My Treo 650 is a marvel of engineering. It's packed with amazing features and capabilities, including a digital camera, Bluetooth support, thousands of available downloadable software programs, QWERTY keyboard and much, much more. I just wish I could turn off that annoying blinking green light.

Mike Elgan, Contributor

February 13, 2006

2 Min Read

My Treo 650 is a marvel of engineering. It's packed with amazing features and capabilities, including a digital camera, Bluetooth support, thousands of available downloadable software programs, QWERTY keyboard and much, much more. I just wish I could turn off that annoying blinking green light.At night, after I turn off the light and hit the sack, it takes a few minutes for my eyes to adjust, then Green! Green! Green! I have no idea what the green light means or why it's important enough to keep me awake.

Handset manufacturers and carriers are constantly trying to sell us on all kinds of flashy, bells-and-whistles. MP3 capability. TV. Video. Bigger screens.

All this is great. Bring it on, etc. But I wish more attention would be paid on the basics, and make every-day, real-world use more pleasant.

Motorola, Carnegie Mellon University and others are working on some really great innovations that would eliminate some of the real annoyances and embarrassment currently caused by everyday cell phone use.

For example, Motorola is working on technology that keeps track of where you are, and auto-changes the phone's settings based on that information. When you're at church, or the movie theater, a cell phone that uses the Motorola technology might turns itself to vibrate. Another Motorola prototype gets constant feedback from a car you happen to be driving. If you're slamming on the breaks to avoid turning a furry animal into freeway pizza, for example, it won't interrupt you with a call.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers are working on a wristwatch sensor called an eWatch that feeds information to your cell phone. The watch can tell if you're in a dark room, typing or talking. It will configure the cell phone accordingly, not to interrupt you in these situations.

Other researchers are working on systems that enable the caller to choose whether to interrupt you. "Hi, this is Bill's phone. Bill is watching the movie "Firewall" right now. Would you like to ring his phone anyway?"

I'm not sure that approach is going to work. The polite people will never interrupt, and the rude ones (and the telemarketers) always will.

Still, I applaud this kind of innovation. They're tackling things people really want, rather than features that merely generate more revenue for the handset manufacturers and carriers.

I just wish they'd figure out how to shut off the blinking green light on my Treo!

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