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Wireless Networking Handhelds Hardware

Tomorrow's 5G Cell Phone 82

Roland Piquepaille writes "According to Mitre computer scientist Joseph Mitola, next-generation cell phones might be cognitive radios (CRs), or software radios learning from interaction with their users and acting in their best interest. InfoWorld talked with him about how his vision of "cognitive radio" would work, and how it could redefine cell phone technology. Mitola said his vision is still about five to 10 years from realization, but that it could mean a sea change as control is shifted from network operators to users. He also said that sending a 10 MB email in a zone where carrier charges are high might cause the CR to alert its user, and suggest waiting until getting to the office to use the LAN instead. Finally, he talked about serious issues like privacy and security. For example, he envisions that video recognition would allow CR cell phones to visually authenticate their owners. Check this column for selected Q&As or read the full InfoWorld's interview."
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Tomorrow's 5G Cell Phone

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  • by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:14AM (#5471039)
    A cell phone that will learn your habits... How bout making a cell phone that recognizes everyone else's habits, and won't ring in movie theaters, board meetings, and classy restraunts?
    Let them ring at comedy festivals tho.. nothing like seeing someone get roasted by a standup for having their cell ring mid-performance.
    • i wonder how hard it would be to reprogram a phone's behaviour by inconspicously swarming the user with a gang of your friends and their improperly programmed phones.. [insert Goatse-style scenario here]

      i'm thinking of menstrual cycles here :\
    • For a technology board we do have some luddites round here.

      They ALL recognise everyone else's habits. That's why they've ALL got off buttons or, if you really can't bear to turn it off, profiles (one of which is called silent).
    • Nokia did some work on context aware cellphones -added IR and light detection to see if could tell when it was in a briefcase and needed to ring louder. Of course, a dark cinema looks almost the same as a dark briefcase to a fairly stupid cellphone, which is why you dont see this in any products...
  • Necessary? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kamukwam ( 652361 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:14AM (#5471040) Journal
    Do we really need all these extra functions on a mobile phone? I still use my phone mostly for calling only. It's still not sure if the next generation mobile phones (3G) will be successful. I think most of the people don't want all these gadgets.
    • Re:Necessary? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by russx2 ( 572301 )
      It's driven by market research - these huge conglomerates don't just develop a product because its "leet"!

      I would wager there is a huge market for this stuff - probably late teenage and the 'professional' young adult.

      I agree it all seems a bit over the top but hey, where there's a market there's a product.
    • Re:Necessary? (Score:3, Interesting)

      I believe that the reason for this innovation in learning user behavior might be considered a breakthrough in technology is just because people don't always want endless features upon features on their cell phones. The truth is that most people still only use their cell phone for *gasp* talking on the phone. That's why this innovation would be technologically significant. As you continued to make decisions about how to use the available 1, 3 or 5G networks that were available, your CR would eventually learn these behaviors and then use the available technology when it made sense.

      Ten years ago, we may have pondered why in the hell anyone would need a wireless phone every where they went, that had free long distance, caller ID and all those things that we were used to getting maybe at work on the corporate LAN, if we were lucky. Now every thirteen year old girl that walks down the street is sporting a neon cell phone with unlimited calling. We may balk at this vision of a "smart cell phone" right now, but that sort of technology may be just what we need in order to merge existing wireless networks into something that truly is useful AND affordable.

      CR: New mail has arrived from "Teeniesinbikinis@aol.com" should I utilize free 56k dialup modem service to download or download at $5.00/min using new 500k bluetooth technology?"
  • by Khalid ( 31037 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:16AM (#5471042) Homepage
    software radios learning from interaction with their users and acting in their best interest.

    Oh no no please not that ! I hate it when a software try to guess what I wan to do, this is the obsession of Billy Gate and it's one reason why Microsoft software sucks. I hate it when Word pretends to guess my formatting or what I want to type, because it's most of the Wrong ! one of the first thing I do is to deactivate the option which makes that possible.
    • Oh no no please not that ! I hate it when a software try to guess what I wan to do, this is the obsession of Billy Gate and it's one reason why Microsoft software sucks.

      Actually, the reason that it sucks is that it (1) doesn't have exceptions for everything and (2) isn't given a hand on every part of the system.

      I hate it when Word pretends to guess my formatting or what I want to type, because it's most of the Wrong ! one of the first thing I do is to deactivate the option which makes that possible.

      Firstly: You can change the default formats in Word if you really want to, and you can undo most of the automatic changes with a backspace. (You can also tell it to not do some things--like those @#$!%ing wizards--and to do others, like correcting em-dashes or making numbered lists.)

      Secondly: There really should be a word processor that doesn't try and do everything, but just hits all of the things that common word-processors do. Spellcheck, autocorrect of punctuation, maybe a grammar-checker, manual application of the RTF (or HTML) formats--and that's IT.

      (And the first person to suggest LaTeX gets slapped.)
    • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @10:17AM (#5471170) Homepage Journal
      Why not? I like when the most and resently used choice in auto-completion URL list or in menu is going up. I like the idea of menu hiding rarely used items until I want a complete list of menu items. I like bayessian mail-filters letting me still to have access to not-in-white-list messages.

      Of course it will take time when word auto-completetion in office major suits will be improved enough to satisfy 99% of users (though it's not that bad already, 80%?). I think OOo and other open-source has more chances to adapt with good quality and speed than MS Word and other proprietary companies. I'll explain.

      I remember back in Rusiia how Microsoft and IBM came with first "russified" (UI translated into Russian) software. People has been laughing all the time and that didn't help their sales. A direct translation into Russian language didn't work: words were either too long to fit the place in UI, or there was no clear direct translation (word-to-word) at all. By the time many of local software companies produced own application, of course with Russian UI. Some has very lucky language, anothers not. What's happened is people begun to use in their daily conversations, user manuals and emails "lucky" russian words and sentencies and ignored "unlucky" ones. In few version-generations the local software market had own new dialect of Russian language, mixed of lucky traslated words, invented new words (or newly used old words) and translittterated English words (writen in Russian letters accordingly to the sound). The democraty won and Microsoft has to use what Russians has created themselves, abondoning the previous too academical choice of own translation.

      How is it realted to Open source? Simple. Opensource software most likely doesn't use the choice of a single authority. Instead, it use "lucky" choices of the community of users and developers. Open source anti-spam filters has more chances than proprietary ones. UI developers of self-adapting components will share the most lucky choices and strategies and less user users will be annoyed by bad adaptation.

      How is it trelated to cell phones? Same way. But there is one problem. Today the software on my cell is proprietary. I agree that protocol drivers should be proprietary. But I want to install UI in my cell like I do with UI on my Linux desktops. I want to change it, reprogram it and adapt it for my own need and habits. 99% of cell users do not know what I am talking about. Many of desktop users don't understand it either - but they still use the result of work of that 1% users who understand enough to change it and who is motivated enough to do it righ.

      Basically, once cell phone UI will be open-sourced - it will adapt and you won't be annoyed.

      BTW, why just UI? Perhaps some guy want to right own protocols. But we talked about UI adaptavity.

    • by arpit ( 193641 )
      I can't let you make that call.
  • by presroi ( 657709 ) <neubau@presroi.de> on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:16AM (#5471047) Homepage
    IIRC, the third generation (G3) was also called UMTS. Two years ago, the German Gov't sold some licences for UMTS via auction (there is no such thing as ebay.germany.de *yet*). The total sale went up to 50 Billion Euros (That was 50 Billion US-$ (German: Millarde, English: Billion).

    This System works still on paper and in some experimental installations (Isle of Man, Austria *g*).

    UK's Vodafone announced last week that the official start of UMTS will delay for several month.

    So this debate is about G5 and everbody is still happy with his/her GSM 900/1800 while marketing campains for G3 will start in a couple of weeks?

    This is so stange.

    Disclaimer: Usually, everybody is invited to call me neophile but not in this particular situation.

    Are rumors correct that in several parts of the US, analog mobile phone is still in use?
    • Often I am stuck with an analog signal on my cell phone in rural areas in the US. Around even smaller cities GSM service is starting to popup but if you want coverage in the middle of nowhere you still need to support analog.

      • but if you want coverage in the middle of nowhere you still need to support analog.


        Middle of nowhere? Why don't you use satelites for digital communication? Let's call it "Iridium".... Oh, wait...
    • Hutchison Telecom, the people who originally set up the Orange mobile phone network in the UK and, I think, Holland, launched their UK-wide 3G network under the freakishly-logoed '3' brand this month. Check www.three.co.uk [three.co.uk] for details.

      Anyone got a clue what they're thinking with that logo?
    • Technology change doesn't happen overnight. Joe Mitola is known as one of the forerunners in Software Radios. I suppose this is just the next step.

      As he says, he estimates that that 5G will be "ready" in 5 to 10 years. Who knows what will happen in that many years?

      What I think this is is a collaboration between Software Radios and Software Agents. And we all know what happened with the Software Agent craze. It's really cool when you think about it, but everyone's been talking about it for so long, and all we've seen so far is vaporware.

  • 5G??! (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:17AM (#5471049) Homepage
    Gee -stop- I'm still using telegraphs -stop- i'm waiting for a decent replacement -stop-
  • Why would I want my cell phone to follow this guys vision of the world.
    are you shure you want to send an e-mail?
    are you really really shure?

    sounds like "clippy" for phones.
  • by dagbrown ( 126362 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:24AM (#5471061) Homepage

    Yay! It's another Slashdot story about cell phones! I can't wait to see a bunch of posts from Americans saying "Do we REALLY NEED all these USELESS FEATURES on our PHONES?"

    What is it about these people? Don't they realize that they, personally, are not being forced to use any of these cool features?

    Bah.

    Personally, I want the coolest damn phone in the world. I want it to play MPEGs, have a high-resolution color--what the hell, 3D--display, Dolby Digital surround sound, a karaoke machine, and a bicycle. I want to be able to program my phone in Java, C++, Ruby, O'Caml, Lisp, and COBOL. I want my phone to be more powerful than my computer. I want to play Quake on my phone. I want it to be a PDA, a Walkman, a camera, an eBook reader, anything they can fit in.

    And I want to punch the next guy who whines "Who NEEDS ALL THESE FEATURES on a PHONE?" in the face.

  • Interface metrics. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mark (ph'x) ( 619499 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:27AM (#5471068)
    Here Mitola mentions a radio that can work with various bands and protocols and a chief benefit is that intelligent software can pick the preferred channel, due to cost or security issues with the various options.

    To me this seems like interface metrics done right. Instead of assigning an arbitary integer to represent the cost of using a particular interface or route, this would allow a more quantative measure of the effect each routing option would have on the traffic (cost to user / security / qos).

    Research like this, if made more generic, would have excellent applications in IP routing. Not just wireless could benefit from this sort of routing power. We have the technology to do this now, but the advantages of a well implemented system would mean it is worth the effort of getting the standards right (and im talking for all IP here, not just wireless).

    I realise that Mitola's idea is from the client point of view, but extending this tech to the whole network would be great IMHO. Every router running this... we could even add in the long wanted factor of link saturation affecting metrics. Oooooh :)
  • Why don't we fully launch the technology that we already have before having another one shoved up us, huh? The same goes for Longhorn, bastard child of Satan that it is.

    Rant over. We shall return to normal ops now, or whatever the hell normal is on /.
  • by satsuke ( 263225 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:30AM (#5471076)
    "For example, he envisions that video recognition would allow CR cell phones to visually authenticate their owners."

    What are they expecting .. to develop identification based on how your ear looks rather than fingerprints?

    Either that or everyone will be walking around with they're handset at arms length trying to keep the little camera trained on they're face to authenticate.

    (the preceeding has been a joke and should be treated as such .. though it might happen)
    • What happens when you try and use it at a fancy dress party?

      "Phone locked, user not recognised"?

      What happens if you have an accident and your face gets messed up, but you need to call for help? ... it'll never work with just image recognition, they'd have to have some way of overriding it.
  • Quote: A cognitive radio would pop up and say, 'Hey, you're only 10 minutes from work, and the enterprise LAN is free. How about if I hold off on the attachment until I get to work?'

    Somehow I doubt service providers will be quick to pick up devices that automatically minimize charges to the user. Since when have service providers acted in the interest of the user? They make the money by catching people out in the details of the plan - night/day minutes, overages, roaming, 1 minute minimums, etc. If the devices get smarter, the networks will have to become more clever about billing:

    Phone: If he finishes the call in under 5 minutes he'll only be using his free minutes! I'd better tell him...

    Network: Shut up! It sounds like his girlfriend is mad at him; he'll need at least another 10 to patch things up...

    Phone: Maybe if I play this sweet music in the background they'll get through it faster!

    Network: Don't you dare, or I'll drop the S/N ratio until they can't hear above the static!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      We need to change the way cell phones are sold in the US.

      The only realistic way for me to buy a new phone for most (all?) service providers is by agreeing to a one or two year service agreement. The providers then would allow me to purchase a phone from a small list of subsidized phones.

      That, frankly, it a shitty way for things to work.

      Instead, the choice of phone and service provider should be decoupled. Landline phones became far more diverse and far less expensive after the era when were rented from AT&T.

      Two of the reasons given to justify the current model are that there are several cell standards, so choosing compatible phones would be difficult, and that phones are expensive, so few people would want to pay the entire cost of a phone up front. Neither of these is sufficient justification. It's easy to choose between CDMA, TDMA, and GSM if you want to purchase your own phone. Also, even though the cost of the phone is high, you pay for it fully either way! Either you pay the entire cost of the phone buried in you $35/month or whatever bill, or you pay it yourself.

      Here's what I think should be done:
  • ...and acting in their best interest.
    pssh - this technology was introduced in 1984.
  • by russx2 ( 572301 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:45AM (#5471097)
    This seems an awfully expensive and unreliable means of authenticating the owner. Sure, 5G phones may come equipped with cameras as standard but then you still have the unreliability element. Unless the recognition is nothing less than spot on then it will be useless - too leniant and it'll be easy to get in, too strict and it'll lock out real users - not great!

    If this is a supposed method of helping to prevent theft it seems a bit of a waste of time. The software could have the most advanced facial recognition in the world but the weaklink is usually the chipable phone hardware.

    Thieves have passwords and such to contend with at the moment and this seems to do nothing to hamper theft - they're using fancy gadgets and chips to get around passwords, it'll be no different for user photos.
  • Where to begin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:51AM (#5471110)
    Not to be negative; visions of the future are always interesting, but there are so many problems with this idea.

    It's solving some problems that don't exist, for example. Does Mitola really think that five or ten years out there will be 3G access that costs $1/minute? I wireless access will be next to free in most urban environments (in his example the setting is a subway). And $1/minute is not next to free, even if inflation kicks in.

    Heart monitors... does he mean pacemakers? One problem with upgrading them is the installation can be a bit inconvenient.

    Police using a cognitive radio system? Most police already have radio systems. These systems have multi-decade life spans, and take many years to roll out. So there's another installed base problem there.

    And do we need a cognitive model and actual user interaction when higher voice quality is needed? If designers really want to give users access to that knob, it might be more simple to make it just an up-front option when the call is placed.

    Another problem is a lot of the analysis assumes the current world of artificial wireless bandwidth scarcity and high prices. But that could change. Mesh networks could allow devices to create their own wireless infrastructure, with no access charges, obviating fancy tricks for saving money.

    Then there's the face recognition for authentication scenario, where the user is wounded on the battlefield. What happens when the user is in the dark, in a dust storm, has hypothermia so the temperature sensor (required so a photo can not be used) doesn't work, or when the user is wearing cold weather gear that covers the face? A good way to determine if a concept is effectively useless is to ask yourself: how many times a year is this scenario going to happen to the average user? If the answer is less than 1, don't count on seeing that concept in any products any time soon. "Imagine you're an african american police officer and your partner is irish, and you are being held hostage in the back seat of your patrol car and you can see your phone through the rear view mirror... the criminal leaves the car for a minute, but the good guys don't know that because it happens to be a foggy day... now in this exact scenario, xyz technology will save the day!" This scenario fails the test of usefulness, because this situation simply does not happen that often.

    Now if Mitola wants to solve a -real- problem of wireless device users, like how to convert any music to a ringtone and download it free to -any- phone, in reality (no links please; they are all vaporware... did you notice the word ANY?) then he might have something. But in the meantime he seems like a guy with a hammer trying to find a nail.

    • Another problem is a lot of the analysis assumes the current world of artificial wireless bandwidth scarcity and high prices. But that could change. Mesh networks could allow devices to create their own wireless infrastructure, with no access charges, obviating fancy tricks for saving money.

      You noticed that too, eh? They're projecting forward "five to 10 years" and yet they assume the antiquated cell-tower broadcast scheme will still be dominate. The telco monopoly sure won't last THAT long in the face of better tech.

      Partial Open Spectrum [greaterdemocracy.org] and adhoc wireless mesh networking is a much more likely evolution. Though I expect we'll still be calling the devices "cell phones" out of habit.

      --

  • Visual recognition wouldn't be that hard to fool.

    Kevin Mitnick holds up a glossy picture of someone we all know...

    "Authenticated: President Bush... linkup complete"
  • That's 4G.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Czernobog ( 588687 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @09:58AM (#5471116) Journal
    The guy is living with his head in the clouds...
    Shifting control focus to the user from the core network is the main technological difference between 3G and 4G. The other being that 3G exists (for those in the UK, Huthcinson 3G will be the ones first to mass market - the new "three" videophones -) and 4G is still in its design stages.
    There is a 4G forum (ala 3GPP), but everything else is sketchy. As far as the network capabilities, the guy really doesn't know what he's talking about. UMTS/IMT2000 theoretically goes up to 2Mb/sec, you'll be lucky if it's as fast as dual ISDN in real life. There's also plans to have wireless interfaces with Hiperlan/2, WiFi and ATM, up to 155Mb/sec, only these schemes will probably be happening at the same time when man goes to Mars; at least 15 years from now, just in time with the then newly introduced 4G.
    The 5-10 year rollout estimation, considering the success GSM has enjoyed (will be here for at least the next 15-20 years) and the very slow and limited rollout of 3G, is way off base. In 5-10 years 3G will still be the service the companies will be trying to sell us to replace GSM.
    Now as far as telling the user "wait till you get to the office for that 10 meg download", the restriction is not price, but the radio access network. Maybe we'll be able to reach similar speeds by then, but mobility will be close to zero. In other words, you'll have multimedia with a low factor of mobility (say public transport, British rail, walking) but at high speeds (say Eurostar, SNCF) it's highly unlikely to be able to get anything like multimedia. Obviously for a 10 meg file you shouldn't even be walking. How convenient that they'll tell you to receive it at the office, because of the price...

  • He also said that sending a 10 MB email in a zone where carrier charges are high might cause the CR to alert its user, and suggest waiting until getting to the office to use the LAN instead

    Why do I get the feeling that we haven't seen the last of clippy yet?

    "It seems you're going to screw yourself on bandwidth costs. Would you like some help?"
  • From the post: "... but that it could mean a sea change as control is shifted from network operators to users".

    I think this is clearly wrong. The only real shift of control back to the user/people would be a mobile ad hoc network with entry points for a long distance carrier, not some "warning you're using the telephone network" system or something similar. Peer-to-Peer-Phones, essentially.

    But this technology seems to be delayed by the big telcos fearing loss of control and loss of the reason that they exist...

    This is essentially the same in the non-mobile-sector. We now have a rather hierarchical, central internet infrastructure.

    But we all know that.
    I just wanted to point out that companies (esp. comm. sector) giving "control back to the user" is not the case most of the times.
  • He also said that sending a 10 MB email in a zone where carrier charges are high might cause the CR to alert its user
    Then again, it also might just send it anyway, as this would ensure greater profit to the carriers. In fact, it may hold messages until it can transmit them at a certain price.
  • by Nexum ( 516661 )
    Good luck waiting for G5, us Apple users have been gagging for it for the last two years.

    -Nex.
  • I get lousy cellphone coverage at my house. And I'm pessimistic that this "congnitive" functionality would help much...instead, I'd just have something else to blame: "aw man, my phone must be retarded..."
  • MIT Project Oxygen (Score:2, Interesting)

    by megazoid81 ( 573094 )
    Much work has been done at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science under a pervasive computing project called Project Oxygen (it's plentiful, it's free and you can't live without it - get it?)

    One of the components of an Oxygen network is the anyonymous handheld device, which is essentially a generic device that can turn into any device one wants. When one picks up a handheld, it recognizes one's face and turns into 'their' handheld by downloading their contacts, their schedule and so on. The handhelds also use voice recognition technology to do various useful things, e.g. "Call home..." Upon getting this voice command, the handheld morphs into a cellphone and begins to dial the line to the entitiy called "Home" in your address book. Clearly - lots of interesting issues here, including all the nifty recognition technology as well as general enough hardware to support devices simulating each other. All this and more info and videos at Project Oxygen [mit.edu]

    I agree that no one is forcing the whiners to use all the extra functionality in a cellphone. We are moving more towards an age where people carry one device to do everything and not a cellphone, PDA and a pager.

  • What a great idea!

    You get beaten up, you can't call the cops or an ambulance, because your phone refuses to recognize you.

    Unless we add algorithms that adjust for blackened eyes, broken nose, bruises, cuts, missing teeth and bite marks...

    In other words, the phone beats you up, virtually, when you enter your face in its user database.
  • But I would pay extra for a phone network that doesn't drop calls and garble speech. I'd also pay for a phone with a surface that makes it easier to hold on to, so when you flip it open like the cool people on TV it doesn't fall to the ground and break. Maybe this will come along in 9G or 12G.
  • Eddie anyone ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @01:42PM (#5472067) Homepage

    I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who when they hear "learn from your habits and be more helpful" thinks of Eddie from Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy. The ultimate in friendly and helpful and the sort of computer you want to take an axe to in 30 seconds.

    A mobile phone with the usability of the MS Paperclip, now f--kin thank you.
  • This is ridiculous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by philipkd ( 528838 )
    This is like all those companies who base everything on "personalization modules" or "customizable agents" that are supposed to alert you to coupons when you pass by movie theaters. People have been talking about making these "tailored" or "push" like experiences for years with nothing to show. I hate guided tours, why do I want a computer attempting to kiss my ass everywhere I turn. I spank that computer's ass and tell it what to do. Not vice-versa.

    - philipd
    Suicide is the true mark of an advanced civilization

  • The term 'Cognitive Radio' that Mr. Mitola uses isn't a new idea. The ultra-wideband concept touches on it, and I've been wondering for a LONG time (like 5 years now) why I haven't seen any products along this line. We've had LOTS of ISM bands and other publically-usable frequencies available for right now... and in the future, intelligent devices may do away with spectrum assignment anyhow. Let me explain.

    The best phrase I can come up with to describe this idea would be 'intelligent rf multifrequency use'. Basically, software and hardware are to the point that a radio device should be able to detect signals in the bands around it, and select unused frequencies dynamically to bond together for communication. Setting aside current frequency restrictions, the idea is that I can take a swath of bandwidth, for instance, say 100mhz to 5ghz. I can utilize ALL of this spectrum for my communications. But, because different frequency bands have different propagation capabilities and may require different power needs, they may not all be suitable. Much as Mr. Mitola says, the software can detect what is available and use it. It's up to the software to determine that it is attempting to communicate to a base station 10 miles away, therefore it needs to boost power output to X level on certain bands, Y power level on other bands, and not use certain bands that may fall within this swath of bandwidth because they're already occupied. This is the UWB concept writ large; intelligent devices allow us to forego spectrum allocation in preference of allowing devices to do this for us.

    The second part of this is what exists now. We have several frequency ranges used for different types of communication.. 2.4ghz for 802.11b, 1900, 1800 and 900mhz for GSM/CDMA/TDMA, 5ghz for 802.11a, and 9 and 11ghz spectrum bands for other protocol standards. A device which can pass packets to a handler that chooses the best path for them based on availability, cost, latency, reliability, etc. isn't that difficult.. it's just a matter of getting it done. For now, the first products I expect to see are dual-band APs and dual-band NICs (e.g. Linksys or someone coming out with a 2.4/5 hybrid that only works with their own equipment, proprietary, since there's not a standard for it (YET!!!!)). Next would be an intelligent device that can communicate with the major network systems, pick the best, most reliable, and fastest path(s) and send data across them. For instance, a device that can talk GPRS, 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g, and so on... and pick which transport is the most suitable to the application and the environment.

    What the next generation of wireless systems needs to be is an open platform. If a hardware vendor would get a clue, realize that by modularizing the systems instead of trying to integrate everything, making standard interfaces between the modules, document the interfaces between the modules well, and write a GOOD API for their phone, they'd see a market open up that they haven't even considered yet. The wireless phone manufacturers are stuck in the 'phone-centric' world, where data is an addon and isn't a core function of the device, and the PDA folks think that voice is secondary, and tend to overlook things like usability for features. So you compromise. Make a phone with standard, modular systems (GPRS handler, 802.11b handler, 802.11a handler, IP handler, GSM handler, CDMA handler, etc) and develop the interface based on embedded software (Linux!), and let the imaginations of the world's free markets make your device take off. By standardizing the interfaces, documenting them, and not treating the phone as a 'closed system' like most celphones nowadays still are (starting to change a little, but not much), you open the system to the smaller innovators who can create things for your phone that you've never thought possible.

    It boils down to a few core ideas.
    1. An open hardware platform with an embedded OS and interface capability for third party software, as long as it is ergonomic, compact, light, and so on, and HIGHLY USABLE!!!, will drive the market for this device like the 3com folks did when the Palm Pilot first came out. Without all of the software for the palm pilot available on the web, its' functionality would be severly limited, and it would never have gotten as popular as it is today. Palm started the movement, now most of the PDAs on the market have this ability.

    2. Use of multiple frequencies, which are selected by software, will be the driving factor for the tech industry for quite a while. By developing intelligent devices which can auto-allocate their needed bandwidth and are POLITE with each other, eventually spectrum allocation can be phased out. No more bandwidth auctions ;-) (poor FCC)

    3. In the current market, there is an immediate opportunity for the development of a multi-frequency transport system. Be it bonded-together 802.11b and a, or whatever, it'll come to be. Especially if you can take the concepts used in IMA (or any inverse multiplexing type of scheme) and combine multiple smaller frequency swaths into one big pipe... 54mbps + 11mbps, and it'll work when either one is present at whatever rate it can get. I'm limiting myself to big-market tech at the moment, but this sort of idea could include Ricochet and any of the other pre-existing proprietary wireless networks out there, if they'll hop on the bandwagon.

    4. There is also a current need for the development of 'available-frequency' systems. FCC regs be damned, with intelligent devices which adhere to pre-defined standards, frequency allocation isn't necessary. Automatic selection of band ranges will become commonplace; but right now it needs to be pioneered, and we just can't leave it to Bell Labs or MIT to come up with it... with the right minds, this could be solved today.

    What this whole diatribe boils down to is simple. I want a phone with a qwerty keyboard, that can talk to any ip-capable device and merely act as an ip gateway (e.g. using ir or bluetooth to let a laptop use your cellphone to talk IP wirelessly). Applications capability, for IM apps such as AIM or Yahoo Msgr and other ip-capable software, a standard media type (such as CompactFlash or SmartMedia) on which all of your information short of the phone's ID number(s) and other key configuration details is stored. Pop your SmartMedia drive into your pc's card reader, download your Outloook Address book to it, etc etc. With bluetooth, you could do it wirelessly.

    It's not that hard. The idea is simple. The components are sufficiently advanced. The problem is the companies are too busy trying to give the user what they think the user wants instead of letting the user have access to it all and letting the user decide what he needs to use.

    With wet dreams of my 21G device dancing in my head.....

    -cheezus_es_lard.
  • In the year 2000, face recognition has all but demolished the epidemic of cheap friends borrowing cell phones to "check in." On the bad side, your complete vanity has you subscribing to the "face of the month" face transplant [slashdot.org] club, forcing you to spend several hours each month convincing the phone company that you are NOT a thief, just incredibly shallow.
  • by Parsec ( 1702 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @11:03PM (#5474509) Homepage Journal

    ... of picking up a small appliance and having it (literally) tell you "I'm yours."

    Seriously, though... this could be the start of whole new avenues of creating brand loyalty through psychological manipulation. "CowboyNeal, all the other phones are laughing at you. I'm the only one you can count on."

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