Thursday, May 31, 2007

Virgin Mobile USA expands mobile search

Virgin Mobile USA announced an agreement with mobile search technology provider JumpTap to extend the MVNO's WAP-based local search services, enabling subscribers to seek specific search terms by zip code as well as city and state. According to Virgin Mobile, the new capabilities also enable search for local maps and directions to and from destinations. Virgin Mobile introduced JumpTap's white-label search engine in February, allowing for on- and off-deck mobile content discovery via both sponsored and organic links.

"Local search provides our customers with quick and easy access to information right from their cell phones," said Virgin Mobile USA's vice president of mobile data services Dominick Tolli in a prepared statement. "By simply typing in a zip code, they can find restaurants, stores, maps and directions while they're out and about. Our customers no longer need to scramble to get to their computers for this type of local search information."

For more on the Virgin Mobile/JumpTap partnership:
- read this release

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Wireless Internet Technology Based Protocol Developed For LBS

T. John Kim, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Illinois
along with U. of I. postdoctoral fellow Sung-Gheel Jang, developed the protocol for the international standard for Geographic Information Systems, described by the U. of I. professor as “the backbone” of LBS. Earlier this year, the standard created by Kim and Jang was adopted and published by the International Organization for Standardization as ISO 19134.

Kim said LBS, introduced on cell phones in Korea and Japan, and just becoming available in the U.S., function through a combination of GIS; information, positioning, and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies; and the Internet.

“LBS combine hardware devices, wireless communication networks, geographic information and software applications that provide location-related guidance for customers,” Kim said. “It differs from mobile position determination systems such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in that Location Based Services provide much broader, application-oriented location services.”
While cars or hand-held electronic devices equipped with GPS may be useful when trying to get from one place to another, LBS go beyond providing routes and directions, functioning much the same way as a hotel concierge.
“For instance,” Kim said, “if it’s my wife’s birthday, and on my way home from the office I need to pick up a birthday cake and a dozen roses, I would want to know not only where is the nearest bakery and floral shop, but where is the cheapest – or the right – place to find these things that I want.”
The technology can be adapted for a wide range of other functions, he said, ranging from relaying locations of people requiring emergency assistance to first responders to providing alerts about traffic congestion.

Kim said the “proactive” decision by the research and standards communities and consumer-products manufacturers to come together and establish an industry standard for LBS before the market is flooded with devices offering concierge services is somewhat unusual, but highly practical.


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