Locative Lab

researching locative media

Digital Television Coming to A Phone Near You


While the concept of watching television on today’s handsets is nothing new thanks to wireless web and streaming video apps, WRAL and CBS are testing a new mobile digital TV technology that can potentially turn a cell phone into a literal mobile television set.

This technology would send specially encoded signals to receivers built into devices such as cell phones (and PDAs). The digital waves would be sent over the same signals as local HDTV broadcasts (openly over the air).

The early field tests are currently supported by a number of companies, including Harris Corporation, LG Electronics and Zenith. They, along with WRAL and CBS, are hoping to deploy mobile digital TV as early as next year. This technology would provide access to local digital TV on your handset: A little piece of home even when you are not.

For more information, click here.

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You’ve Heard of Smartphones- Now Meet Smart Batteries


So long as we have mobile technology, we have to be concerned with batteries. Researchers at NTT DoCoMo have completed development of an intelligent lithium-ion battery that monitors its own health (and charge status) and assembles reports that are accessible by users.

How is this possible you ask? Why through a digital brain of course. Each unit would contain an embedded 8-bit microcomputer inside the battery itself that records and stores the data. The information can then be called up to the handset by the user to see how the battery’s feeling (and whether or not it’s time for repaire or replacement).

Maybe you’re saying to yourself “big deal, my phone does that now”. Here’s the real benefit to the smart battery- The information stays with the battery and not the handset, which means even if it is swapped out into another phone, the information will still be available.

NTT DoCoMo says the batteries will be ready for phones next year. For more details, click here.

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RFID Pill Monitors Body Temperature at Walking Race


Researchers at Radboud University in The Netherlands were able to monitor the body temperature of participants at the world’s largest marching event using RFID technology. RFID Update reports.

“Volunteer participants in the annual Four Days Marches of Nijmegen swallowed an RFID-based temperature sensor that measured their internal temperature and helped researchers identify potential health issues.

“Based on their height, weight and age, the system was able to alert the volunteer if their core body temperature had reached a dangerous level,” says Martijn Bakkers, branch manager of healthcare at Progress Software.

Radboud University Researchers were able to monitor and record the ten volunteers’ temperatures via a signal transmitted every ten seconds from the RFID “pill” to a receiving device in the volunteer’s backpack.

That data was then transmitted via Bluetooth to a GPS-enabled mobile phone (provided by Dutch telecommunications operator KPN) to the operations center at Radboud.”

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Nokia To Acquire Plazes


I had not heard abut Plazes before this morning, but it appears that Nokia is going to acquire them for an undisclosed sum.

Plazes is a context-aware-social-activity service that people can use the place, record, and share their social activities. It’s similar to services like Twitter, Jaiku, Plurk, and others. Unlike a lot of other networks that talk about location, in Plazes, it’s front and center.

Seems a lot like Nokia’s tagline-connecting people.

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New Mobile Browser Available Now


With more and more mobile handsets coming equipped with internet browsing capabilities that rival yesteryear’s laptop capabilities, the mobile web (scaled down & simplified versions of popular web sites) isn’t cutting the proverbial mustard anymore.

Opera Software today released its beta version of its Opera Mobile 9.5 software, which allows users to view entire web pages.

With panning and zooming options, users are able to focus on specific page content. Opera also introduces a new user interface for easier navigation over Opera 8.65.

Not only is Opera Mobile 9.5 contain the most standards-compliant browser available, it allows developers to debug JavaScript, inspect Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and the Document Object Model (DOM), and view any errors, making development for the mobile phone even easier.

The free download can be retrieved here.

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Related Entries:

Nokia’s New E66 – 18 June 2008

T-Mobile Gets A Special Sidekick – 20 June 2008

T-Mobile Gets 2 More Handsets for It’s WiFi Service – 26 June 2008

LG Chocolate 3 Coming Soon – 07 July 2008


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Reality Mine!

CitysenseWe last visited the emerging discipline of Reality Mining towards the end of 2007, in an examination of the work of MIT’s Nathan Eagle’s analysis of the usage patterns and movements of mobile users.

In the last few days there have been a pair of interesting developments in the field. Firstly, a report from the BBC on a large scale study by Albert-László Barabási at Boston’s Northeastern University and secondly, the launch of Sense Network’s Citysense.

Barabási’s work is notable as the author of the seminal book Linked, exploring the science of human networks. Over the course of six months Barabási’s study followed 100′000 individuals randomly selected and anonymised European mobile users. Their calling and messaging habits were logged along with their location, revealing that most people tend to move within 5-10km ranges throughout the course of their day-to-day lives, generally between the same sets of several locations.

Understanding that clusters of people behave similarly has useful implications for analysing traffic and disease control as well as enabling a new generation of commuter information services and criminal intelligence.

Separately, the launch of Citysense is interesting in that it’s perhaps the highest profile, commercial reality mining service currently available. Currently, available only in San Francisco, the service assists users in discovering social hotspots around the city, answering the question – “Where is everybody?”.

Taking in realtime reality-mined data, Citysense utilises public data from Google and Yelp to surface vanues and events and render them on ‘heat-map’ of the city.

As more mobile usage data becomes available to developers and privacy models evolve to help users control their presence, the emerging field of reality mining is set to unlock the real value of mobility and ubiquitous connectivity.

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Born On The Fourth Of July: Openmoko’s Neo FreeRunner

Openmoko’s FreeRunnerLast Friday, pointedly coinciding with Independence Day celebrations in the US, Openmoko launched the latest edition of its open source Neo handsets, the FreeRunner. Unlocked from carriers and running an open OS, the FreeRunner really is a product of independence day and stands in stark contrast to the impending iPhone launch next Friday.

Features such as a tri-band radio, wifi, touch screen, Bluetooth, A-GPS and graphics acceleration are kinda mundane now ,and actually so is open source software. What’s quite unique about the FreeRunner is the remixability of the handset’s physical form factor.

Openmoko has made available downloadable Pro-Engineer format CAD files under a Creative Commons license for the developer community. Sadly, the CAD files aren’t available for lower rent 3D software, which might encourage further experimentation. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how the developer community adapts the insides of FreeRunner to various form factors and application areas.

You can find the CAD files here

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Mobile Messaging: Indian Style


Courtesy of Geekologie

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senseable city of New York


an exhibition about the global exchange of information in real time by visualizing volumes of long distance telephone & IP (Internet Protocol) data flowing between New York & cities around the world. NYTE, short for New York Talk Exchange, reveals the relationships that New Yorkers have with the rest of the world, by asking: How does the city of New York connect to other cities? With which cities does New York have the strongest ties and how do these relationships shift with time?

globe encounters visualizes in real time the volumes of Internet data flowing between New York & other cities around the world. the size of the glow on a particular city location corresponds to the relative amount of IP traffic.

pulse of the planet illustrates the volume of international calls between New York City & 255 countries over the 24 hours in a day. areas of the world receiving & making fewer phone calls shrink while areas experiencing a greater amount of voice call activity expand.

the world inside new york shows how different neighborhoods reach out to the rest of the world via the AT&T telephone network. the widths of the color bars represent the proportion of world regions in contact with each neighborhood.

this work, accomplished with the support of the now extinct Yahoo Design Innovation Team will open at MoMa, New York, on February 24th.

[link: mit.edu|thnkx Marc]

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reading magazines as Google maps


an online interface that allows the browsing & skimming of magazines by a Google maps like interface. pictures, articles & spreads are charted as maps, with the well-known navigation controls on the left top hand side.

[link: zkimmer.com & ricricho.wordpress.com|thnkx tvsnob]

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Cityscape LocativeLab.org is Ronald Lenz's research website on locative & mobile media. This is mostly an archive of blogposts I find inspiring and interesting and an overview of my work. I'm a strategist, technologist and researcher in the field of Location-Based Mobile Services and work at Waag Society, a medialab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where I head the Locative Media research program and at 7scenes, a platform for GPS games and tours as creative director. Picture 4 Find me at Twitter, LinkedIn or via ronald [at] waag [dot] org.

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