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  • 1. The Role of Cell Phones in Everyday Human Decisions James Davidson, John Jacobson, Colin Zima Advisor: Professor Harmon Thursday, May 5th, 2005 Introduction: Cellular phones have become inescapable in today’s society. Explosive growth in the wireless industry has led to over 180 million users in the United States alone (over 60% penetration and rising, passing land-line telephony in subscribers). Cellular capabilities extend beyond basic person-to-person communications as they allow users full mobility over a variety of applications. Wireless devices constantly help humans make better “everyday decisions,” thus increasing quality of life through simple decision aid technologies. Cellular phones can provide users with large amounts of information on the move and people can integrate this additional information into making better, more efficient business and leisure decisions. Everyday decisions are dictated by basic human needs – things like food, shelter, clothing, travel, or leisure and entertainment. Mobile phones have introduced a plethora of systems that allow humans to make better decisions regarding these desires. Humans are limited by several constraints in making decisions: time, money, and information. Cellular systems have created infrastructures that allow users to maximize their efficiency within these constraints. Many of these systems bridge all three of our limitations in obtaining basic human needs. Programs can provide more efficient driving directions, locate the nearest Starbucks for users on the move in unfamiliar cities, provide comparison shopping in remote locations comparing prices to internet shopping
  • 2. businesses, and even help pay for parking or groceries for users without cash on hand. New wireless services are constantly emerging, and with the creation of new “smart phones” with large amounts of mobile computing power (similar to PDA and cellular phone hybrids), the possibilities for mobile technologies supporting everyday decisions has become even greater. The combination of development in cellular (more robust modulation and transmission techniques, like 3G cellular) and the miniaturization of computing technologies (smaller, faster processors inside the mobile phones) creates faster, more capable phones. Bitrate capabilities allow phones to send streaming video and high data rates over the ether, as compared to simple audio transfer of just ten years ago. Two megapixel cameras are now available in phones, just a few years after these cameras were state of the art in their own right. These phones have integrated abilities to send the photos to both other mobile phones and computers as well. Even web searches have now moved from the computer to the cell phone. All these capabilities bring more information to users in mobile environments, and allow users to translate this extra data into more enjoyable leisure, more productive business, and better everyday decisions. Phones may superficially appear to only provide users with human-to-human interaction, like classical wire-line phone services with full mobility. Service in person- to-person wireless, however, extends far beyond voice services. New programs provide services like online dating in mobile environments and the ability to remotely maintain web-logs. We will also examine cellular telephony in a variety of human-machine contexts, for both leisure and business. Media capabilities allow for enhanced multimedia in
  • 3. mobile settings. Newly developed mp3 players and video phones can provide streaming new, sports, weather, and entertainment (creating more flexible leisure environments for users). Other programs have features allowing users to pay for parking via the phone, scan documents portably, check email on the move, or search the internet from the convenience of one’s portable handset (for services like driving directions, weather, movie times, or product price listings). All of these services provide users with more information in remote environments, allowing owners to save both time and money. This additional mobility, provided by emerging technology, allows humans to make better decisions and hence work more efficiently, eliminating some of the economic deadweight of less competent decisions and, in a sense, creating more, higher quality leisure time for users. Multimedia: With the rising technology in the field of mobile phones, audio and visual entertainment is easier to access and available wirelessly. The decreasing size of computer hard drives has made it possible to install one in a cell phone. The dramatic success of Apple’s IPod led to the inevitable innovation of a music-playing phone. Nokia has just unveiled their new N91 mobile phone, a multimedia phone that comes with a 4 gigabyte hard disk, allowing storage of up to 3000 MP3s. Unlike the IPod, which can only download songs from a computer, the N91 will be able to download songs directly through 3g Networks currently being rolled out. Partnering with Microsoft Nokia’s phone will allow for songs to be downloaded to a phone and then shared with a personal computer. While it may not seem like an “everyday decision,” humans are
  • 4. constantly seeking answers to questions like, “What can I do while I am standing here waiting for the bus?” or “How can I make my ride on the subway more enjoyable?” New entertainment resources in the mobile environment are providing answers to these questions. 1 Verizon’s VCAST, its new 3G mobile phone network with increased download speeds of up to 400-700 kbps, was launched this February. These speeds allow a VCAST-enabled phone to display streaming video of entertainment, news, sports, and breaking weather. Eventually these phones will also be capable of downloading music. Qualcomm is launching a similar program called MediaFLO. This new network will deliver streaming multimedia, including video and audio to mobile customers. It will support as many as 100 channels of high-quality video and audio. MediaFLO will also host TV stations, cable TV networks and satellite television. This provides a new media for television programming distribution simultaneously allowing consumers a new venue to be entertained.2 According to a new study, approximately 125 million people will be watching television or Mobisodes (mobile episodes) on their mobile phones within the next five years. With on demand streaming video and the new multimedia phones beginning to reach the market, the TV viewing habits of the US and Europe will extend onto the already prevalent mobile phones.3 This increased technology will allow consumers to choose when and where they want their entertainment. Since viewing will be available anywhere, consumers can, more than ever, arrange program viewing around their specific 1 “Nokia offers new range of phones” BBC News. 2005 2 “How It Works” Verizon. 2005 3 “Survey: TV for Mobile Phones Set to Reach Masses” Reuters. 2005
  • 5. schedules. The increased ease of viewing and dramatically greater technologies will allow for greater options with regards to everyday decisions concerning entertainment. Business and Personal Use: People are constantly making decisions without sufficient information and the result is inefficiency. The rising technology, allowing for greater amounts of data to be transmitted at higher speeds, will increase the amount of information available to people at all times. This increase of information has the potential to dramatically alter the way people make decisions. Resources that were once overlooked are now easily accessible. These resources will now be considered and a greater number of options can be weighed before making a final decision. Mobile connection to the internet in cell phones represents a way to access previously unattainable information thus dramatically improving even the simplest of decisions. Google’s “Local Information” is now available at the tip of your hands on nearly any mobile phone. This new service allows users to access local business listings, maps, and driving directions from even the most remote locations. The technology allows xHTML-enabled browsers on phones to search for local businesses and then provides a map with directions to the business. This greatly eases simple human decision making, such as where to eat or how to get from one place to another, by presenting more information in a very accessible manner. A similar service, Google SMS (short messaging service), a text messaging based technology, allows people to find phone book listings, weather conditions, movie times, prices, and much more. The renowned Google internet search engine is also available on your mobile phone with the capacity to search the web including text and images. Access
  • 6. to these resources can aid humans in a wide variety of everyday decisions. This advantage in decision making lies in the fact that owners have access to a much larger information set at all times. No longer will consumers be forced to wander the streets, by car or on foot, searching for the grocery store that is “around here somewhere.” Consumers will no longer return home from the supermarket only to find that they forgot two ingredients for the stew they had planned to make because soon they will be able to access recipes and ingredients in the store, assuring that they have everything they need.4 This also adds to our ability to obtain the most competitive prices because online stores are quickly accessible, with prices that are easily checked. Consumers can check product prices online via Google’s search engine. Future technological improvements promise to make shopping even more efficient. With inventions like the semacode reader (an elaborate barcode reader mentioned later), future cell phones will have barcode readers able to scan products. The price on these products in the store can then be compared with reference sites like Amazon.com for prices on the same item. No longer will people have to run around shopping at many different stores or have extensive searches online before shopping to find the most competitive pricing. This will eliminate time and money spent on simple everyday decisions about what to buy. Along with the economic implications of the newfound access to information previously unavailable to a mobile consumer, there are new means for easing business transaction. The Scottish city of Edinburgh has instituted a “pay by mobile” service for paying for parking. You just have to call a national parking phone number and input the specific spots identification number and duration of stay to purchase the space. The system even can include a service that text messages you when your time is nearly up. 4 Google Mobile Search, 2005
  • 7. The parking charge will then appear on your next credit card bill.5 Information regarding purchases is becoming more and more accessible and transaction costs are going down, as a result it takes less time doing the mundane. This creates more options about the method of purchase allowing for a better decision Companies like Weight Watchers and Atkins are migrating into cellular services intended at aiding everyday decision-making. Several times per day, dieters are faced with food choices: decisions like whether to have the bagel or the doughnut at breakfast, the Caesar salad or the sandwich at lunch, and the chicken or the steak at dinner. Products offered by diet companies allow owners to count calories, carbs, or any other dietary concern throughout the day through the phone. This allows users to make more informed choices on whether they have saved enough Weight Watcher points throughout the day to splurge at dinner, or whether they should keep dinner light after a heavy day. These are decisions dieters face everyday, and these dieters can now make better decisions toward both reaching their weight-loss goals and remaining happy with their diet program.6 Cellular phones are incorporating many different aspects of new technology including smaller and better digital cameras. As a result the capabilities of the phone are increasing as well with these technologies. Scientists at Xerox Research Center Europe, using the camera phone technologies, can transform the cell phone into a portable document scanner.7 A cell phone camera is all that would be required would be to take a photo of a relevant document. Software on the phone will fix the blurriness and convert it into an easily-modified word document. Finally, the image will be compressed using a 5 “Edinburgh Introduces mPark” Edinburgh Outlook 2004 6 “Count Calories on the Go” AP 2004 7 Clancy 2005
  • 8. method know as Fax Group 4, which would allow approximately 10 pages “scanned” in the space of one digital photo, and sent to another phone. The ease provided to any mobile professional would greatly alter the manner in which ideas are shared. An architect could make notes on a blueprint photograph them and send the image to associates, all via a cell phone. Another use for mobile phone cameras is the invention of Ontario based company Semacode. A semacode is adaptation on the traditional bar code that can be read by a digital camera in a wireless phone and translated into a URL by a chip inside the phone. Using just the camera built into a phone to take a picture of a printed version of the black and white semacode, the cell phone can decipher an embedded hidden message. As cell phones are now able to access the internet with increasing speeds this information is most powerful as a web address. The implications of this technology are truly limitless but among those are a semacode for a bus line printed at the stop. A cell phone could then take the picture and be routed to the bus timetables online as well as an up to the minute location of the next bus. The affect of this on everyday decision-making is clear already; when choosing whether to wait for the next bus or just walk home a semacode can relay important information otherwise unavailable. There are various other applications though like a semacode at the bottom of a poster for a concert taking a cell phone user to a URL where they can purchase tickets for the concert. Also a business card could contain a semacode with a URL linked to a personal information page with up to date information so that old business cards are still usable.8 8 “About” Semacode 2005
  • 9. Person to Person: Interpersonal communication and relationships were the impetus of cellular phone creation – seamless voice connection in a mobile environment throughout a city, state, country, even worldwide. These services have extended far beyond voice in the person- to-person market. With the advent of new, more powerful 3rd generate networks that can carry higher data rates and web browser-eqsue interfaces, new possibilities abound. Many of these products stem from connecting mobile and fixed internet users in a “tight, two-way link.” RSVP online dating in Australia is just one of the many new interpersonal connection products available to help people make better everyday decisions, by providing clients with more information (in this case about potential dates) than would be otherwise available. RSVP, in conjunction with other telecommunications partners including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and the leading 3rd generation mobile carrier, ‘3’, have taken online dating mobile. Users simply load a profile onto the expansive xHTML network, either from a computer or mobile, and are then matched with compatible users also employing the service. RSVP customers can then search profiles (they currently boast over 500,000 users), send pictures or video, and message other users (text and voice) either from their computer or in mobile setting. The service extends over a wide range in Australia, allowing users to access the database through their mobile phone for local users when they travel away from home. Similar services are being rolled out in the United States, Europe, and Japan on the new 3G networks. But why do users need mobile capabilities for dating networks? One provider, G Dating, cites the fact that “everybody’s always on [the dating network]” allowing users to chat, search, and flirt all remotely. This may
  • 10. seem trivial, but the service aims to ease the basic challenges of finding dates and making new relationships happen. The mobility allows users to weigh more information in their dating life decisions – in theory, helping them making better relationship decisions.910 Mobile peer-to-peer services extend far beyond dating. The wildly popular trend of weblogging, via blogs (weB-LOGS) is moving from computers to cellular phones as well. Dublin-based NewBay Software is offering the ability for users to create and maintain blogs on the go. An estimated 500,000 weblogs have been created in the past year, and almost 100,000 more logs are launched each month. The logs range from personal diaries, to amateur journalism sites with sports, news, politics, or event notices, or crude op-ed pages. New 3G cellular advances and complex picture and video capable phones will allow these sites to incorporate video and picture via the mobile handsets to their logs. On the most basic levels, the service will yield access for users to additional information in the mobile setting, allowing for better, more informed decision-making (by establishing framework for remote news sites or informative event calendars to handset owners in real time in portable settings). By permitting consumers to retrieve more information in more places, the new services aid in better everyday decisions.11 Future: Human-machine interactive capabilities still dictate how phones will develop into the future. Premiums will be placed on ease of use and human-machine interface as computing power limitations are phased out of phones. Users want large screen interfaces and input devises that are easy to use and efficient, like keyboards. But 9 Braue 2005 10 “Mobile Love: Cell Phone Dating” 2005 11 “Start-up marries blogs and camera phones” 2003
  • 11. premiums are placed on size. Cellular phones in the future are finding new and creative solutions to sidestepping size constraints. Companies are rolling out new prototype products to circumvent these challenges. Siemens has developed a prototype for a cell phone with a built in projector. The system contains a built in projector in the handset that can pivot perpendicular to a handset set on a tabletop. The miniature semiconductor laser can then project a larger screen a classical computer keyboard remotely to the countertop (and potentially onto walls for slide shows, etc), where users can type with a Bluetooth (short range wireless system) “smart” pen onto the remote keyboard or use the pen like a mouse on the screen (via technology that understand the coordinates of the pen tip). 12 The system helps users make better everyday decisions by essentially morphing mobile phones into crude laptop computers. The system would give the power to surf a complete internet, in full HTML, not simply the dumbed down web pages available in xHTML today. This would give owners the comprehensive availability to the billions of website and their embedded information remotely. Users can decide whether the dress they see in the store can be bought cheaper in another store on the internet. They can access restaurant reviews, directions, and prices for nearby establishments as they walk the streets of New York. Users can even retrieve online aids like WebMD to diagnose basic medical problems and find a quick fix without pausing one’s busy day. The future brings the combination of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cell phones in new so called smart phones. Nokia's 3650 is a smart phone with amazing new features, such as being able to wireless synchronize with a laptop to deliver Microsoft Outlook calendar, names, phone numbers and addresses of over 1,300 contacts. This can 12 “Cell Phone with Built-in Projector” 2005
  • 12. dramatically help people with remembering meetings and scheduled events with reminders, as well as enable them to schedule things on the go. This can alter decision making in the business world by postponing decisions. The choice of when to make a decision is now layered into the overall decision making process, adding greater options and more adaptability. The future will bring as many features to these smart phones as inventors can think up. The phone is increasingly becoming a blackhole for computer software as technology allows chips and memory to become faster and smaller. Companies like Symbian, Research in Motion, and Microsoft are making software for the phone-like devices like the Blackberry and PalmOne's Treo and these are getting smaller screens and phone keypads, truly becoming full-featured cell phones. Making a decision with the aid of computer services is clearly preferable to making the same decision in a vacuum of information. Computers (in cell phones) offer the ability to provide and analyze more information than humans alone have readily available.13 Conclusion: New cell phone technology is helping humans make better everyday decisions in a variety of ways. It provides solutions to questions like: “What can I do for fun right now?,” “ When’s the next bus?,” “Where is the closest quality Chinese restaurant within my price range?,” “ Do they serve Peking Duck?,” and “ How do I get there?” Cell phones allow for access to information that would otherwise be unavailable while mobile. This information assists decision making under constraints of time, money and information. Cell phones now provide greater ease of use and new capabilities with person to person communications. The future of cell phones is rapidly approaching as 13 Rosenbush 2005
  • 13. 3G networks roll out, and phones integrate better hard drives, cameras, and processors. These improvements in technology allow for even greater improvement in function, enabling new capabilities which can aid in decision making.
  • 14. Bibliography: “About” Semacode. 2005, URL: http://semacode.org/about/ Braue, David. “Video Dating COMes to the Mobile” FairFax Digital. 2005, URL: http://smh.com.au/articles/2005/04/11/1113071894504.html?oneclick=true “Cell Phone with Built-in Projector” 2005, URL: http://www.physorg.com/news3505.html Clancy, Heather. “WHAT'S NEXT; Cellphones Get a New Job Description: Portable Scanner” NY Times 2005. “Count Calories on the Go” AP. 2004, URL: http://www.wired.com/news/gizmos/0,1452,66007,00.html “Edinburgh Introduces mPark” Edinburgh Outlook. 2004, URL: http://www.edinburghoutlook.co.uk/article.php?article_id=388 Google Mobile Search, 2005, URL: http://mobile.google.com/ “How It Works” Verizon. 2005, URL: http://getitnow.vzwshop.com/vcast.learn.technology.do “Mobile Love: Cell Phone Dating” Springwise.com. 2005, URL: http://www.springwise.com/newbusinessideas/3gDating.htm “Nokia offers new range of phones” BBC News. 2005, URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4489485.stm Rosenbush, Steve. “Smart Phones: Intelligence Spreads” Business Week. May 3, 2005. “Start-up marries blogs and camera phones” Electricnews.net. 2003, URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/01/08/startup_marries_blogs_and_camera/ “Survey: TV for Mobile Phones Set to Reach Masses” Reuters. 2005, URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050502/tc_nm/tech_mobile_television_dc;_ylt=AvldrhY EfJmfoYUWax07GN0jtBAF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl