February 25, 2007 02:15 | WebTech

The second most dangerous man alive

I'm wondering:
- does my Nokia N80 have QR code reading capabilities?
- does the Nokia N95 allow Python to access the camera and the GPS "easily" (for hacking a quick prototype)
- what is the current trend, if any, in the mobile device industry, for GPS integration in devices?
- can J2ME/3rd party applications be loaded on KDDI's phones?
- do I know anyone in my 2nd/3rd degree social networks who could make J2ME apps that access camera and GPS on available devices?

Get your markers ready Aaron. ;)


Answer to number 1: N80 software downloads (nice to find some other useful stuff)

dare i mention the current phones made by HTC running windows mobile, and packing GPS and cameras? i've programmed against these in .NET and it's dead easy.

S60 Python releases are not tied to any given hardware release. So the answer(s) to #2 are :

2a : Yes, S60 Python has had hooks in to the camera for...for the purposes of this dicussion, forever. A few people have already written full-on camera applications in Python but these are often foiled by the built-in hardware triggers for phones whose camera may have a lens covering (N73, N95, etc.) or some other physical indicator (like twisting the N90) which activate the built-in "Camera" application.

There are ways around this at the C++ layer but not, so far as I've seen, in Python. Functionality like "triggers" has been making its way in to more recent (Python) releases but I have no idea if access to all hardware events will ever be part of the standard release.

2b : Probably not. I expect that any support for the built-in GPS unit will be dependant on how many models actually ship with GPS units. If access is available, in either C++ or Python, I expect that it will require a whole new set of security/signing permissions. Access to an external bluetooth GPS has been available for a while now.

@aaron: thanks! for prototype purposes, both answers are "good enough" (Nokia's S60 devices are by far not mass market so... ) Either way, might make sense to just do it all in J2ME anyways (right? i'm just getting my big toe wet here)

@JonR: thnx. for similar reasons as Symbian, WinMobile is not mass market, and I seriously doubt it ever will be, especially in Asia. ;)

I will give a shot a two of your questions :

"what is the current trend, if any, in the mobile device industry, for GPS integration in devices?"

From what I was able to gather at the latest CES, my guess it that GPS is the new high-end feature for top of the line phones, a bit like bluetooth was a few years ago (and sadly still sometime is). This is due to better availability of "gps microchips" (google it for info) at lower costs (some articles quote 1$ to add gps to a bluetooth chip).

I expect it will take about 2-3 years for GPS to get mass adoption (another factor that might drive it thru the roof is when apple ship laptops with gps by default, like they did for the webcam on all the new models).

As for the other question "do I know anyone in my 2nd/3rd degree social networks who could make J2ME apps that access camera and GPS on available devices?"

This is something I am interested in funding somewhere down the road (read : a few months) as it might be really helpful for a few projects I am developping right now. If you want to discuss this you can contact me about it, I know a few j2me developpers in Montreal.

standalone GPS units hit rock-bottom prices this christmas, supermarkets were practically giving them away with boxes of cereal, much like happened with mobile phones in the UK about - um - ten years ago. i agree that 2 years seems about right for GPS mass adoption via phone handsets. hadn't thought of the laptop angle!

to be honest I am not convinced that GPS will actually go the mass market route. Remember, it introduces enormous privacy issues, perhaps large enough to keep device makers far away for fear of litigation. Not to mention that GPS is actually a terribly unreliable affair in urban areas. We're talking about people who expect thigns to work and return a device if it doesn't. (As opposed to early adopters who chuck it in the gadget drawer.)

Just a thought.

Aside, the second alrgest mobile carrier in Japan, KDDI Au, offer only handsets with GPS embedded. Obviously it is a service offering hting, integrated with locative and context services (way finding and targetted advertising).

Sylvain, on s'en r'parlera. I was googling GPS chips years ago.. hell I was scouring bins in Akiba even. ;)

In any case, the QR Code thing I think is much closer to reality and much easier for everyone to swallow... and has immediate use cases. (sorry aaron ;)

consumers still think that GPS == TomTom Navigator. i wouldn't be suprised if mobile operators start flogging "location services" without handset owners even knowing or caring that it's using GPS.

using GPS for actual navigation does indeed suck in city centres. but that's no reason not to find other uses for the chips, that can get some real value out of the intermittent GPS fixes available on a phone moving at walking pace around town.

Agree with JonR, GPS is just "another data stream" to do something with, I know that's how you envision it too Boris.

I think the privacy angle is easy to solve if the users have choice (like I do with my bluetooth devices, I turn off the signal or put it on not discoverable if I so wish).

I just think location is too important to be ignored by the developers. We all know the "ice cream rebate coupon on a hot summer day when you walk by the ice cream store" from the marketoids about "mobile commerce". But then, pointcast seemed like a good idea to them too.

It was, push is great, but it took RSS (a way to push openly) and blogs (something useful for humans to do) for the "push model" to gain wide acceptance on the internet (well, email is push messaging too if you think about it).

Don't know why I am rambling about this here, the topic just tickle my geek sixth sense *a lot*!