end of November and will be carried out in collaboration with Jiritsu Project by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.RFID tags (ucode tags) and "radio markers" will be embedded at key locations in a park and a zoo. Mobile devices (Ubiquitous Communicator) read these tags and show directions, recommend possible routes and provide users (e.g., international travellers) with information about historical spots and animals".

See RFID in Japan

Happy campers?

"Today's campers come equipped not just with bug spray and burgers, but cell phones, computers, televisions and video games. As electronic gadgets have become more portable, Americans have begun toting them everywhere -- even into the great outdoors. So private campgrounds and state parks are busily adding electronic amenities to keep campers happy.Recently, company officials at Kampgrounds of America polled campers about amenities they'd like to see. High on the list were cable and phone lines and wireless Internet access.To appease its customers -- whose average age is over 50 -- KOA is installing Wi-Fi wireless Internet access at all its campgrounds."
Via smartmobs
[Campers want electronic creature comforts]

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Topic:what people carry why and how

From the Future perfect blog:"A while back I was discussing the differences between Japanese, English and Finnish cultures. One superficial difference is the degree to which Japanese people care for and maintain their physical appearance in public. Look at the mobile essentials carried by male or female Tokyo commuter you will find a relatively high proportion of items related tomaintain appearance compared to the equivalent contents from a London or Helsinki commuter - combs, make-up, mirror, deodorants, tissues etc *. Of course the opposite is equally true - the relative lack of appearance maintenance objects in the UK & Finland. I often leave Tokyo feeling like a slob and arrive in Helsinki feeling relatively smartly dressed (feel free not to comment).There are many ways to explain the differences in volume of appearance-related-objects in terms of what people carry. Relatively long commuting times into Tokyo could mean that people have to carry more of the items they need for later in the day. Alternatively, more socializing takes place outside the home so there are fewer opportunities to use the home space as a status signifier, putting more emphasis on projecting status via dress and accessories. Retail is geared up to support getting the look just-right - in Tokyo you can take it for granted that even if you buy a pair of trousers in a mass-market retailer they will measure, cut and sew to your requirements pretty much within an hour of purchase, whereas in Europe to a large extent people accept what is available off the shelf - and walk around in (badly) fitting clothes.
Carrying the tools for maintaining ones appearance implies the need for ongoing efforts over the course of the day - combing hair or applying make-up on the subway, using the mobile phone display as a mirror or, taking out a compact. Gazing at a mirror for 'too long' in a public space in a city like Berlin and you'll be considered vain. But vanity is a relative thing and as was pointed out - in a city the size of Seoul (10 million) the opinions of people you will never meet again matter less - they might as well be part of the furniture.
During my visit to Ji Lin earlier this year I managed to spend about 5 minutes in the security office of the hotel we were staying at and, looking at the security screens got a sense of where all the close circuit TV cameras were placed around the building. There was a fairly innocuous camera in each of the elevators. You know how when the elevator doors close you look in the mirror and when they re-open you pretend that you were doing something else like fiddling with your watch? Well, that personal moment was not so personal - the security guard and his mates enjoyed your private moment too. Hmm, anyone know of user studies of what people do in elevators?
A ubiquitous manifestation of vanity with Seoul's younger residents is selca = self camera = the taking of photos of oneself typically for placement on a Cyworld homepage. No visit to a cafe or restaurant appears complete without digital cameras and camera phones being taken out to document oneself at the beginning of the event. This is not one or two quickly taken snaps - the camera angles are carefully thought out, results are reviewed, re-taken, hair is re-arranged, again and again and again easily for up to 10 minutes. It's interesting enough when it's just one person. The effect is magnified when all the people sitting around the same table are engaged in this same self-focused activity sometimes with minimal interaction amongst themselves. Camera phones are even marketed as having features that enable good selca - easy to hold and see self portraits whilst taking, and filters to change the photo appearance on the phone. The process is so removed from my reality I feel like I belong to another species. Do the experiences we have not exist if not recorded and displayed in some way? Do we not exist if we are not present in the photos of the event?
Thanks Kim and Younghee for the cultural guidance this past week.*If you are interested in the whole what-people-carry-why-and-how topic Scott Mainwaring of Intel's People & Practices Group presented a paper at Ubicomp 2005, and I have a paper on a similar topic coming up at DUX 2005."