Mobiles working on their sensor-tive side

Nokia wants your phone to join the net
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Nokia wants your phone to join the net

Nokia wants to make your mobile phone as much a part of the internet as a website is now.

Nokia's big idea is the sensor network: millions of mobiles plugged into, and reporting back to, the web.

Just using a simple camera phone, for example, a subscriber could let the world know their exact location using GPS or cellular signals and how the weather is looking where they are with an MMS.

Today's sensor networks monitor field conditions - a network of tiny sensors can monitor weather conditions, temperature and sunlight levels in a vineyard and build up detailed records of every factor that could impede a grape's growth.

But Nokia reckons there's more to the sensor networks than grape geekery. In the handset company's vision, the consumers of tomorrow will be using their mobile as a window into the world of their friends and co-workers.

According to Jyri Huopaniemi, head of strategic research at Nokia's Research Centre, the company wants to see all mobiles becoming "full bi-directional members of the internet".

In this vision, each device would have its own URL or identifier, and would be capable of being controlled remotely via the internet - letting people take advantage of all the information such sensors can provide.

He added: "We're shifting intelligence to the edge of the network... now the device is becoming client and server."

The phone giant is already dreaming up content and web-based user interfaces that can take advantage of all these sensors, for example to allow you to contact and request sensor data from a friend's device - such as finding out what the weather it like where they are.

The phone giant is also working on other applications, such as context aware wallpapers that change depending on where the user is or who they're with. Nokia has already produced an application with sensors in mind, which adds data to photos, such as where a picture was taken and who it has been sent to.

Huopaniemi believes participation of mobiles as part of the internet will have two effects - the first being an overhaul of content services for mobiles. The second, slightly less entertaining, is a squeeze on network resources as devices share more and more information.

He said: "We are envisaging network congestion. There are congestion points in the short and medium term."

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