Low-Tech Ideas Bring Smart Abilities to Feature Phones
The majority of the world uses feature phones, or cellphones of the generation before smartphones. Now researchers are looking to develop some smarter abilities for those non-smartphones.
CREDIT: Photo from the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Simple cellphones may not be so… non-smart after all. Two systems under development look to add smart abilities to simple cellphones, including location-based weather reports, navigation help and file sharing, the New Scientist reported. The systems will bring these features to the majority of cellphone users around the world, who don't use smartphones. Plus, research on these systems may ultimately benefit smartphone users, too.
The majority of the world cellphone users have so-called "feature phones," or the last generation of cells before smartphones. That's especially true in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, according to the New Scientist. Even in North America, 37 percent of cellphone users have feature phones. Feature phones are affordable for middle- and low-income families, and they can be popular in communities that don't have access to other technology, such as computers.
The first smarter feature phone idea helps friends share files over Bluetooth, by predicting when a friend with a desired file will be nearby. A team of scientists from research centers in India are working on the system, which they've named MobiShare.
The second idea uses a cellphone network technology called Cell Broadcast Service to provide functions that work like location-based smartphone apps. The Indian team wrote software that uses Cell Broadcast Service data, plus Google Maps data that's accessible over regular cellular networks, to provide rough coordinates for phones. The coordinates aren't accurate enough for turn-by-turn navigation, but they are able to point out landmarks to help people find their way, one of the software's developers, Kuldeep Yadav, told the New Scientist. Yadav is a graduate student at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in Delhi.
In the future, Yadav and his team plan to study how their Cell Broadcast Service idea may reduce smartphones' reliance on GPS for localizing phones, without sacrificing precision. The move away from GPS will save battery, Yadav said.
Source: New Scientist