The How Zone

Cellphone Locating


With your current location available there's no end to what could be done. Hotel chains like Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, and others could offer public web services much like Google and Amazon provide. This would allow us to pass in a location (or series of them for route searching) and get back nearby results. I wrote applications like this years ago using the same technology that powers these hotel search engines.

In retrospect I could have also made a mobile blogging tool using pretty much the same tools. No camera in the phone, so it would have been a text only moblog.

Something else I did with the phone's SMS was remote temperature monitoring. Since Virgin Mobile doesn't charge for incoming SMS I decided to send messages to the phone with the inside and outside temperature and humidity at the house. In the morning and at the end of the day we'd get a message that looked like:

Out: -15
In1: 58, 35
In2: 56, 32

The In1 & In2 are temperature and humidity, upstairs and downstairs. This let us fully appreciate the 70 degree Florida temperatures we were enjoying while making sure the house didn't freeze solid or the pipes burst (humidity would rise suddenly). This was accomplished by a cron task that queried the weather database and sent an email to the phone.

The Virgin Mobile phone worked very well. It only works on Sprint PCS networks, which means no roaming but that didn't seem to be a problem on this trip. The only place there wasn't a signal was in a national park in South Carolina. Along the interstate and in the big cities there was always enough signal to send and receive text messages. It cost ten cents to send a message.

BTW, if you are interested in location technology and the internet, be sure to check out my friend Marty's article on Local Search. It can also be found in the February issue of IEEE Computer.

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