By Jeff Vedders

File this under the heading ‘what will they think of next?’  I subscribe to MIT’s Technology Review email newsletter (I described MIT’s Technology Review web site – – in our June 2003 newsletter.  The web site is worth a look if you haven’t checked it out yet), where an article showed up a few days ago describing some of the advanced software being developed for cell phones.  The author describes a service called Dodgeball.  Dodgeball is one of the latest social software packages being developed by cell phone companies.  You can type in your current location on your cell phone and get a list of friends and acquaintances within a few city blocks.  You can instantly message them about getting together and you can even send a picture of yourself.

There are also several companies that are using similar technologies for business conferences.  These companies offer wireless network services that are designed to help conference-goers get the most out of the event.  For example, Spotme will allow you to get a photograph and professional information about anyone within 30 meters.  You can even send them an instant message.

Microsoft is also developing software for cell phones through its Auro project.  With Auro you point your phone (outfitted with the Auro software and a barcode scanner) at the UPC bar on an item you’re considering buying.  Instantly, information about the object including comments from online discussion forums pops up, helping you make a purchasing decision.

What does this mean for economic development?  Cell phones and wireless technology are a huge part of everyone’s lives, and the technologies are here to stay.  Right now, the possibilities for wireless technologies are virtually unlimited.  Not only is it important to think about targeting companies that manufacture the hardware for wireless technologies, it is equally important to target companies developing software to be used for these technologies. 

Source: “Social Lives of a Cell Phone,” Eric Bender, Technology Review, July 12, 2004.