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Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Universal Cell Phone 

As cell phone technology advances, we have camera phones, internet phones, MP3-jukebox phones, PDA phones and the like springing up all over, and getting better every year.

What else could our portable gizmos be used for? One idea, starting to be quietly murmured in Health IT circles, is integrating them with electronic medical records, allowing patients to handily keep and communicate needed information as they move about the globe. The medical utility of cell phones doesn't stop there - even now, cell phones allow patients to call 911 more quickly from remote areas (say, on the road), and easier communication between mobile units and hospital-based medical control officers.

Korean telecom scientists have begun to go a step further, designing cell phones to act as medical devices, apparently treating indigestion, hangovers, and repelling mosquitoes. The latter sounds the most plausible to me, and also the most desirable. I'm always wary of easily overused cures.

Service providers are advancing too, although in slightly odd ways I'm not sure will work: BT has just introduced a crossover mobile-landline service in the UK, which allows customers to link their cells, via Bluetooth, to hubs in their homes and make calls by landline there. Interesting idea, but I get the impression it's going to need substantial revision to work well.

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