AT&T Labs in San Francisco opened its doors Thursday to show off its Emerging Devices division, as well as some research projects around location-based services, social networking, and medical devices of the future.
The Vizit digital photo frame, seen here, is made by a small start-up from New England that few people have likely ever heard of: Isabella. But AT&T liked what it saw and partnered with the company to enable the wireless networking that allows photos to be sent from a computer or phone to this frame. They call it a two-way photo frame, and it's always connected to AT&T's cellular network, no contract with the carrier itself is required, similar to the Plastic Logic e-reader.
The frame has a touch-screen interface, and the photos that show up on it can be managed through vizitme.com, so anyone who knows the password can add photos to the frame. It will be available next year for $279.
This Garmin Nuvi 1690 is another device that operates on AT&T's network. The personal navigation device doesn't come with an AT&T contract, but uses the carrier's services to bring in information on hotels, restaurants, gas prices, movie times, and more.
AT&T's strategy is to get as many devices as possible connected to the Web, beyond just the smartphone. Besides GPS devices, the company has deals with Netbook and laptop makers, e-book readers, and digital photo frames.
AT&T is testing recommendation engines for television shows, movies, and music. Here, we see a map-like visual representation of musicians and bands, showing which bands are similar in genre and style to your preferred music, pointing you in the direction of new music you might like.
Rather than having to look at X-rays or other medical images on small mobile devices that doctors carry around with them now, AT&T is working on a device using a laser projector to blow up the images. Using a handheld projector that can hook up to an iPhone, as seen here, or in the future other mobile computers, the laser can make the image much bigger, and therefore easier to diagnose. It makes doctors able to diagnose remotely.
By connecting at-home medicine dispensing to their network, AT&T will facilitate the monitoring of health services by family and doctors. Not only can you control the dosages and when they are made available, but you will be able to monitor whether the proper dosage was taken.
Using these shoe inserts, AT&T is working with Texas Tech University on a geriatric health study. There are four sensors and an accelerometer hidden inside the insert that keep track of pressure on different parts of the foot when walking. The information from the sensors is sent out using wireless signals to a base station which organizes the data. Researchers can then try to predict when elderly patients are becoming more unsteady on their feet and help reduce patients' falls.
This gripping device also has sensors and an accelerometer inside that can wirelessly deliver information about patient strength, and about movements associated with diseases like Parkinson's. AT&T is working with Texas Tech University to advance how technology can aid geriatric medical treatment.
As real-time mobile services become more omnipresent, we will begin to see some businesses trying to reach customers within their nearby location.
AT&T phone users who are mobile will be offered deals and discounts from nearby AT&T business customers.
Currently researching ad hoc social networking over its network, AT&T is looking to connect people directly with others who have the specific information they need.
In downtown San Francisco and want to know how long the line is at Cafe Du Nord for tonight's show? AT&T will send your request, and connect you to chat directly and anonymously with someone on site who has made themselves available.
Another project currently being cooked up in AT&T's Labs, this is called Air Graffiti. AT&T's version of augmented reality, it allows users to virtually tag places with tips, Web links, sales information, personal notes, and more. When people then look at digital maps they can see the information for places tagged as they walk down the street.
The carrier is aiming to build the back end of this platform and sell it to companies that want to make their own location-based services.