Wireless innovation

The big buzzword at Bell these days is “innovation”, mostly because future livelihood depends on it. I went down to see Bell Mobility’s new Centre for Wireless Innovation in Mississauga two weeks ago. This is the fourth of such state-of-the-art skunkwork facilities designed for innovation.

The 5,000 square foot centre has these interesting features:

  • a TieRack-like track where Mobility’s latest gadgets are paraded around a large display case
  • all tables are on rolling wheels so they can be configured and moved
  • Samsung 21″ flatscreens at every workstation
  • Floor to ceiling whiteboards in every room
  • Large plasma TVs for status monitoring
  • A low-power wireless cell for performing RF experiments within the centre
  • a presentation room complete with electro-frosted glass windows, a smartboard plasma TV, and a 24 foot wide projector screen that can be selectively switched opaque and transparent to show wireless devices in a showcase behind it. One of the ladies there said they watched “Planet of the Apes” on it and it was awesome. I bet it was!

Some technologies they had on display were:

  • Location-based services (LBSs) that utilize the GPS capability in most of Mobility’s latest phones. MapMe allows one to pinpoint their location on a map on their phone, with hotlinks to the Yellow Pages. Family Finder is a MapPoint Server application for keeping tabs on the locations of fellow cellphone users.
  • Telematics is roughly the same, but with fleet services. Truck dispatchers can track the speed, location and fuel consumption of their vehicles.
  • VoIP clients that allow one to have your PC, cellphone and telephone share the same phone number, and ring simultaneously. You can also send instant messages to your cellphone and computer simultaneously, and engage in webcam conversations.
  • Biometric scanners, including an iris scanner and fingerprint scanner. The iris scanner is more accurate, but much more expensive.

On display were also three new Mobility devices: the Samsung a680 (a videocameraphone that’s just as small and light as the a660), the PalmOne Treo 600 (it can play video!), and the Audiovox PPC-5050 (WiFi-enabled PocketPC).

We had a fun team meeting at Donatello’s afterwards, where we probably could have used this phone technology.