Thursday, February 25, 2010

Friday Night SMS - Feasible via Zigbee

One of the new features in the FLOW is the inclusion of a Zigbee modem, instead of the currently prevalent bluetooth. If you get a Overo Fire - it will have a bluetooth on board. A while back we came up with the Friday night phone call idea, routing a call through the wireless of all the unused phones in the area, very useful in crowded club districts.

Voice is a different matter it requires some decent bandwidth, bluetooth can provide it for wireless headsets. The telcos charge exorbinant amounts for the very low-bandwidth SMS services, why ? Because they have centralized user-management and routing systems, they also theoretically have a lot of QoS, security and privacy policies. Yet again in the club scenario SMS is one of the best ways to communicate, voice will be lost in the din and will require the callee to switch location.

Let's consider how we can break the monopoly without paying zillions to licence our own mobile band. Solution will be to build a user maintained/powered/administered zigbee mesh. Zigbee can power itself from energy-harvesting - thumping on the dance floor, peltier sucking off some of the coldness in your beer or the heat in your coffee. We always go over the top in our energy use, it would be nice to channel some of it into free/cheaper communication. The zigbee mesh can take and channel the first hop, suppose the SMS target is beyond mesh reach, what do we do ? We hop on the old faithful - IP.

Before there was internet, there were lots of small intranets. Now we have and 'SMS like' service running over http with lots of users - Twitter seems to have no trouble raising funds. May be it can offer a cheaper solution to all the user to user functions the telco claims to perform. The mesh network links to an IP gateway and the SMS hops onto the twitter channel as a direct message. For that matter any chat engine will do, jabber, msn etc etc, just need to address the target properly.

But at the end someone has to pay the piper (the transmitter of data). Working out who does that and how much is a political issue, but I definitely want a cheaper piper. If energy harvesting lets me sing and dance to send an SMS I will do that.
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