Such phones lack the sensors and apps that we take for granted, but they are cheap and reliable. Now engineers are looking at ways in making ordinary handsets smarter by giving them features normally associated with smartphones.
One area is location specific information. While smartphones use GPS sensors for location functions, the Cell Broadcast Service (CBS) can send text messages to all handsets in the immediate vicinity and is used for providing weather information and advertisements as well as emergency alerts.
As an alternative to GPS, it is possible to determine the precise location by triangulating signals from cell towers and wireless hubs, though this requires information on the exact locations of the transmitters. Although these are documented in the developed world, they are not in countries such as India. CBS transmitters transmit their general locations but not their precise longitude and latitude. However software has now been developed that can determine this using Google Maps geo coding which can be accessed over the network.
The system is not as good as GPS, which provides a positional accuracy of just a few meters. The best that can achieved using CBS based triangulation is 400 meters hardly sufficient for accurate navigation. However it is still very useful in countries that tend to use landmark navigation. Ironically, in the future CBS triangulation might be used in combination with GPS in smartphones as it has much lower power requirements.
Another way of smartening up handsets is with file sharing. Data transfer over the networks in the developing world tends to be very slow, but MobiShare is a system that allows users to find music and movies that have been downloaded by their contacts, and which predicts when the contact will be in the same location as them so they can transfer files directly. When both users are in range of the same cell tower, they are sent a message via CBS to their mobile phones.
Many phones in the developing world are donated by users in the developed world who have updated their old handsets, and donated phones make a huge contribution to people’s lives. With a free phone they are able to access inexpensive sim only deals and often these are shared by a number of people. If you would like to donate your phone, then Oxfam and other charity organisations are running phone donation schemes.
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This is a guest post by Claire Chat a Londoner interested in technology in general as well as in the mobile and telecommunication industry. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).
This article is contributed by Claire Chat and posted by Rizwan Ahmad Author and founder of cyberockk.com, He is a tech blogger from India and he loves to share his thoughts by writing articles on this site to the different topics related to technology world,