NextGen handsets ready to double up as health trackers

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:54 am    Post subject: NextGen handsets ready to double up as health trackers Reply with quote

NextGen handsets ready to double up as health trackers

by Kalyan Parbat

You’re driving to work with a nasty chest congestion. Imagine a mobile phone that warns you well in advance of an approaching high-pollution zone. Sensing the inner state of your respiratory system, it sends an SMS alert, suggesting a cleaner alternate route. No science fiction this.

Mobile phones are about to hit the next level — beyond speech, text or images, where unprecedented levels of interactivity with the user and his environment will be the name of the game.

At the vanguard of such seminal cellular research is the University of Cambridge, which is close to inking a technology agreement in January ’07 with one of the world’s top mobile phone makers to unfurl the next wave of truly ‘interactive cellphones’. This was confirmed by professor Mark E Welland, director, Nanoscience Centre at the University of Cambridge, in an exclusive chat with ET.

Prof Welland was in town to attend the first-ever Indo-UK nanotechnology conference in the city on Wednesday. ET caught up with him shortly after he addressed the valedictory session.

“The University of Cambridge is exploring a technology partnership with one of the world’s leading mobile phone makers to come up with the next-genernation of cell phones. I cannot disclose the name of the vendor before a formal agreement which is scheduled in January ’07. The partnership promises to extend the ability of the mobile to unprecedented levels to interact with the local environment, including the user,” said Mr Welland.

“We’re talking about the next wave of mobile phones that are likely to come with built-in sensors and GPS devices capable of monitoring the environment to even personal health tracking. Picture mobile phones capable of generating instant SMS alerts for users on the move based on their personal health history.

Sensors capable of tracking pollution levels or even the pollen count of a specific location for users allergic to pollen or even the peanut vapour levels in the air,” explained the nanotechnology professor from Cambridge. Mr Welland believes the upcoming innovation will herald a definitive “step change” for the ubiquitous mobile phone, beyond mere “speech and text” and redefine interactivity levels between cell phone and user.

Incidentally, much of the future mobile phone-centric research partnerships between Cambridge and technology MNCs will be in the realm of nanotechnology. It’s common wisdom that nanoscience is often used loosely to describe innovation associated with microscopic dimensions. The latest developments also come at a stage when nanotechology is slated to leave an indelible imprint on the global IT and telecom stage.


This story was first posted on 27th November 2006.
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