Software developed by European researchers will allow users to create compelling new software gadgets by mashing up web and telephone services. The system is so simple that anyone can make new mini-apps. It is only limited by imagination.
User-generated content is now, officially, old hat. We are entering into the era of user-generated services that converge internet and telecom technologies – a sort of Telco 2.0.
It is all thanks to the OPUCE project, an EU-funded project, led by Telefonica I+D, to create a platform that allows users to create combined telecom and web services even more easily than is possible on the internet.
Users can create services that seamlessly mash together web and telecom functionality.
Mashups like this are a feature of the internet leading to a host of useful and compelling applications. And they are coming to a telecoms handset near you, very soon.
Mashups are small, software-driven services that combine data from two or more sources to create captivating new information. A classic example is the combination of Google maps and real estate data, to show you where to find new houses on the market.
In the OPUCE scenario, users – SMEs, regular surfers or any non-expert – will be able to quickly create a service that sends new real estate listings to their mobile phone or voicemail. Users can be instantly alerted to listings in an area that interests them, so there is no chance they miss a good opportunity, for example.
It is an attractive idea, but OPUCE will stand or fall solely on the value of the services the platform can create – in effect, the usefulness of the mashups.
Luckily then, the OPUCE platform can help users create a whole host of valuable, interesting or just plain bizarre services.
For example, users could create a mashup that captures an email and then reads it out to voicemail, so people can listen to it on the run. Or users could develop an ‘auto-conference’ service. Once all the participants are online, the conference begins automatically.
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Take Star Wars fans. They can create an alert that reaches them via instant messaging, which highlights new videos that appear on YouTube, say, every Sunday morning.
Other services can be automatically triggered by location, for example. If you are driving through a particular area, it can send you photographs from Flickr that relate to your location, or even send you restaurant listings in the vicinity at lunchtime.
There are fun services, too. When your favourite team scores a goal over your friend’s favourite team, an OPUCE-created service could initiate a call, making sure you get to gloat. The service could even be designed, by a non-expert, to tell you if your friend is nearby so you can gloat in person!
Nearby pharmacies, newspaper headline translations read to your voicemail, services that tell people where you are, or where they are, automatic keyword searches on RSS feeds that keep you up to date on topics that interest you … the list goes on and on.
“The only real limit to these applications is the imagination of the user,” explains Alberto Leon Martin, coordinator of OPUCE. “And history shows, on the internet at least, that users are very, very imaginative.”
The OPUCE project, led by Telefonica I+D, received funding from the ICT strand of the Sixth Framework Programme for research.
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