Mobile phones - John C. Kirk
Sep. 28th, 2005
09:42 pm - Mobile phones
A few thoughts I've had lately about mobiles - the specific technology involved is a bit outside my area of expertise, so these are all from an end user perspective ("what" rather than "how").
1. When I've been meeting up with people, we often use mobiles for the specifics. E.g. if we're both in Hyde Park, someone might say "I'm halfway between the blue tent and the red pole, ah, I can see you now, can you see me waving?" Could the phone do this automatically? This assumes that both people consent, and that they're with the same phone company (or that there's some co-operation between companies). Presumably my phone company knows where I am, and can triangulate my position based on the nearest beacons, so that they can swap me to a different one when I move around. Ditto for the other person. I realise that they can only narrow it down to a certain area (e.g. 100 square metres), but even so, that would be a good start. The interface could be a bit like a Geiger counter (or the Ghostbusters' PKE meters), where you'd get a stronger signal if your phone was pointing in the right direction, so all you have to do is turn around until you're aiming towards the other person.
2. Because I work in a hospital, I have to keep my mobile switched off during the day; this is (theoretically) to avoid interference with medical equipment. Are the signals really a problem, or is it just paranoia like the petrol station thing? And if it is a problem, could some enterprising person come up with a "work offline" option, so that I could turn my phone on to get at the address book and then call that number from a landline?
3. Why do I have to tell my phone what time it is? There should be some analogue for NTP (the internet's Network Time Protocol), so that it can get that information from the phone company (who obviously know what time it is for billing purposes). A good time to do it would be when I turn the phone on, and it has to do a "handshake" with the phone company to authenticate the SIM card - just get the phone company to say "Ok, you can now make/receive calls on number X, and by the way the time is now such-and-such". Granted, there'd be some backwards compatibility issues, but that shouldn't be a major problem.
4. This is a more specific question - does anyone know how the predictive text works on the Motorola V3 (aka the "Razr Noir" phones)? If I type in a word by pressing each number key once, it will make a reasonable guess at which combination of letters I want, and I can press "Select" to accept that or use the left/right cursor keys to choose a different possibility. That's all fine, but I've noticed that it often suggests the rest of the word in grey (after the black text that I've actually typed). Is there some way to say "Yes, that's the right word", and get the phone to fill it in, rather than me having to type the remaining letters? For instance, if I type "9-2-7-9-4" then it comes up with "Warwickshire." (where "Warwi" is in black and the rest is in grey). It would be handy if I didn't have to type the remaining 7 or 8 keys, but I couldn't find anything relevant in the instruction manual. I'll have to drop in to an Orange shop and ask their "phone trainers" if I can't figure it out.
If anyone with the requisite skills is reading this, feel free to steal these ideas and make a fortune out of them; I'd probably buy the resulting gadget myself.