ATandT Wants People to Know Theres More to the Company Than Just Making Calls

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-04-20 Print this article Print

A New Way to €œToggle€ Between Home and Work Content on Mobile Devices

Designed for Android-running smartphones and tablets, Toggle is a device-management app that creates a wall between corporate data and a user€™s private data on a user-owned device. Ideal for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, there are no servers to install and it€™s completely scalable. A cloud-based Web portal gives service administrators a way to control the corporate environment, but they have zero access to the other side of the wall where the user€™s data€”games, photos, email, etc.€”live.

On the Toggle side of the wall are features like Toggle contacts, Toggle messenger, Toggle calendar and even a way to set up working hours, so users don€™t receive business alerts during personal time. There€™s a recurring monthly fee of $5 per user, and a one-time fee of either $350 or $750, depending on whether one chooses a Lite or Basic service package. The researchers also discovered that Toggle works on the Amazon Kindle platform, making it possible to even receive email on a Kindle.

Smartphones as Hotel Door Keys

An application using near-field communication (NFC) with an over-the-air (OTA) component could let a traveler check into a hotel using her smartphone. Instead of a desk clerk programming a code into a plastic key, the door code could be automatically sent to the phone. A traveler could then walk directly to their room and tap her NFC-enabled phone on the door€™s handle to unlock it.

Other capabilities for the technology, according its creator, Adam Lotia, with AT&T€™s Foundry, are using the phone as a ticket for public transportation or to get into a concert or sporting events, or to replace a swipeable employee ID badge. (In all fairness, Nokia, ahead of its time, showed off how phones could be used in place of swipeable badges as late as 2005.)

Instant Language Translation

Reseachers at AT&T Labs have developed an app called Spectra that they hope will make traveling or just communicating between languages simpler. Combining Translator, AT&T€™s cloud-based translation service, with automatic speech recognition (ASR) text-to-speech and AT&T€™s Watson speech-recognition technology, Spectra takes the spoken language, translates it into a chosen language and responds to the original speaker in his language.

Two researchers€”one speaking English with a heavy Indian accent and the other speaking Spanish€”used tablets to show off the technology, the first pretending to call for a cab. When the phone on his tablet rang, the first speaker requested the cab, and his words were typed on the screen, instant messaging (IM) style. The response came, typed on the screen in English, with the speaker€™s original response in Spanish typed below the English translation.

Watson is also being used by QNX Systems€”the company Research In Motion purchased several years back€”which works intensively with the automotive industry. With Watson€™s highly tuned voice-recognition system, a user can ask the car for directions to the nearest Starbucks, control in-car, rear-seat devices (where maybe kids are watching a movie), and when quickly connected to a smartphone or tablet, place calls and read aloud text messages or emails to the driver, as well as respond to these.

Or, most of the time. They are, again, in the late stages of development€”close, but not quite there.

Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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