Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Regardless of the trade show, you'll always find "cool stuff" that makes you say "now that's a great idea!" CTIA WIRELESS was no exception when it came to cool factor.

First, Yahoo! is launching its new onesearch 2.0 for mobile phones that promises to offer easier search, better results, and voice integration. The latter point is the most interesting, in my view. With this feature, you can not only type in your desired search words, but also dictate them orally. Say the requested search term, like "restaurants, las vegas" or "ctia show", and Yahoo! will search its server, while also sending back a confirmation note to double check that it heard you correctly. If you want to try it out, the service is already available in trial for owners of select Blackberry devices at I haven't been able to try it out just yet (since I don't own a Blackberry), but it'll be interesting to hear some feedback on how well it works.

Did you ever think a mobile phone could be used as a medical alert device? If not, you'd be surprised to hear about MyRapidMD, which provides an application that can be sent to your mobile phone, and includes all of your pertinent medical information in case of an emergency, like blood type, known allergies, and serious medical conditions. The company is working with mobile phone carriers and manufacturers, as well as first responders, in an effort to deploy the technology globally. Here's how it works: sign up for an account online: a lifetime subscription is US$19.95 and there's a US$5.95 renewal fee every year. Enter all of your details, and upload a recent photo. Then enter your mobile phone number, and send to any Java or Web-enabled phone. The information arrives in the form of a Web link as a text message: click the link, download the app, and away you go! It will either appear as an icon right on the home screen (it looks like a little asterisk); or may end up in the "games and applications" folder, depending on the particular phone. In the event of an emergency, first responders can find this information on your phone and use it to both identify and treat you accordingly. How will they know that you're a subscriber? When you sign up, you receive a slew of items, including a sticker that can be adhered to the back of your phone, a wallet card, keychain, car window sticker, and 'fridge magnet. If you're weary about leaving your private information "out in the open", so to speak, you can set the details to "private", at which point a first responder will be given a 1-800 phone number to call. Once he provides your subscriber number to the call centre rep, he'll gain access to the pertinent information. If this system saves even one life, it makes sense.

Another neat product that caught my eye is the backup pal (US$49.99), a little circular doo-hickey that, as the company's signgage indicated, is so simple, "even a monkey can use it". What does it do? Backs up up to 4,000 contacts from a mobile phone so that, if you switch phones, or your mobile gets lost or stolen, you can easily import the information back into a new phone. The device comes with six adapters, including ones for Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola phones, as well as a mini USB connector, which lets you connect other popular handsets, like the BlackBerry. All you need to do is connect your phone, hit the large "back-up" button, and wait. When you get a new phone, connect it and hit "restore to phone" to upload all the contacts from the device. backup pal is powered by 3 "AAA" batteries, and uses flash memory so that the information always remains safely stored, even when the batteries have depleted. $50 for peace of mind makes sense!

Finally, I was strangely drawn to a display called PetsMobility, which claims to be the first cell phone for your dog. Huh? What it really is is a waterproof GPS collar that uses the CDMA network to provide tracking information on your pet's whereabouts. Using computer software, you can establish a "geo-fence", i.e. a perimeter in which your beloved creature is not permitted to go beyond. If it does, you can be notified via your mobile phone, then use the PawTrax tracking system to find the animal. As strange as this device sounds, I can somehow manage it flying off store shelves.

As for the image above, it really has nothing to do with anything written here, but I had to give the company kudos for finding a unique way to get people's attention at the show. Yeehaw for wireless!

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