22 October 2006

‘Presence’ technology building cell phones to anticipate your mind

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Presence Technology
“Cell phones that know where you are, what you’re doing and can anticipate your very needs was a popular subject in 2003 and is back in the headlines following an article last week in The Chicago Tribune”, writes Emily Turrettini on her popular blog textually.org.

A new generation of cell phones that know where you are, what you’re doing and anticipate what you’ll like is being developed in labs and tested in markets around the world.

Industry designers hope to strike a balance between a gadget that will learn enough to please its owner without becoming annoying.

“We want it like having a concierge in your pocket, not Big Brother,” said Martin Dunsby, senior vice president with Openwave Systems Inc., a wireless software firm.

Called “presence” technology, the new gadgetry is intended to make portable devices easier to use.

The system will combine knowledge about where someone’s phone is with his calendar schedule so, for example, it can send incoming calls to voice mail when she’s in a conference. Eventually, the system may turn up her home heating system 10 minutes before arrival.

IBM researchers last month announced a test in collaboration with Telenor, a Norwegian telecom.

“There are a lot of sensors and information sources,” said Vova Soroka, research manager for IBM’s lab in Haifa, Israel. “They have motion sensors and biosensors of all kinds. You could even tell from a sensor in the phone whether someone is walking or bicycling.”

While there’s no simple way to design a device that will cater to owners without stalking or bugging them, Soroka said one key is allowing customers to opt in to services.

Read full story (Chicago Tribune)

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