Showing posts with label Apps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Apps. Show all posts

Saturday, 16 June 2012

1 Billion Augmented Reality (AR) users by 2020

It has been slow but I am getting more and more convinced that AR can do far more than what we think it can. Part of my pessimism was due to the fact that this is placed on the Peak of Inflated expectations on the Gartner Hype cycle and was predicted to go to the trough. But in the end success depends of what the available apps are like.

Part of my optimism stems from the fact that things have been changing rapidly. Take for example the 'Augmented Future' video. When I watched it I thought this would happen but maybe quite a few years down the road. Then came the 'Project Glass' video and suddenly you are thinking from 'how it would be done' to 'when will this be available'. The latest news I read was that the prototypes are being tested Google's offices.

I am sure the first few releases would be far from perfect and will have few features, security issues, etc. but we certainly think its possible. I dont know its working but it could be actually synched with a device in your pocket and is just an add on that communicates via something like Bluetooth.

In a recent event, Intel showed off their new Ultrabook features using Augmented Reality. See the video:

And there is another video of BBC frozen planet where people can put themselves with the Augmented creatures. See below:

These just go to show what can be done via Augmented reality. With more and more powerful devices that are available to us at reasonable prices, all that needs to be done is to create Apps and they will find the users trying to make most out of them.

I have already posted some videos and presentations from an event back in March that talk more about the apps and the platforms here.

The idea of 1 Billion AR users is not mine but has been used by Tomi Ahonen in a recent TEDx presentation and his blog post. The TEDx video as follows:

You can read  more about Tomi's idea on Aurmented Reality in his blog post here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

#FWIC: OTT Stats, Facts and Figures

The 4th Future of Wireless International Conference (#FWIC) is 2 weeks away and the main theme of the conference is "The Reshaping of the Mobile Industry". In some of the recent conferences I have attended, OTT has been one of the main topic of discussion and a concern for the operators. The operators are at the top of the food chain, whatever affects them eventually affects the other players within the mobile industry. With this is mind, we have prepared a document that collects all the figures in one place to be used as a handy reference for quoting stats and figures.
The above presentation is available to download from Slideshare here.

The agenda for the conference is available here. I am also chairing track 4 on day 1, "Where next for devices" so please feel free to join us in the discussion if devices are an area of your interest.

You can also connect with the other attendees of the conference on Linkedin here.

Finally, here is my summary of the event from last year. I look forward to meeting all of you who will be attending this event.

Monday, 11 June 2012

The 'Virtual' Femtocell and a competition for OTT Apps

Over the last few months we have been thinking of so many ideas around small cells and this is something that we thought. It looks very simple and straightforward and having talked to a few small cells experts, off the record, none of them seem to be able to see anything wrong with this concept. With the 'Small Cells World Summit' just round the corner I am sure this could be something worth a discussion.

I am explaining the concept using an HSPA+ setup but there is no reason why this would not work in an LTE Setup. This is a typical connection for HSPA+ Femtocell setup with the gateway acting as a concentrator for all Iuh connections and having a single Iu connection towards the core. I have not shown CS/PS connection separately for simplicity. 
We propose a 'Virtual' or 'Invisible' Femtocell concept where we think that the Femtocell is redundant but the concept can be used to avoid the coverage and capacity problems faced by the operators and at the same time avoid the 'Signalling storm', atleast on the access network side. Now most smartphones have WiFi stack inbuilt. For this concept to work, WiFi in the phone is a must. Instead of having a Femtocell in between, a modified stack could be embedded in the phone itself. The output of the phone over WiFi are the Iuh messages that can terminate at the gateway and no difference would be needed from the core network side. This is illustrated in the picture below.
The phones would also need to have an enhanced UI to be able to allow a user to select only this option when roaming. You don't want a situation where the user thinks that he is camped on the 'Virtual' femtocell and making/receiving calls while he is not and run up a huge bill.

Advantages of this approach:

  • The Femtocells are no longer really needed and the end customer does not require to buy a separate equipment, which is different for different operators.
  • The phones can be working whenever a reliable WiFi connection is available, even if they are abroad without incurring costly roaming charges.
  • Some operators that do not have a lot of spectrum available avoid using Femtocells as they can cause interference and black holes in the coverage. 
  • There is no worry of a femtocell being used abroad illegally thereby causing interference with spectrum in another country.
  • Some security issues can be totally avoided and it would be worth for the operators that the keys being used cannot be seen by others.
  • A lot of people use OTT apps like Skype, Viber, Whatsapp when abroad, being camped on WiFi to avoid costly roaming charges. This approach would mean that the normal Voice and Messaging becomes similar to OTT and can help operator avoid losing out to the OTT apps. 

Disadvantages of this approach:

  • WiFi spectrum is already congested and does not always give reliable coverage.
  • Security issues would have to be looked in detail to make sure this would be secure enough. Since this concept is similar to creating a VPN between the phone and the gateway, I wouldnt think there would be any issues though.
  • Roaming revenues are a big cash cow for the operators, most of them would be unwilling to lose this if the phones are using this approach.

I think this concept is more suitable for the Residential Femtocells rather than the other Small Cells (enterprise, metro, pico, etc.) and there will always be a need for them. The main reason being that on a large scale, WiFi is extremely unreliable, prone to interference and not future proofed. A new device may cause interference that may take forever to resolve. Operating a small cell in the licensed spectrum would always make sense and the reliability would be much higher.

If you think this makes sense please click the 'Useful' checkbox so that I know.

As a company we are always looking to engage with other companies to discuss similar ideas. If you are a company dealing with Small Cells and are open to discussing similar ideas, please let us know.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Security issues in new technologies

I have attended a lot of events/talks in the last month where people talked about Augmented Reality, Proximity Marketing, QR codes, etc. but nobody seems to talk about security. Its being taken for granted. For example MAC's have been said to be Virus proof and they probably are but other Apps may be infectable and in this case its the Java that has allowed a MAC botnet about 0.6 Million strong.

Some years back proximity marketing via Bluetooth was a big thing and we were lucky to be involved with couple of projects making it possible but then the Bluetooth virus came to light and people stopped leaving their Bluetooth on in public places. Doesnt look like Bluetooth based proximity marketing has gone very far since those days.

QR codes is a simple way to for advertisers redirect the end users to their websites but then recently I read that a rogue QR code can be used to redirect the end users to a site that can be used to hack their phones. The main thing pointed out is that 99% of the time QR codes are read by mobile phones and 99% of these phones are either iPhones or Android's, which can help narrow down the exploits.

There is a good chance that when there is mass adoption of these new technologies, Security is going to be a big issue. Not sure if enough is being done. If there are any pointers on security issues please feel free to comment.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Project Glass: One day... By Google

I seem to like the Corning ones more that I blogged here.

** New Edits 05/04/12 09:40 **
From CNET:

Google's augmented reality glasses are real! Dubbed Project Glass, the long-rumoured lenses that show you heads-up information about the world around you have been confirmed by the company.
At the moment, Google's announcement is limited to a Google+ page
Here is a parody on above video from Tom Scott:

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Joyn = SMS v2.0?

'Joyn' is the brand name for the RCS services that have been around in the name for a long while. Yesterday someone sent this link for the Fierce Wireless article that had the link to the above Vodafone video.

In theory this sounds great but in practice it may be a bit difficult for operators to sell. One of the selling point for this service is that it is going to be part of the standards so independent of the platform. Android and iOS are the two most popular platforms and more and more users are adopting them. The OTT apps are now available on both these platforms, meaning that it will have mass market adoption. If some other platforms have to succeed then they have to make these most popular apps available on their platform or they will not survive. Microsoft has been rumoured to have paid Rovio to develop the first Angry Birds for the WP platform and they may have to do the same again since the new Angry Birds space is not available on the Windows mobile platform.

In any case, Joyn may be good and it can provide enhanced services but I have a feeling that it may be a bit too little and too late to succeed.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Monday, 19 March 2012

Vuforia™: Qualcomm's Augmented Reality (AR) Platform

As I mentioned yesterday, while some people think that Augmented Reality is losing its charm, Qualcomm certainly thinks that things are looking up for AR and it can only get better. They have branded their AR platform as Vuforia. A recent presentation from Cambridge Wireless event is embedded below:

There are some interesting video's on Augmented Reality using the Vuforia platform on Youtube. Some of them as follows:

All presentations from the CW event are available here.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Augmented Reality on the 'Peak of Inflated Expectations'

In a recent event in Cambridge Wireless, one of the topics of discussion was where does 'Augmented Reality' sit on the Peak of Inflated Expectations. While one of the speaker thought that it was on the Peak going towards Trough, most of the others thought that it had already passed the trough and is now going up.

Some six months back I put a picture up from the Gartner Hype Cycle that showed that the Augmented Reality is at the peak going towards the trough.

What do you think? Any opinions?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Mobile Video is more than 50% of the data traffic

With the popularity of video streaming, its no surprise that video is already more than 50% of the data traffic flowing through the network.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Ericsson Video: Using LTE to broadcast Danish elections

Danes elected a new parliament September 15. As four teams from TV 2 moved between party headquarters, Parliament House and celebration sites, they used standard off-the-shelf LTE terminals to upload interviews to the tv-station, which in turn broadcast the content live to viewers on their channel.

The solution is provided by operator TDC, on the network supplied and managed by Ericsson.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Service Layer Optimization element to Improve Utilisation of Network Capacity

The following is an extract from 4G Americas whitepaper, "Optimizing the Mobile Application Ecosystem":

Applications have diverse requirements on the mobile network in terms of throughput, relative use of uplink vs. downlink, latency and variability of usage over time. While the underlying IP based Layer 3 infrastructure attempts to meet the needs of all the applications, significant network capacity is lost to inefficient use of the available resources. This inefficiency stems primarily from the non-deterministic nature of the aggregate requirements on the network from the numerous applications and their traffic flows live at any time.

This reduction in network utilization can be mitigated by incorporating application awareness into network traffic management through use of Application or Service Layer optimization technologies. A Service Layer optimization solution would incorporate awareness of:

1) device capabilities such as screen size and resolution;
2) user characteristics such as billing rates and user location;
3) network capabilities such as historic and instantaneous performance and;
4) application characteristics such as the use of specific video codecs and protocols by an application such as Video on Demand (VOD) to ensure better management of network resources.

Examples of Service Layer optimization technologies include:
* Real-time transcoding of video traffic to avoid downlink network congestion and ensure better Quality of Experience (QoE) through avoidance of buffering
* Shaping of self-adapting traffic such as Adaptive Streaming traffic through packet delay to avoid downlink network congestion
* Shaping of error-compensating flows such as video conferencing through use of packet drops to avoid uplink network congestion
* Shaping of large flows such as file uploads on the uplink through packet delays to conserve responsiveness of interactive applications such as web browsing
* Explicit caching of frequently accessed content such as video files on in-network CDNs to minimize traffic to backbone
* Implicit caching of frequently accessed content such as images in web content on in-network caches to improve web page retrieval speeds

Service Layer optimization technologies may be incorporated in the data path in many locations:
1) the origin server;
2) the UE device;
3) as a cloud-hosted offering through which devices and/or applications and/or networks route traffic or;
4) as a network element embedded in a service provider’s network.

Further, in a service provider’s network the optimization function may be deployed in either the core network and/or edge aggregation locations. When Service Layer optimization entities in the network are deployed at both core and edge locations, they may operate in conjunction with each other to form a hierarchy with adequate level of processing to match the traffic volume and topology. Such a hierarchy of network entities is especially effective in the case of caching.

The 3GPP standard network architecture defines a number of elements such as QoS levels that are understood and implemented in the network infrastructure. However, much of this network capability is not known or packaged for use in the Service Layer by application developers. One approach to resolving this discrepancy may be to publish standard Service Layer APIs that enable application developers to request network resources with specific capabilities and also to get real-time feedback on the capabilities of network resources that are in use by the applications. Such APIs may be exposed by the network to the cloud or may be exposed to application clients resident on mobile devices through device application platforms and SDKs. The network APIs being defined by the Wholesale Application Community are an example of the recognition of the need for such Service Layer visibility into network capabilities. Future versions of the WAC standards will likely incorporate and expose network Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities.

Pic Source: Aria Networks

Why does Optimization matter? A good answer to this question is provided in article as follows:

For many people, says Constantine Polychronopoulos, founder and chief technology officer of mobile internet infrastructure specialist Bytemobile, the definition of optimisation as it relates to mobile networks is too narrow; restricted to compressing data or to the tweaking of the radio access network in a bid to improve throughput. While these are key elements of optimisation, he says, the term ought to be interpreted far more broadly. “The best way for us to think of optimisation,” he says, “is as a set of synergistic technologies that come together to address everything that has to do with improving network and spectrum utilisation and user experience. If you stretch the argument, it includes pretty much every thing that matters. This holistic, end-to-end approach to optimisation is the hallmark of Bytemobile’s solutions. Point products tend to be costly and difficult or impossible to evolve and maintain.”

And optimisation matters, he says, because the boom in mobile data traffic experienced in some of the world’s most advanced mobile markets represents a serious threat to carrier performance and customer satisfaction. US operator and pioneer iPhone partner AT&T is a case in point, Polychronopoulos says.

“If you look at what’s been said by Ralph de la Vega (president and CEO of AT&T Mobility) and John Donovan (the firm’s CTO), they have seen a 5,000- per cent increase in data traffic over the past two years. The data points from other operators are similar,” he continues. “They see an exponential growth of data traffic with the introduction of smartphones, in particular the iPhone.”

Operators may have received what they’d been wishing for but the scale of the uptake has taken them by surprise, Polychronopoulos says. The type of usage consumers are exhibiting can be problematic as well. Bytemobile is seeing a great deal of video-based usage, which can often be a greater drain on network resource than web browsing. Given the increasing popularity of embedding video content within web pages, the problem is becoming exacerbated.

Dr. Polychronopoulos is keen to point out that there are optimisation opportunities across different layers of the OSI stack—Bytemobile offers solutions that will have an impact on layers three (the IP layer) through seven (the application layer). But he stresses that some of the most effective returns from optimisation technologies come from addressing the application layer, where the bulk of the data is to be found.

“An IP packet can be up to 1,500 bytes long,” he says. “So at layer three, while you can balance packet by packet, there is only so much you can do to optimise 1,500 bytes. At the top layer, the application can be multiple megabytes or gigabytes if you’re watching video. And when you’re dealing with those file sizes in the application layer, there is a whole lot more you can do to reduce the amount of data or apply innovative delivery algorithms to make the content more efficient,” he says.

By optimising content such as video, Polychronopoulos says, significant gains can be made in spectral and backhaul network utilisation. A range of options are open to operators, he says, with some techniques focused on optimising the transport protocol, and others designed to reduce the size of the content.

“With video, we can resize the frame, we can reduce the number of frames, we can reduce the resolution of the frame or apply a combination of the above in a way that does not affect the video quality but greatly improves network efficiencies,” he says. “So if you go to a site like YouTube and browse a video, you might download something like 100MB of data. But if you were to go through a platform like ours, you may download only 50MB when the network is congested and still experience not only the same video quality, but also fluid video playback without constant re-buffering stalls.”

It is possible, he explains, to run these solutions in a dynamic way such that data reduction engages only when the network is congested. If a user seeks to access high-volume data like video during the network’s quiet time, the reduction technologies are not applied. But when things are busier, they kick in automatically and gradually. This could have an application in tiered pricing strategies. Operators are looking at such options in a bid to better balance the cost of provisioning mobile data services with the limited revenue stream that they currently generate because of the flat rate tariffs that were used to stimulate the market in the first place. Being able to dynamically alter data reduction and therefore speed of delivery depending on network load could be a useful tool to operators looking to charge premium prices for higher quality of service, Polychronopoulos says.

If it is possible to reduce video traf- fic in such a way that data loads are halved but the end user experience does not suffer proportionally, the question arises as to why operators would not simply reduce everything, whether the network was busy or not. Polychronopoulos argues that in quiet times there are no savings to be made by reducing the size of content being transported.

“The operator has already provisioned the network one way or another,” he says, “so there is a certain amount of bandwidth and a certain amount of backhaul capacity. When the network is not congested, the transport cost is already sunk. When it becomes congested, though, you get dropped calls and buffering and stalled videos and the user experience suffers. That’s where optimisation shines. Alternatively, media optimisation can be factored in during toplevel network provisioning when the savings in CAPEX can be extremely compelling.”

While LTE is held up by some within the industry as the panacea to growing demand for more mobile broadband service, Polychronopoulos is unconvinced. If anything, he says, the arrival of the fourth generation will serve only to exacerbate the situation.

“LTE is going to make this problem far more pronounced, for a number of reasons,” he says. “As soon as you offer improved wireless broadband, you open the door to new applications and services. People are always able to come up with new ways of inundating any resource, including bandwidth. We’re going to see more data-driven applications on mobile than we see on the typical desktop, because the mobile device is always with you.” And while LTE promises greater spectral efficiency than its 3G forebears, Polychronopoulos says, the fact that spectrum remains a finite resource will prove ever more problematic as services evolve.

“We’re reaching the limits of spectral efficiency,” he says. “Shannon’s Law defines the limit as six bits per Hertz, and while we may be moving to higher-bandwidth wireless broadband, spectrum remains finite. To offer 160Mbps, you have to allocate twice the amount of spectrum than in 3G, and it’s a very scarce and very expensive resource.”

Operators have been wrong to focus exclusively on standards-based solutions to network optimisation issues, Polychronopoulos says. In restricting themselves to 3GPP-based solutions, he argues that they have missed what he describes as “the internet component of wireless data.” Internet powerhouses like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft (which he dubs ‘the GYM consortium’) have established a model that he says is a great threat to the mobile operator community in that it establishes a direct consumer relationship and disregards the “pipe” (wireless broadband connection) used to maintain that relationship.

“The operators have to accelerate the way they define their models around wireless data so that they’re not only faster than the GYM consortium in terms of enabling popular applications, but smarter and more efficient as well,” he says. Dr. Polychronopoulos then makes a popular case for the carriers’ success: “The operators have information about the subscriber that no other entity in the internet environment can have; for example, they know everything the subscriber has done over the lifetime of their subscription and the location of each event. They don’t have to let this data outside of their networks, so they are very well positioned to win the race for the mobile internet.”

Monday, 28 March 2011

Monday, 7 March 2011

Augmented Reality: Future Killer App?

Augmented Reality can be understood very easily with the two videos embedded below:

It may look cool and one may wonder how this can be useful practically, here is another video showing how this can be used:

So in future you may have quite a few people who can only look at you through the [phone rather than directly :)

The following is an extract from The Guardian article titled, "What is mobile augmented reality for?":

Mobile augmented reality is a relatively young technology, but it has already attracted a great deal of hype and scepticism in equal measure.

Overlaying digital information onto the real world, viewed through a cameraphone, is technically impressive, but the business models and usage patterns are still evolving.

That's a polite way of saying mobile AR is cool, but nobody really knows what it's for, or how it will make money. One of the more interesting conference sessions at this year's Mobile World Congress aimed to answer the key question: what is it for?

Tourism has been an early focus. Just this week, travel site TripAdvisor added an augmented reality feature to its iPad app (pictured above), while Lonely Planet has also used AR elements in several of its travel apps.

"You are most information-starved when you are in a completely new environment," said Jeremy Kreitler, vice-president of mobile at Lonely Planet. "Those are probably the environments where augmented reality will flourish the most."

The Layar chief executive, Raimo Van der Klein, pointed to the popularity of Twitter layers in his company's app, which allow people to see local tweets superimposed on their camera view of the world around them.

"In the future, it will be the physical world that will trigger usage," he said. "Your dynamic and changing context, as you interact with different media, products, packaging and people, and you would like to make sense of what you encounter."

Technology firm Qualcomm recently held an augmented reality contest for mobile developers, announcing three winners this week at Mobile World Congress. All three were games.

Qualcomm's vice-president of ventures, Nagraj Kashyap, took the view that games are often a good proving ground for new technologies in their early stages, with AR no different.

"It's just something that appeals to a wide cross-section of users," he said. "But to have augmented reality become mass, we need to move out of just the gaming context."

Qualcomm sees much potential in marketing, particularly when AR is used to add an interactive layer to print advertisements. Kashyap also thought educational and instructional AR content will be popular in the future. "Imagine pointing your phone at a newly bought washing machine and getting instructions for it on your phone."

However, Philipp Schloter, chief executive of developer Abukai, said that looking for individual killer apps is the wrong way to approach augmented reality.

"This is really more of an enabler that sits across many different areas," he said. He was backed up by Peter Meier, founder of Metaio, the company which makes the Junaio AR browser app. "I always see augmented reality as a new user interface technology, and less as something for which there's the killer app out there," said Meier.

"For me, this is about accessing and understanding information more easily, and enjoying information that is somehow related to the real world ... I don't think there's a killer app. This is more like the next touchscreen for mobile phones – more like the next user interface revolution."

David Marimon, who heads up mobile augmented reality and visual search for operator group Telefonica, suggested that new uses for AR will be found as different kinds of developers start to work with it, including visual and interaction designers.

He also said that Telefonica is keen to help developers find new uses for AR by providing them with technology and APIs to tap into the operator's customer data.

"We know where mobile phones are thanks to GPS and other sensors, which is a very intuitive starting point to get the context of the user," he said. "We are also working on visual recognition to acquire that context: we need to know what the user is looking at, for which we can use the camera."

In the recently concluded Mobile World Congress, there was a panel that discussed the options on Augmented Reality or AR as its better known. The slides are embedded below but only the initial slides provide some value.

I have heard of some and can can think of some more simple applications that can actually be very useful. Maybe some of them are already being developed.

1. reviews of Pubs/Clubs - If you planning to go to some Pub/club in an area you can just look at the places through your lens and immediately see the number of stars received in reviews.

2. Virtual tour guide - One of the apps Lonely Planet are working on is developing virtual tour guides that can tell you all the information about a place once in your mobile camera

3. In some countries where For Sale sign could not be put while selling houses, you can go in an area and look at the houses though your camera and it will tell you which house is for sale, which estate agent and what is the price

4. Some manufacturers have suggested that simple procedures required with gadgets like changing the toner or a printer can be done using AR apps.

5. Games is certainly and area that is going to be a major user of AR for effects and to get people excited

6. Dating apps could use AR to tell about the places where singles hangout in the real time.

8. CV's for Jobs - Personally, I think QR code can do the job in this case

9. AR could be used as your personal shopping assistant in the supermarket helping you do your shopping in the least amount of time - assuming you know all the things that need to be bought in advance

And many more uses of AR can be thought of and debated.

Finally, there is also a recent presentation titled "Augmented Research" embedded below:

Friday, 4 March 2011

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Five quick videos from Mobile World Congress 2011 - 2

Facebook onto a SIM using Class 2 SMS

I am sure you have already heard of Gemalto's (worlds largest SIM manufacturer and supplier) Facebook on the SIM announcement. The advantage of this approach is that 100% of the existing phones will be able to support facebook (if the operator supports the application on the SIM). This is a big step0 forward. The press release says:

Gemalto’s software development team has embedded the software application into the SIM. This ensures the Facebook application is compatible with 100% of SIM-compliant mobile phones.

The innovative solution provides mobile subscribers with simple and convenient access to core Facebook features such as friend requests, status updates, wall posts or messages. It also offers unique functions: people can sign up for this service and log in directly from the SIM application. Interactive Facebook messages pop-up on the phone’s screen so people can always share up-to-the-minute posts and events. One can also automatically search their SIM phonebook for other friends and send them requests.

Facebook for SIM is extremely easy to use and is available to everyone. No data contract or application download is needed, because the software is embedded in the SIM and it uses SMS technology. As a result, it works for prepaid as well as for pay-monthly customers. Following an initial limited free trial period, Facebook for SIM then operates on a subscription model via an unlimited pass for a given period of time.

“Facebook for SIM enables operators to leverage two of their main assets: the SMS to communicate with the web application and the SIM for application distribution to the masses,” added Philippe VallĂ©e, Executive Vice President, Gemalto. “Over 200 million people already use Facebook on handsets and those are twice as active as non-mobile users . By providing anytime, anywhere availability to the social network, Gemalto delivers on the growing demand for mobile connectivity all over the world.”

An article on the Register had more details:

The SIM-based client isn't as pretty as its smartphone contemporaries – don't expect picture streams or sliding interfaces – but it was developed with the help of Facebook, and provides text-menu-based interaction with Facebook – including status updates, pokes and friend requests – to any GSM-compatible handset through the magic of the GSM SIM Toolkit and Class 2 SMS messages.

The SIM Toolkit is part of the GSM standard and thus supported on just about every GSM handset, from the dumbest PAYG talker to the latest iGear. It allows the SIM to present menu options to the user, collect responses, and pop up alerts when new data arrives, which is all that's necessary for a basic Facebook client.

Modern handsets also allow the SIM to make TCP/IP data connections, but Gemalto is eschewing that for Class 2 SMS to ensure compatibility with the most basic handsets, and networks.

Class 2 SMS messages are delivered direct to the SIM without the user being involved, so can update friends' status messages and deliver a poke or two. The application running on the SIM then prods the handset into alerting the user.

That user's own updates are sent over SMS too, following a status change or wall posting client pastes that into an SMS, which is sent silently on its way.

How, or if, the network operator charges for all those messages flying about isn't clear. Gemalto won't name operators yet but claims to be talking to one operator who reckons that Facebook is eating half its bandwidth, and another who's already working on SIM distribution strategies.

Not that a new SIM is necessarily required – SIMs are field upgradable, though few operators deploy them with sufficient empty space for an application like this and issuing replacement SIMs is probably easier from a marketing point of view.

You can also find some of these details here.

As I have been working on SMS for the last few weeks, I decided to dig a bit deep into what these Class 2 SMS are.

Classes identify the message's importance as well as the location where it should be stored. There are 4 message classes.

Class 0: Indicates that this message is to be displayed on the MS immediately and a message delivery report is to be sent back to the SC. The message does not have to be saved in the MS or on the SIM card (unless selected to do so by the mobile user).

Class 1: Indicates that this message is to be stored in the MS memory or the SIM card (depending on memory availability).

Class 2: This message class is Phase 2 specific and carries SIM card data. The SIM card data must be successfully transferred prior to sending acknowledgement to the SC. An error message will be sent to the SC if this transmission is not possible.

Class 3: Indicates that this message will be forwarded from the receiving entity to an external device. The delivery acknowledgement will be sent to the SC regardless of whether or not the message was forwarded to the external device.

You can also read this for more details on SMS message contents