Mae : Wireless Mobility Blog
| News and views on everything wireless and mobile, from WiFi and WiMAX to 3G and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC).


Not Crazy, Just Technologically Savvy

September 20, 2006

 I saw one again just the other day: a person who appeared to be talking to himself. This was an ordinary-appearing guy, his head partially hidden by the umbrella he was carrying to ward off a light drizzle, proceeding along a sidewalk in a residential neighborhood. There was no-one with him, nor could I locate another person anywhere in the immediate vicinity.


Yet, from my vantage point inside my car, I could clearly see this man’s lips moving. He definitely was carrying on a conversation. 

What’s New and Cool in Wireless

September 26, 2006

This week in San Diego (the same city where, incidentally, TMC’s Internet Telephony EXPO will be held a fortnight from now), technology companies are gathered to show off their latest innovations at the DEMOfall 2006 show. Perusing through the list of products on display, a few caught my eye that relate to the wireless/mobility arena.

First up is Dash Navigation, Inc.’s simply named Dash product/service, which delivers real-time information to people while they’re driving in their cars. To me, the coolest thing about Dash is that it “creates a network of drivers who help each other avoid traffic and share information about their destinations.” I’ve read about SMS services in Europe that alert drivers about traffic jams, and this appears to be along the same lines.

Next Up for Fixed-Mobile Convergence: Femtocells

September 27, 2006

A few days ago I covered a new report out from ABI Research relating to predictions for the dual-mode handset market. (In case you’re not familiar, dual-mode handsets are phones capable of picking up signal from either a cellular network or a WiFi/VoIP network depending on which is available.) In the report, ABI mentioned an up-and-coming technology called femtocell, which I have to admit I hadn’t encountered before.

ABI describes femtocells as “small cellular base stations designed for use in residential or corporate environments.” The research firm said that femtocells have great potential for carriers interested in rolling out fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) services because the technology involved can result in more efficient networks, reduced customer churn, and improved in-building wireless coverage.

I was intrigued to find out more, but before I had to chance to do so TMCnet editor Bob Liu beat me to the punch in his September 26 article about T-Mobile’s plans to soon roll out dual-mode services.

Laser Application for Inputting Data into Mobile Devices

September 28, 2006

On a quest to discover the latest new and cool wireless technologies coming down the pike, yesterday I made a quick scan of exhibitors at the upcoming Wired NEXTFEST. Most didn’t seem related to wireless/mobility per se, but one product that did catch my eye is a new laser-based user interface application developed by three Japanese engineers.

Titled “Smart Laser Scanner for Human-Computer Interface,” the new technology is designed to address the challenge of inputting information into electronic devices as those devices become smaller and smaller. The approach taken by the Japanese developers is to use a “a simple active tracking system using a laser diode (visible or invisible light), steering mirrors, and a single non-imaging photodetector, which is capable of acquiring three dimensional coordinates in real time without the need of any image processing at all.”

Wow, pretty technical stuff!

The engineers who developed this technology further describe it as “a smart rangefinder scanner that instead of continuously scanning over the full field of view, restricts its scanning area, on the basis of a real-time analysis of the backscattered signal, to a very narrow window precisely the size of the target.”

The demo pages for this new technology are pretty technical, but the images are cool.

Zune Battles iPod This Holiday Season

September 29, 2006

It’s official: Microsoft’s Zune and Apple’s iPod will be doing battle this holiday season for the hearts and minds of shoppers. Microsoft announced today that its new Zune music player will ship November 14, and be priced at $249.99, comparable to the 30GB iPod.

Here’s a quick ‘n dirty comparison of the two products:



Storage Size

Screen Size

A Few New Cell Phone Services

October 2, 2006

This morning, a quick scan of the news wires uncovered a few of the newer ways that twenty-first century cell phone manufacturers and service providers are making small, portable communications devices even more impossible to live without.

Personal trainerTrimble, a California-based company that specializes in “advanced positioning solutions” (think GPS), offers a service called AllSport GPS, described in a Mercury News article today as “an application that enables users to measure distance, time, speed and calories on their cell phones.” Those measurements can be uploaded to a Web site for later analysis or just to keep track of fitness progress. The service was released in August as part of the company’s Trimble Outdoors line and, is available on 10 Sprint phone models and on 17 Nextel phones.

Voter registration – If you live in Pennsylvania, you now can get started registering to vote by sending a text message on your cell phone. According to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today, voters can type in either “Pgh” or “Pa” and send it to the number 75444 to register. This brings up prompts to enter name and address, along with the option to have a completed registration form sent to the person’s residence.

Nokia’s Wibree: The Next Bluetooth?

October 3, 2006

The wireless story of today so far seems to be Nokia’s introduction of a new short-range wireless technology, dubbed Wibree, a possible competitor to Bluetooth.

Nokia is promoting Wibree as an “open industry initiative” designed to enable wireless connectivity between small devices (including watches, wireless keyboards, and toys) while consuming less power than other radio technologies. The company also says the new technology will be interoperable with Bluetooth.

In a press release, Nokia explains about the new technology: “Wibree is implemented either as stand-alone chip or as Bluetooth-Wibree dual-mode chip.

D-Link Intros V-Click Dual-Mode Handset

October 4, 2006

There’s been talk for quite some time about fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) and dual-mode handsets. Recently the potential of this new technology has finally begun to see the light of day in actual handsets and services available to consumers.

A case in point is D-Link’s introduction this week of a new, dual-mode (3G cellular/WiFi) handset: the V-Click. On the phone’s product page, D-Link explains users will be able to insert a SIM Smartcard or chip from their cellular provider into the handset to gain GSM access; a button allows users to switch back and forth from cellular to WiFi modes.

T-Mobile to Launch Dual-Mode Handsets and Service

October 9, 2006

Last week, I blogged about D-Link’s launch of its new, dual-mode handset—the V-Click—and noted that the only other comparable product slated for availability soon is Paragon Wireless’ hip-2200. It appears I may have spoken too soon.

According to an Associated Press report that hit the wires Friday, by year’s end T-Mobile plans to launch its own dual-mode handset and companion service.

Analyst: FMC Won’t Catch on Until Carriers Upgrade Networks

October 11, 2006

Here is an interesting article about fixed-mobile convergence, by Computerworld Australia’s Darren Pauli, that appeared in the October 9 edition of Pauli predicts that, despite all the talk about dual-mode (WiFi/Cellular) telephone services and handsets, most companies will hold off another five years or more before jumping on board with the new technology.

The reason, Pauli says, is that “while FMC promises reduced call costs, access to multiple communication lines via one number and seamless network switching, the mobile technology behind it is dragging its feet.”

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