Of 140 million cell phones sold in the US in 2007, only 10% were recycled, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. EcoATM is a sort of a reverse vending phone machine that allows people to drop their old phones into it and get credit for it in form of store or charity vouchers if their old phone has any resale value. If it doesn’t have any resale value, they just get to feel better about themselves and not create an extra pile of plastic rubbish.
At no cost to the retailer, ecoATM provides self-serve electronic eCycling stations which quickly inspects and assigns real-time secondary market value, collects/bins portable devices, provides payment to the consumer, and administrates any additional trade-in promotions / discounts loaded by the OEM and/or retailer.
The one thing not quite clear to me is why mobile phone manufacturers and service providers are semi-expected to make things recyclable, while there is much less pressure on the overall e-hardware producers and retailers, whether we look at laptops, printers or scanners.
OrganIP is a service that will allow users to call their friends without knowing their numbers. So far based on Facebook and Gmail, OrganIP will pick up your friends’ info if they’d previously revealed it at any public or friends-accessible space online. The list of accessible platforms is meant to expland to sites like Linkedin, Twitter and Windows Live Hotmail.
Though still before its launch, OrganIP seems like an interesting idea and a great solution for lost phones and phone numbers situations. Its works will be neatly preconfigured by the privacy settings in your social networks privacy settings, so an avalanche of sudden callers is an unlikely event unless you’re one of the over-connected and over-exposed types on facebook.
With our mobile phones’ abilities approaching what our personal computers do at a quick pace, it seems like a wider integration of multiple sims could be a nice idea. I still meet so many people who squabble with their multiple devices to try and separate their private lives from the professional ones. I’m not even asking to make the phones compatible with different networks as nice as that could be – I’d just like to be able to have a couple of numbers from the same operator and be able to have preset groups I want to call from specific numbers rather than revealing my private one to everyone I need to have phone contact with.
And by all means, make me pay for it, but please just make it work. How much different can creating a maintaining a phone number be to doing the same with an email address in principle? The technology is there, but why not applied on a wider scale?
We all know that mobile is changing very quickly, but we might be forgetting that the very nature of service providers is changing too. One reason for which I wanted to get an iPhone was to use Skype or whatnot other app that would allow me to avoid international phone call charges. I’ve always been quite happy with O2, but now that I’ve bundled it with Skype To Go services, my love is growing. I’ve known that these things were out there before, but somehow getting an iPhone rather than researching the market seemed like an answer to my international calling troubles.
The two main providers of re-routing services I’ve looked at are Skype To Go and Rebtel. I think both are very good, if a little different on the way of assigning international numbers. The works are roughly this: in case of Rebtel, you get a local number for every international phone number you want to call; in case of Skype, you get an single local number that re-routes you to international calls. Now to be honest, I’m not sure how these call re-routing services actually work, but they are quite amazing. If you call mobile phones, it gets a wee bit more expensive, but if you’re calling landlines it starts at 1.4 pence a minute. And if you want to go with Rebtel and do another trick they offer called something like callback, you can actually talk for free. For me this roughly means never ever getting on my laptop to make an audio call.
All this skips your regular phone service provider. The only thing the calls cost you is your free minutes or if you’re on a plan, or if you’re on pay as you go you pay a regular local landline rate. My £20 O2 monthly plan gives me unlimited landline calls, which means that if I call my family back home on their landline the only cost is the 1.4 pence a minute. Which rocks. Rebtel has the same rate and I like it as well, but when I went on the site, it flat our refused to take my money about 4 times. I realise that this post is relevant only to those of you who don’t have an iPhone and care to make international phone calls, but heck, I’m an excited non-iPhone international caller.
Anne Galloway published a fantastic essay on community mapping, locative media and their potential impact on everything from pollution control to politics and just fun things like emotion mapping in urban environments.
Community mapping and sensing projects that use commonly available consumer electronics as environmental measurement devices, enable people to collect and view a wide array of location-based data. As a form of public science, such projects stand to reinvigorate environmentally focused civic engagement. However, given public concerns around environmental risks and their connections to technological progress, I believe that this kind of active citizenship should promote more critical reflection on the values and goals of the very projects that expect to create such profound changes in these domains, and carefully consider the limits of its own power.
I just found this on LIFT, a source of fantastic talks from a series of conferences on innovation, technology and such. David Birch, director at Consult Hyperion is a specialist of electronic business and banking. In his presentation, he gives his perspective on the future of digital currency by addressing the disadvantage of cash, the raising importance of cell phone services (especially in developing countries) and its benefits.
Mobile Web technologies will transform cities and beyond. The MIT SENSEable City lab shows how mobiles can create live visualisations and data of urban activity in cities around the clock. The first WikiCity project Real Time Rome used cellphones and GPS devices to collect the movement patterns of people and transportation systems, and their spatial and social usage of streets and neighborhoods. If applied more widely such monitoring could provide invaluable data that could transform how we run cities and our lives in them. In theory we could navigate between jammed roads and avoid empty restaurants amongst other things. The system would have to be extremely quick in updating itself, since if everyone took the same unjammed road, well, you can see the point. So far the theory seems really inspiring and I’m really curious to see developments on this.
Another really interesting concept for improving urban lives is Citysense, a platform already active in San Francisco. The iPhone and Blackberry apps allow people to see the most happening nightlife in real time. Citysense accesses mobile phone and taxi GPS data from about four million GPS sensors, to see where the local spots are buzzing. Supposedly in the next release Citysense will categorise users into 20 different tribes according to their lifestyle and most common locations. The categories will include ‘young and edgy’, ‘business traveler’, ‘weekend mole’, and ‘homebody’ among others. The monetisation of Citysense will most probably revolve around targeted advertising for the ‘tribes’ and hopefully Citysense will also come up with a smart recommendation engine based on your tribe’s behavioral patterns.
Technology is the most prominent route of development in areas ranging from medical treatment to online media that give us online shopping, easier ways of keeping in touch with other people and better access to information. They simply make our lives more convenient. The internet is not only spreading through the world, but also through various platforms that will soon allow us to control objects and optimise the energy efficiency of our homes. Internet banking, shopping online and being able to find information instantly are all becoming a commodity to those knowing how to take advantage of the relevant media, but what about the rest of the society?
Societies in developed countries are rapidly aging and more and more people are and will be alienated by the new ways that things are done via the digital sphere. How many times have you had a parent or a grandparent ask for help using devices as simple as mobile phones? I can count on one hand how many people over 60 I know that can use texting. Technological innovation is changing us, our societies and helping us move forward in many ways, but one could argue that the ones who need convenience more than any other group are the ones least often among the beneficiaries.
I would abstain from characterising the older population as simply not capable of adjusting to the digital sphere – I have seen enough people my age who aren’t web-savvy or able to take full advantage of their increasingly software- and hardware-equipped mobile phones.There are too few initiatives to increase social participation in new technology solutions for older people. Whether through providing alternative interface or simply better customer service and information, we should strive to develop new ways to introduce the new ways of communication and services for the older members of our societies. So how do we make this happen? There is now an resource site called co-pilot committed to exploring the intersection of art, technology and social change that currently focuses on the needs of older people. We’ve got to start someplace.
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