Press 1 For The Moon

In previous articles we’ve highlighted the way in which the mobile phone has changed from being a voice communication device into a camera, game console, music streamer which also happens to enable you to make calls. Sometimes it seems as though the only limitation is our imagination and that has now conspired to send a phone into space.

 Before you think “so what” and comment that you’ve seen the press releases where phone companies have dropped cameras from the edge of space to test their robustness, this latest venture is way beyond those gimmicks. This venture sees a mobile phone being used to control and operate a satellite in orbit.

The STRaND (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) project is using a Google Nexus One phone mounted in a small satellite to prove the viability of using phones to operate space technology. Set next to a small viewing porthole the phone will initially take photos of earth and run a variety of apps, some for fun and some collecting scientific data. Among the fun apps is one which aims to test the validity of the slogan “in space no-one can hear you scream”. Once the satellite is in stable orbit some of its functions will be transferred to the mobile which will then effectively run the satellite.

STRaND say that the phone has not been stripped down in any way and, if required, they will be able to upload further apps to the phone while it is in orbit. Whilst some may question the need for the project, it not only shows the giant leaps forward in phone technology but also confirms the belief that the limitation of any phone is rapidly becoming that of the limit of the human imagination rather than technology. Moving back down to earth, let’s take the humble switchboard for example.

Once the preserve of the phone operator who answered and manually transferred calls, the switchboard has transformed into an online call management system which can revolutionise the caller/business relationship. Whilst many businesses still rely on “press 1” systems, others have integrated systems which encompass caller recognition, auto transfer and messaging. If you know you are going out but want to leave a message for a particular caller, no problem. If you are working overseas and want calls transferred, just programme call divert. For meetings without travel, call conferencing is at your fingertips and with call record you don’t even need to take notes.

So the next time you think about your phone system, don’t ask yourself what it does but ask what you would like it to do. Your clients may not yet be beyond the stars but with a little thought you can give them access to a phone service which is truly stellar.

Written by Lawrence Gow