Cellular radio, dating on the way

There are two types of progress in today’s technological world. There are your giant leaps forward, like 64-bit processors, smaller high density hard drives, wireless technology, digital cameras and flat screens. There are also your giant leaps sideways with the creation of new products that take the fullest advantage of the latest technologies, expanding the capability of software and products without reinventing the wheel.

The cell phone industry announced two sideways leaps this week with two new capabilities – one for playing singles, the other for meeting singles.

The first technology, announced by Sony, is a personalized radio service that users can tailor to broadcast to their own musical tastes.

Some cell phones can already play streaming music, but Sony’s user-programmed system is a first for the industry.

The service will kick off in Europe around June with a library of 50,000 songs for a subscription fee that is yet to be announced. The number of available songs is expected to increase as Sony’s online European music service gains ground.

There’s currently no name for the service, but Sony has already demonstrated how the service will work. It’s a little complicated but basically customers will be able create customized channels by storing a list of their favourite songs in personal playlists. A browsing tool will then scan playlists from dozens of different streaming services in advance, and choose the next songs based on your preferences. You can also listen to preset streaming services if you choose.

Once the system is released, the next step will see your playlist analyzed so the system can make recommendations.

The other cell phone service announced this week is a new twist on subscription dating services that makes chance meetings possible. Subscribers program their own specifications and preferences into their phone, and are alerted whenever another subscriber with matching specifications and preferences is in the immediate area. The two people will presumably seek each other out, if they’re interested (and presentable), and can see where it goes from there.

The technology is being called Serendipity, and it was created by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – so you can expect to meet a lot of tech nerds at first as the service goes live.

The service is not yet available through any cell phone networks, but Serendipity’s creators say it’s just a matter of time.

iPod’s challengers

In the world of digital music players, the Apple iPod is still the king with up to 40 GB of hard drive space, low carrying weight, fast uploads and downloads, dozens of accessories and iTunes support software. Prices start at around $300 for the smaller iTunes Mini’s and go up to around $700 for the souped-up models.


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