Microsoft Research Shows off Future Cell Phone Applications
Yesterday, Microsoft Research engineers showed off some of their mobile phone projects. One of the projects was is called Fone+ which allows cell phone users to connect their cell phones to a keyboard, mouse or television. Fone+ allows users to take advantage of the increasing power of cell phones. This allows capabilities such as cell phones accessing the Internet with a full keyboard while viewing it on a larger screen.
Cell phones could connect to external storage via a phone cradle and connect to the Internet either wirelessly or through broadband wired connections. Fone+ would be targeted at regions such as China, where PC penetration is still low; however, cell phone ownership is high.
Some parts of China have broadband; others are covered by at best GPRS or EDGE, relatively slow mobile connections.
Microsoft also showed off applications that combine physiological sensors with cell phones. One such application, called MPTrain, combines a heart-rate sensor with a music-tempo analyzer to let runners use music players in their mobile phones to set their workouts. With MPTrain, a user first chooses a workout on the phone that might include two 10-minute periods of intense exercise interspersed with periods of slower exercise. The application then analyzes the music in the user's phone to choose songs based on their tempo and length, matching the chosen workout.
The phone knows where your heart rate should be based on the workout you want to do and it determines whether you need to slow down, speed up, or keep the same pace and based on that selects the right song to induce you to run at the right pace. Researchers realized that a song encourages a runner to change pace and found that music works remarkably well, compared to runners trying to pace their workout on their own without music
Another cell phone application is for people who suffer from or think they might suffer from sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea repeatedly stop breathing as they sleep, often many times a night, and perhaps for a minute or longer. Wearing a small sensor on a toe that communicates with a mobile phone over Bluetooth, a user could sleep at home and monitor their heart rate and level of oxygen in their blood.
Most people with sleep apnea undergo tests when they are hooked up to many sensors on their bodies and must sleep in a hospital for one or two nights. The application would allow users to remain in the comfort of their own homes and monitor their sleep for longer periods of time, allowing them to note how different factors such as food or stress may affect their sleep.