Wireless to organise and save lives!

Imagine a warning on your cell phone that tells you when a parent in ill health needs help, when you?ve eaten too much, or that you should avoid your regular commute because of a biohazard danger.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 14:32 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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Imagine a warning on your cell phone that tells you when a parent in ill health needs help, when you’ve eaten too much, or that you should avoid your regular commute because of a biohazard danger.

Forget mobile music and video. Wireless may end up running your life – down to when to wash your underwear.

This may sound far-fetched, but laboratories around the world are exploring such scenarios as wireless networks become more robust and amid moves to miniaturise electronic chips to the point where they can be discreetly placed into any product.

James Canton, president of Institute for Global Futures, a consultancy that advises on trends, says sensor chips may one day even be embedded into underwear to send laundry-related text or voice alerts to cell phones, “It will tell you when it needs to get cleaned,” he said and suggested a potential prompt: “Stop using that bleach on me because it’s shrinking me and if I shrink any more, you’re not going to be able to wear me.” Professor John Guttag from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is studying how wirelessly connected medical devices, such as heart-monitor sensors, could automatically send warnings of a problem to the patient’s cell phone and then on to a relative or a doctor.

But Guttag said such devices would only work if they are sophisticated enough to avoid false alarms. “The machine will have to be clever enough to tell the difference between fainting and having a nap,” he said.

“The doctors will go nuts if hypochondriacs flood them with information every day.” Cell phones, software, computers and sensors can also work together to make our jobs easier and eliminate menial daily chores, according to researchers at the world’s biggest handset makers.

But one analyst was skeptical about focusing on such sophisticated applications as he believes it will take years for more basic advances, such as simply connecting televisions and computers with wireless instead of cable.

SMART BOX
Far-fetched but possible
• Chip-embedded clothes could help suppliers manage their stocks
• Others foresee a prevalence of wireless sensors
for potentially life-saving applications
• A wireless device that can read license plates could
automatically link to a
database to tell if the car belonged to somebody with no speeding record
• One may be able to host a Web site from his phone to share holiday notes or create a personal diary

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 14:32 IST