home control system using mobile commerce -- or, how your cell phone can connect you to your home when you are away from home
For better or for worse, the cell phone technology has changed modern communication and modern life. Mobile communication systems have undoubtedly made modern human beings more 'connected' to one another, or at least more able to talk to, or to reach one another, at any point in time. Now, an individual with a 'switched on' cell phone can always be accessed through the use of mobile cell phone technology -- barring any interference from poor connections or poor service, of course! However, besides simply being able to talk to others more easily, mobile phones can also make it easier to access other aspects of one's daily existence, from one's calendar, list of frequently called numbers, and yes, one's home.
The ability of mobile commerce to connect consumers to other areas of their life is an as yet underdeveloped aspect of cellular technology that business investors in ecommerce would be well advised to invest in, develop, and explore. The ability for networks to offer multiple services, beyond simple phone connections and attractive phone packages may be, or to "bundle" services, industry analysts say, will be what enables mobile phone carriers to succeed or fail in future markets, in the social Darwinian world of mobile communications. (Richtel, 2004)
The present-day status of home control systems
One of these new applications of mobile technology can be found in the form of a home control system, accessed through one's cell phone. It is one of the newest and most exciting applications of mobile technology talked about by industry experts. But firstly, a layperson might ask -- what exactly is a home control system? 'Home control' encompasses everything from electronically controlled lighting to climate control, to security systems.
According to Electronic House Magazine, although, "separately, a lighting control system, a smart climate control system, a security system and other systems afford convenience, comfort and luxury to any new home," but "when these and other systems operate synchronously ... The benefits of living in a smart home make an enormous impact." In other words, a 'smart home' is not simply a high tech home, but a home that creatively and intelligently deploys technology to create a more livable, functional, and cost and environmentally efficient home. ("Home Control Systems," 2004).
Thus, with a simple click of a switch, the owner of a 'smart home' can alter his or her home environment for the better, adjusting the humidity of the home or shading the lighting, depending upon his or her immediate needs or the needs of the short- and long-term health of the home. Of course, this may sound, to distrusters of technology, like simple smoke and mirrors and unnecessary button pressing. That is, until one imagine the following scenario. Consider a homeowner who is far away on a business trip. He or she learns that his or her home area is experiencing an unexpected heat wave in April. Or that some neighborhood friends would like to stop by the home, and pick up the owner's golf clubs so they could borrow them for a day on the green.
With the use of mobile technology, or a simple flick and press of the keys of a cell phone, the homeowner can turn on the home's dehumidifier and temporarily disable and then re-enable the home security system from afar, when he or she knows his or her neighborhood friends may be stopping by. Such scenarios, when coupled with mobile technology, make having a smart home not simply a flashy display, but an added and real convenience, even a necessity for some homeowners, depending on the geographical and security climate of the home. The ability of individuals to access smart home technology through the use of cellular phones makes the idea of a 'home away from home' a new reality -- one is always connected to one's home environment, the way that one is always connected to one's friends and business associates.
Electronic House Magazine notes that current, PDAs are often used for such long-distance communication. However, "most likely, the in-home PDA will not connect to devices via the Internet. Logging onto the Internet to control a device that's ten feet away simply doesn't make sense. What does make sense is loading special home control software into the brains of your PDA so that the connection between the PDA and the home is seamless. Some manufacturers of home control systems now offer software for PDAs." ("Home Control Systems," 2004).
What are current critical issues of mobile communication application?
Five key success factors of a mobile community
This issue of downloading the necessary compatible software highlights how the use of a 'smart' cellular or mobile technology will require certain systemic features. The first of these is compatibility and a large enough memory capacity. There is the need for the mobile systems to have a large enough memory capacity to download the necessary software, which also pertains to a second area, the question of speed of access. Only high-speed, broadband Internet technology enables mobile phone users to be able to access their home control system with the maximum efficiency. ("Home Control Systems," 2004). The pioneers of such technology are likely to be the leaders of the mobile communications field.
Beyond such technical issues of convenience and speed, there are also the third and fourth issues of systemic safety and confidential security, when so much is riding on one, singular control system. Having mobile technology's ability to create the appearance of someone living in one's home when one is away is a huge security boon -- but one must make sure this boon is not 'undone' if there is too much ease to access the password for the homes security system or to retrieve additional data about the owner. A unity of all available systems through mobile technology enables easier connection and access to all of the different areas of home control but also increases potential security risks to the owner's home and to the owner's confidential stored information on the phone.
Fifthly and last, insufficient bandwidth and WAP and power limitations are problematic for mobile technology's potential use in a home control system -- indeed, in the telecommunications industry in general. However, these difficulties are not insurmountable. Rather, they define the type of mobile commerce provider that must meet the needs of this new technology -- one that is on the cutting edge of providing devices with extensive software compatibility, large memories, quick broadband connectivity, sound security features, and navigating the problems of bandwidth with finesse.
Two Major Current Mobile Commerce Providers
Motorola, Incorporated is such a company. The Motorola Group defines its principal activities as "the provision of integrated communication solutions and embedded electronic solutions. The Group provides software-enhanced wireless telephone, two-way radio and messaging products and systems, networking and Internet-access products, for consumers, network operators and commercial, government and industrial customers." Thus, its activities are not narrowly confined to only a few types of cellular phone communication services, but extensive in the mobile commerce industry. (Motorola, Business.com) Motorola is a star in the type of multiple service providing that is the watchword of the ecommerce future.
Motorola possesses extensive developments not simply in the consumer aspects of mobile phone technology, but also to businesses. "Embedded semiconductor solutions are delivered to the customers in the networking, computing, transportation, wireless communication and digital consumer and home networking markets." (Motorola, Business.com) Motorola's superior broadband technology is also particularly noteworthy, and one reason that as a stock pick 'to watch,' Motorola, Inc. "has been praised for its digital and analog systems and set-top terminals for broadband cable television operators." (Motorola, Business.com) This broadband convenience makes it idea for bundling services and for home electronic access in particular, because of the needed speed of access.
Motorola has long been on the connectivity 'cusp' of the industry, providing "connectivity with Universal Serial Bus and Blue tooth wireless technology to allow data transfer between phones and other compatible devices. The design includes BVRP Software's mobile Phone Tools application, which enables consumers to easily input their Personal Information Manager (PIM) data, to send messages using Short Messaging Service (SMS), and to send emails using a PC's full-sized keyboard. With the Feature Phone Reference Design and Phone Tools, users also will have the ability to synchronize phone books and copy selected files between phones and PCs via an easy-to-use graphical interface." ("Motorola and Leading Developers Add Multimedia and Connectivity to Feature Phone Reference Design," CNBC)
Again, the security feature of the Personal Information Manager means that this mobile technology would be ideal to deploy in the electronic home aspect of electronic commerce. Additionally industry analysts such as "Schwab Sound view" named Motorola a Top Pick in the wireless group of stocks to watch. ("Market Report," 2004)
Nortel Networks Corporation
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