OUI

The Wireless FAQ

1.5 What is a good service for the mobile internet?

Obviously, services that you use while being "mobile" are in general better suited for the mobile internet than the classic "web". Some great applications are starting to emerge, but this is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

This section will feature some ideas on applications (so called "killer apps") that will benefit from the mobile internet.

Location based services

In general Location Based Services are services that basically know where you are located in the world, and can provide information relevant to this position. In the very near future, a mobile device will be able to tell a web server where it is. But, if you can't wait, you could simply just ask the user.

A good example of this, is a service that displays the location of different types of public transport in a city. Let's say you're running to the bus stop, late for a meeting, and since buses are never on time, you need to find out if the bus has just left the stop, or is just ten minutes late.

At the bus stop there's usually a time table, but this one has a unique number printed on it. You access the public transportation site, and key in the number. The web server at the other end then knows exactly where you are, and can display the location of the nearest bus since the bus has a GPS system on board. Here in Oslo, the capital of Norway, we have, in addition to buses, subway, trams and trains. The buses do currently not have GSP on board, but some of the trams have. The subway and the trains do not, but their locations are known via the subway and train control center. In short, this system can be enabled today without having to wait for any new technology.

When the technology becomes available to obtain a user's location automatically, a good location based service would be a city parking service. Instead of having a normal parking meter, you'll have a board with instructions and again a unique number for each parking lot. When you want to park, you simply tell the system which exact spot you want to pay for, and for how long you want to pay. When there's five minutes left of your time, the system sends you an SMS saying that you either need to move your car or pay more. If you leave early, you can optionally tell the system this, and you end up paying for exactly the time you spend. The system now knows pretty much which parking spots are available and which isn't. For instance in London, where there's some ten spots for each car, the system can tell you where the nearest available parking spot is because it knows where you are, and it knows where the available spots are. To check that people are not cheating the system, the meter maids :-) now tell the system which lot they want to check and the system will be able to tell them exactly where there's supposed to be a car, and where there shouldn't be one.

How often have you been stuck in a traffic jam just a few miles from where you normally exit the motorway. Do you stay on the motorway and hope that the queue clears up in a few minutes, or do you exit immediately and take another route? In England, most of the major motorways have traffic cameras that can help you look ahead at the traffic. Simply by telling a system roughly where you are, for instance by telling it the motorway number and the nearest junction, the system can bring up an image of the traffic ahead.

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