April 16, 2003 6:01 PM PDT
Nokia camera sends a cell message
The Observation Camera will launch in July, executives for the Finnish phone giant said Tuesday. The sub-$500 device is among the first to use so-called machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, which lets machines use cellular telephone networks to communicate with computer systems or other machines.
M2M has attracted some big-name supporters, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Intel, which are all trying to capture a bigger slice of the emerging market for wireless monitoring gear.
Wireless Data Research Group expects worldwide sales of such devices to blossom to $28 billion a year by 2007, as companies rip out the wiring now needed to accomplish the same tasks.
But for now, devices and buyers remain few and far between. Nokia has released just one other product, a GSM connectivity terminal. Meanwhile, customers for M2M gear are limited mainly to security firms or large manufacturing plants, said Michael Lang, president of wireless equipment provider Airdesk, which plans to sell the new Nokia-made cameras in the United States.
Lang said each cameras will cost $350 to $400 and will be coupled with cellular service from either AT&T Wireless or T-Mobile, both of which have approved the device for use on their networks.
The machine-to-machine concept, introduced two years ago and heavily backed by Nokia, would provide a cellular phone number and phone radio to the billions of machines on the planet. That way, they could automatically communicate their needs, such as when they require repairs, by sending a message over a cellular network.
The camera is turned from optical wonder to cell phone dialer by the insertion of a subscriber identification module (SIM) card, which is the thumbnail-sized chip inside cell phones that contains key subscriber information such as account numbers and pass codes.
By adding a SIM card, which is easily removable from cell phones, the camera literally has a phone number. With a few programming tweaks, any cell phone can send it a blank text message, and the camera replies with a photo of something snapped just moments earlier, said Nokia spokesman Keith Nowak.