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Most services today are based either on Short Message Service (SMS) or Voice Response Technology (VRT). Just coming on stream are services using the latest Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).
Supermarket company Safeway launched (December 1998) a home shopping service for customers without a PC. Users use a palm-sized device for ordering groceries but at the announcement date had yet to decide what charge, if any, to make for the device.
Rival supermarket company Tesco also offers a similar system, however, at £300 each, the take-up has been minimal. Other developments are in the pipe-line.
See Virgin below.
In Helsinki you can buy a can of Coke from some machines simply by entering a few digits on your mobile. The cost is added to your phone bill.
Many banks offer mobile banking services. NatWest Bank's Lifestyle is a service for One2One customers allowing them to check balances and review recent transactions. Recently it was reported taking to Orange about a similar service. Co-operative Bank and Barclaycard both have similar services, though the latter is tied to a specific phone provided by Cellnet.
In February 2000 The Woolwich announced its offering which will be part of its integrated multi-channel Open Plan service. This latest offering will add mobile to existing bricks and mortar, telephone and internet banking services, and later in the year there will be TV banking. The mobile offering is in partnership with Vodafone and begins with 100 customers using Nokia 7110 WAP phones. Customers will be able to view balances, pay bills, transfer money etc. It comes with the usual extras like news feeds, weather and sport, and these are to be provided by i2mobile.com who in turn will source from Reuters and others. For security reasons, customer access will not be via the internet but direct from Vodafone to Woolwich's WAP servers but just to be safe there is full 128 bit encryption as well.
Olympic Worldlink has created a financial system running on Windows CE that allows city traders to keep track of the state of the market when outside the office. Standard and Poors data is compressed in real time and sent to HP 620 PDAs where it is stored on flash cards and then displayed.
A bank in Finland will tell you where its nearest cash machine is and give you instructions how to get to it.
Audio.com will download talking books to Compaq's Aero 2130 PDA.
Virgin Mobile will connect its users into Virgin's retail music portals owned by Virgin Radio and Our Price records. Virgin is also looking at how the its mobiles could be used to unlock encrypted MP3 music that a user has previous downloaded into a MP3 player.
Associated News Media will also offer a news service to Orange customers.
In October 1998 the BBC was also taking to mobile networks about making news headlines available to mobile users, especially financial news for business users.
GRIC Communications has a news, travel and local information portal that is available to Psion Series 5mx PDA users. AvantGo.com provides a similar service for Palm Pilot and Windows CE users. Audio.com can download news broadcasts to Compaq's Aero 2130 PDA.
Douglas Adams, the author of the famous Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, has recently (Dec. 99) helped to launch a mobile information service, called H2G2, based on the personal information device used by the intrepid explorers in his book.Using hundreds of unpaid enthusiasts as well as commercial information resources, they are building a database of facts and figures to help the lost or just plain inquisitive traveller. The system uses WAP technology to deliver the data to the latest WAP enabled mobile phones. You can view a presentation to the First Tuesday Group. See also the Digital Village, the organisation behind the venture.
ITN has made a deal with Orange to provide news headlines plus up to 2 pages of details for each story.
Microsoft is extending its MS Network to support mobiles under the name MSN Mobile. It is partnering with various US mobile operators so they can us MSN Mobile as their own brand portal.
Thomson's directory will be available to Orange users.
Unisys has developed a voice activated and speaking yellow pages system in the Minneapolis area. Users can say commands like "give me a list of pizza restaurants". Video recorder commands like back, re-wind can be given. Having selected an entry, the user can then command the system to dial the number. The system has been developed with software from Nuance, a Californian company, and a leader in the field. Other Nuance customers include American Airlines, Odeon Cinemas and Charles Schwab
|The RAC will warn motorists of traffic
The AA, the UK motorists' service organisation, provides information to Vodafone's Personal Roadwatch 1800 and also to Orange's customers. A small device attached to the dash-board shows traffic jams up to 3 motorway junctions ahead and 15 miles (24 km) away on most major trunk roads. The device costs £30.
Lastminute.com will provide details of cheap air-flights to users of WAP enabled mobiles, but users will have to make a voice call to book the ticket. BT Cellnet was the first to sign-up.
Scandinavian Airways (SAS) offers a flight information and reservation service to users of WAP enabled phones. It is currently being tried with corporate customers who are able to book ticketless travel, but eventually all travellers will have this facility. Eventually, travellers may also be able to get travel information regarding delayed flights.
Virgin Mobile will connect its users to Virgin Rail.
Avant.Go offers Palm Pilot and Windows CE users users free access to the web and to its own portal. It uses compression techniques and screen comparison to speed up web access.
BT and Microsoft are planning to offer a managed mobile data service for business users. Based on hand-held devices and mobiles running Windows CE operating system, the service will provide email, calendaring, web access and access to corporate server applications running with MS Exchange. It will initially run on BT Cellnet's global GSM mobile network making it available within the whole of Europe. A trial with more than 1,000 corporate customers was planned for October 1999. A full roll-out is planned for mid 2000.
Cellnet has a service whereby PC users can send Short Message Service (SMS) text messages to mobile phone users.
Talking Emails: Many companies now offer this service. They include CompuServe and Martin Dawes Communications. Many of the services also allow users to forward the emails to a local fax machine and to send a reply.
Microsoft's Exchange e-mail software can be configured, via a rule, to send an e-mail notification, along with the subject line, to a user's mobile or PDA by means of the SMS facility.
Web based Calendaring is becoming popular as the number of PDAs and mobile phones increase. They have the advantage of creating a single calendar available from any place at any time and with permission can be accessed by other to make joint meetings. Early entrants included www.appoint.net and www.when.com.
Balfor Imbach provides its insurance field staff with Sharp handhelds equipped not only with the standard with keyboards and stylus but also miniature cameras. They can write their reports, annotate with pictures, and then send to BI's Insurance Loss Assessors via a mobile phone. As a result, customers, who are often in traumatic circumstances, get a fast decision.
Blick National equips its 200 field engineers with Psion Workabouts linked via the RAM mobile data network, replacing an inefficient and costly mobile phone and pager based system. They also reduced their call centres from 11 to 4. Engineers automatically receive information about their next calls. Besides better control of cost, management also receive real time information on call progress and engineer utilisation.
The Commonwealth Development Association uses Toshiba Libretto's and Sony Vaio sub-notebooks (£1135+vat) running Windows 98 to give its investment advisors access to the corporate databases via the internet into their intranet. When in the office they link to the intranet by using Proxim wireless LAN.
Derbyshire Constabulary (Police) in 1995 adopted Apple Newtons so police officers could write a crime incident report at the scene. Reports take on average just 20 minutes compared to over an hour when completed back at base. By using the Newton in conjunction with a mobile phone they are able to access the Police National Computer. They are now moving to Windows CE devices.
At the RAC, one of the UK's major motoring organisations, their vehicle inspectors use Casio 2400 PA handheld devices to write their reports. One benefit over paper is that the PDA doesn't get soggy in the rain! Another benefit is better quality due to the application giving a better structure to the report write-up.
TNT, the courier company, equips its couriers with Symbol PDT 300s to record sales, deliveries and collections. The data is sent via the RAM mobile data network.
Warrington Community Health Trust provide their health workers with Casio Cassiopeia A/20s running Windows CE and a bespoke application to collect information on patients. Initially download times were up to 3 hours via a serial cable but dropped to 10mins when an ethernet card was used.
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