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Teaching your cell phone where it is and how to act


Future cellular telephones and other wireless communication devices are expected to be much more versatile as consumers gain the ability to program them in a variety of ways. Scientists and engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have teamed up with a variety of computing and telecommunications companies to develop both the test methods and the standard protocols needed to make this possible.

Programmable networks will include location aware services that will allow users to choose a variety of "context aware" call processing options depending on where they are and who they are with. For example, a cell phone that "knows" your location could be programmed to invoke an answering message service automatically whenever you are in a conference room or in your supervisor’s presence. Context aware, programmable cell phone or PDA networks also may help users with functional tasks like finding the nearest bank or restaurant. Within organizations, these capabilities might be used to contact people by their role and location (e.g., call the cardiologist nearest to the emergency room).

Before such capabilities can be realized on common commercial systems, groundwork must be completed to design and test open specifications of features, rules and procedures for programmable call control systems, and to develop protocols that will enable these systems to utilize context information. NIST, working with Sun Microsystems, has designed and developed new Java specifications (JAIN SIP) that provide a common platform for programmable communication devices. The NIST work is based on the Session Initiation Protocol, a specification for call control on the Internet. NIST’s open source implementation (NIST SIP) is a prototype that serves as a development guide and facilitates interoperability testing by early industry adopters of this technology.

Philip Bulman | EurekAlert!
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