Friday, February 29, 2008

The ZZZPhone – An Open Mobile Phone Platform

As I posted in last week’s blog the mobile phone is the ideal platform for data acquisition and monitoring due to its ability to bring a wide range of sensors into one handheld. Through wireless capability, collected data can be streamed to a server for further analysis, storage, and display. This week, the ZZZphone takes us one step closer by opening up the mobile phone to individual applications. The New York Times recently posted an article about the ZZZphone touting the phone’s ability to replicate features of all the major phones on the market but giving the customer the ability to customize the phone.

In the early days of the PC, customers would buy a PC and then bring it to me and ask, what applications can I run with it? As the PC industry grew, it started offering choices to customers letting them choose the memory, hard drive space, display and more. Customers grew wise to the situation and started asking, “if I want to build this application, what features should I buy on my next PC purchase?” The same question now applies to the mobile phone. What features are needed to run my application on the mobile phone?”

The ZZZphone draws from Dell for its inspiration for mass customization. Customization features include:

Batteries
GPS
Pre-installed software
Camera (multiple resolution choices)
Monitoring
TV receiver
Memory upgrade

In a few years imagine ordering a phone for a measurement and automation application. Options to choose from would include type of sensors such as: optical, thermal, accelerometer, etc. Maybe a rugged enclosure for an additional fee for harsh environments or even an extra processor for signal processing applications on the phone could be choices. What about a range of choices of wireless plans based on the volume of data and geographic coverage? As in most emerging technologies, a few of the pieces are available today, but not all of them. It’s an interesting space to watch.

Best regards,
Hall T.

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