I recently had to get some official papers signed so a Notary Public came by the office. She said she was "allergic" to cell phones and asked everyone who came within 20 feet of her to remove their phone. I think she has bigger problems than cell phones because there are radio waves of all frequencies swirling around us all the time. In the US 52% of homes now have Wi-Fi blanketing their neighborhood with waves (surpassing the 50% of homes who have traditional Ethernet).
Until now Wi-Fi has been used almost exclusively as a way to connect your PC to the internet with no wires, but that's about to change as new portable and home devices also gain Wi-Fi capability. By the end of the year the chips to add Wi-Fi functionality to any electronic equipment are projected to be less than $2 for the largest manufacturers. Imagine a world where every electrical device in your house and every phone/PDA have a net connection via Wi-Fi. We'll be there sooner than you think.
The best early example of this trend is the brilliantly designed Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. I'm not sure "tablet" is the most accurate name because it's size is closer to a small pamphlet (5 inches by 3 inches) weighing just 8 ounces. It connects to the net via Wi-Fi and has a touch screen with industry leading battery life of a couple days on standby. The $350 device debuted late last year to some acclaim for its Linux operating system and speedy Opera web browser. What was lacking was software to do much more than just web browsing. Over the last year I visited Helsinki several times to see if my companies could help provide software to make the 770 more versatile. I thought the 770 could be an ideal music machine streaming music right from an online locker because it has a high quality headphone jack. It could be a telephone to make and receive internet calls and traditional calls, but surprisingly came with no software to use the internal microphone.
This week SIPphone unveiled a free version of Gizmo Project for the Nokia 770. We took the Linux version of Gizmo Project and redesigned it for the tiny dimensions of the 770. Using Gizmo Project, 770 users now have full SIP-standard VoIP capabilities as well as instant messaging via Jabber. In spite of the pared down size the Gizmo Project for the 770 has nearly all the features of its larger PC cousin for Mac/MSWin/Lin including the ability to make PC calls, get a Call-in number to receive calls from any phone in the world and call any phone in the world using Call-Out. The call quality, especially for pure net calls, is nothing short of impressive. You might think I'm biased so check out what others like top VoIP blogger Andy Abramson are saying about Gizmo Project on the 770.
Users are already finding clever uses for the 770 running Gizmo Project. Gadgetmadness wrote about using the auto-answer feature to turn the 770 into a spy gadget or baby monitor by calling your Gizmo Call-In number from any regular mobile or landline phone and having the 770 pickup the call and let you hear what's going on. Another useful application for the 770 is to use it with a dual ringing phone number that you can purchase at area775.com. When you receive a call on this number it will ring on your traditional mobile phone, your PC and your Nokia 770 and you can answer it any place that suits you. This is the future of telephony!
Along with VOIP the 770 can be a great music device. The goal at MP3tunes is to make your music available everywhere on any device - not just i-products from Apple. We worked with Nokia to transform the 770 into the first net walkman by designing touch screen software which plays your music from your locker. The software has big buttons which can be clicked with your finger to give you instant access to your artists, albums and playlists streaming over Wi-Fi. The built-in speaker is small, but the headphone jack pumps out high quality audio. Because the music is streamed there are no storage limitations. You can manage your music on any computer via the web interface and then use the 770 to access that same music and any playlists you created via the web.
Today the Nokia 770 is a technological marvel with its large touch screen, impressive battery life, Wi-Fi access and infinitely customizable Linux operating system. But a few years from now, it will be commonplace for many of the devices in your home, in your car or that you carry around to have Wi-Fi capability. At MP3tunes we have published our API so that all these will be able to play your personal music collection. We're working closely with many different hardware manufacturers of phone handsets, PDAs, set top boxes, internet alarm clocks and other unique devices to make this a reality and Wi-Fi is making it happen.