Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

DVD beaming (and washing machines)...idea #60/100...

DVD players could be equipped with Bluetooth in order to beam information to nearby movie watchers. A DVD could include a URL that points to a microsite, or it could contain the entire microsite itself and allow nearby mobiles to surf directly without incurring data costs.

Let's say that I'm watching 24 on DVD. Surfing the microsite could allow me to download the "famous" 24 ringtone.

Of course, it probably makes more sense to equip the TV itself with Bluetooth and allow for the possibility of accessing mobile content from any video source, not just DVDs.

With the rapidly decreasing cost of Bluetooth chipsets, I wonder how long before electrical goods manufacturers start thinking about incorporating Bluetooth just to beam out information to nearby mobiles. We can imagine our mobiles running an application that simply scans for nearby information beacons and brings them to our attention.

The interesting thing is that unconnected devices could suddenly appear to be connected. Consider the following scenarios:

1. My washing machine could beam its URL to my phone. Included in the exchange is a timer that instructs my phone to go fetch updates from the URL. Periodically, I get updates about my washing machine, perhaps including offers for an extended warranty or for bulk delivery of washing power. The point is that these updates, whilst coming from the Internet, could appear to be coming from the washing machine.

2. My washing machine could place calendar alerts in my diary, such as reminding me to extend the warranty, or clean the filter, or whatever it might like to remind me to do.

3. The machine could actually connect with the Internet, using my phone as a bridge. For example, it uploads a service report to the manufacturer's service centre, reporting on a fault that is developing with the pump.

These ideas are obvious. However, I'm not sure how widely the possibility has been grasped. This is not a pie-in-the-sky idea. The gates are wide open for this to become a reality today and with very little effort and cost. All we need is a Bluetooth profile for machines that allows a simple "I'm here and here's my URL" to be broadcast. Beyond that, there doesn't need to be a standard because of the well-known flexibility of the good old URL.

A lot gets said about seamless mobility, but usually about using any wireless access technology to connect with a network. However, in my view, seamlessness is about this natural and intuitive exposure to information relevant to the time and place we find ourselves in from moment to moment. Like the DVD example. When I'm watching a DVD, my mobile knows about it and does something about it - "You're watching a DVD - let me help you with that...."

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