Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Small Idea for Mobile Service Providing Companies.

Time to time I hear new inventions, added features to mobile phones from the mobile communication world. And I'm very happy about the current level of mobile telecommunication capabilities we have in Sri Lanka. I had this idea for a long time and didn't have a time to blog about it. One day when I was with few friends of mine, one of the friends mother said "I was in a deep sleep when my son calls me, and it's a big disturbance to me when people call me while I'm resting". That's the day I got this idea right up in my head.

People who use an Internet Messengers even gmail with chat are already known to this feature and it's not a new thing in that context. I'm talking about setting a status in the IM. For those who don't know this feature yet, here it is. We can type some text and set a message as our status in the IM so all in my contact list can see my status (Available, busy, don't disturb, meeting, etc). Just take a look at the image below, this is a screen shot from my Internet Messenger (Pidgin). I'm sorry about making it horrible to see by erasing the names of my buddy list, it's due to privacy issues. Just take a look at the circled areas. :-)
You can see "Away", "I'm Awake" (My status) and a red sign means "Do not disturb". I can get an idea of the current status of my buddy before I call/text him/her. And that is a small but great feature.

But what I think is, how can we take the benefits of that feature if we implement it in Mobile telecommunication world? Even in other telecommunication fields? Lets see some advantages and disadvantages in my knowledge scope, any one free to come up with more ideas for this.

  • If the person is in a meeting, he/she can set the status to "meeting". When caller dials his/her number and hit send/call button he/she can see the receiver's status as "meeting". So he can hangup the call. And a miss call alert will send to the receiver. When the caller is unaware that you are in a meeting, he/she will keep on ringing and it's a big disturb to you even your phone is in silence mode.

  • When you are driving (actually before you start driving) you can set your status to "Driving", so callers can see you are driving and can hangup if the call is not urgent. It's better not to have strong conversations while you drive, cos that may drive your attention away from the road.

  • When you want to rest and do not want to be disturbed, but in the mean time, you do not want to switch off your phone either, you can set the status "sleeping" or "do not disturb" so caller can hangup right after he/she sees the your status message.

  • When you want to show the callers that you are busy with your studies/office work, while you are truly busy with your girlfriend/boyfriend and do not want to be disturbed, you can set a customized status, "Studying", "Busy" so callers can get a picture of your current situation. (Kidding but true)
List can go on... but let me stop from here.

Disadvantages and how to over come those.
  • People are used to dial the number in the key pad and keep the phone on the ear right after hitting the send button, so the chances of seeing a status which display on the screen is very low.
    How to over come this? How about sending a beep signal once caller get connected to the receiver's phone which has a status set. The signal can be send from the receiver's phone to the caller. And yes, advertise about this feature nicely using some celebrities :-)

  • People will not use this feature if they have to walk deep in menus.
    If this feature is embed in to the SIM card, Service providers should find a short way to enter in to "set your status" feature. I have seen there are so many value added features uniquely set for each service providers.

  • Any one who find your number can call you and will see your status. So if some one want to spy on you also have a chance to get an idea of what you are doing now.
    It's bit complicated when it comes to security and privacy. So it's bit difficult to come to a compromise situation here. But the service provider always can provide this as an optional feature so any one who like to use it can use, others just don't have to use it. So both service provider and customer are safe!. Customers can't say "ABC Phone company have violated my privacy". Cos it's a feature that user can turn on or off.
There will be more disadvantages too. It's up to the people who are interested in implementing this idea as a feature in their service to find solutions to all the problems that arise.

This feature can be implemented either in the phone or in the SIM card. At present I'm not capable of actually implementing it. But I'm sure mobile phone companies, telecommunication service providers can do this for sure.!

I have a very important thing to say.If one phone company implement this feature in their phone models, they should not patent on this feature, also service providers. This feature should be globally available. Like we all used it in our Internet Messengers. And it should be freely available to customers/users.

So I hope my post will be useful to those who are interested in this field. And I'm sure one day we all will see this feature and many more attractive and very useful features in our hand held communication devices.



Anonymous said...

Good idea. There's a technology called XMPP which runs chat programs like Jabber. That's what runs Google Chat.

XMPP is an eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. It has the potential to bridge SMS/Voice and chat.

Good idea, but difficult to deploy.

Dasunpriya Anuradha said...

@ indi,

Thanks for the comment mate. I am using xmpp every day... ;-).

I think any one who devote some time hacking on a system like that may come up with a solution. Yes it'll be bit difficult to deploy... But should not be impossible isn't it.? May be google android will be a good platform to play around. And mobile phone service providers also have to support to implement it.

I recall a quote of Alan Kay "Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible".