Mobile phones engaged in developing solutions

24 October 2006

Amal Abdo (left), Mark Kwanten (centre) and Andy Dong test out their new mobile phone applications
Amal Abdo (left), Mark Kwanten (centre) and Andy Dong test out their new mobile phone applications

After reading about long queues at Palestinian-Israeli border crossings, and the frustrations and even deaths that can occur as people wait for medical care, a University of Sydney student decided to create mobile phone technology to solve the problem.

After entering your personal details, the reason for your visit and your time of travel into your phone Amal Abdo's program tells you which checkpoint to go to. It will even give you a unique code to use when you get there.

"The phone tracks your GPS location to know which checkpoint is closest to you," says Abdo, who created the work as part of a final year design project set by new media lecturer Andy Dong.

Her design gives "Israelis the security they want, but at the same time minimises disadvantage to the Palestinians," she says.

Another project, by Mark Kwanten, is designed to let San Salvadorian street kids compose collaborative rap songs.

"The application allows people to express their feelings through rap songs and see whatever other people are feeling," he says.

'Rapper Experience' lets users choose beats that can be recorded over with words and sent to a server, where it can either be listened to or added to by other users. Using the technology to create a kind of communal diary is a good fit for street kids in San Salvador, who often share one phone between three or four people, he says.

To create their mobile phone applications the students are combining a range of technologies - including Java, Flash Lite, Bluetooth, RFID (radio frequency identification) and GPS (global positioning system).

Student Leon Spencer has created a system of networked links that would allow messages to be sent without being monitored - a function he created with citizens of repressive states in mind.

Noelene Fajardo, originally from the Philippines, has developed a program that would allow Filipino fisherman to use SMS to create a huge database that would contain information about the best fishing spots, catching methods and fishing times.

Other projects range from a program for people looking for jobs such as letter writing and childcare in China, a phone technology that would allow Sherpas and trekking companies to communicate with eachother in Kathmandu, and mobile phone news systems for communities of elders in Cape York.

The students couldn't just invent their communities, says Andy Dong: "they had to go out and do their research."

Some of these works will be on display (and working) at an end-of-year design show on 16 and 17 November at the Wilkinson building.

What: Less Than Three: The 2006 Design Computing Festival

Where: Level 2, Wilkinson Building

When: 16 and 17 November (opening night, 6pm 16 November)

Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 02 9351 2261 or 0434 606 100

Email: 381e233f340f0d022b2f1b036841263d057f06293d620c27