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Creating new innovative mobile services

Elisa's R&D activities are focused on generating new growth through the increasing convergence of e-services, mobile solutions, content, and IT services. Good examples of recent developments are projects devoted to mobile TV and care for the elderly. The former is designed to support innovative services over DVB-H; while the latter has developed a new service concept based around reporting medicine dispensers.
Elisa Corporation

One of Finland's leading tele­communications companies, Elisa offers its private and corporate customers a comprehensive range of services, and cooperates with Vodafone and Telenor internationally. Elisa's 3G customers, for example, were the first in the Nordic region to gain access to fixed-price, 1 MB connections (3G HSDPA). The company's mobile network covers over two million subscriptions, while in terms of broadband provision, Elisa is the market leader in Finland.

Following the spread of new service offerings, and cameras and radios, mobile TV is the only electronic media that has been missing from smart phones.

The company's R&D activities are focused on leveraging the increasing convergence of e-services, mobile solutions, content, and IT services in a wide range of areas.

Elisa has been an active participant in a national information society programme that finalised a national strategy in this area towards the end of 2006 aimed at pushing Finland's competitiveness ahead in a number of key areas.

TV on the move

Following the spread of MMS, GPRS, and 3G on the service side – and cameras and radios on the hardware side – the only electronic media that has been missing from smart phones up until now has been mobile TV.

Recognising this opportunity, Elisa has been one of the main forces behind the Finnish MobileTV Forum, coordinated by Forum Virium Helsinki, a cluster organisation devoted to developing novel digital content and services.

Elisa is working with a broad range of other players representing hardware, software, and service providers, as well as research institutions, broadcasters, and municipal authorities on the two-year Finnish Mobile TV (FiMTV) project.

This is a follow-on from a trial in spring 2005, which provided 500 pilot users with access to national TV channels and a selection of international channels, together with a small number of new dedicated mobile TV services.

Content is a real challenge

The pre-commercial FiMTV project was launched in November 2005 to promote the creation of a wider range of innovative, interactive content.

A number of new services have been tested during the first year of activities using a trial DVB-H network. The network went commercial as of the end of 2006, and will see the focus of efforts shifting to developing and testing interactive services leveraging the full duplex potential of 3G in support of the simplex capabilities of DVB-H broadcasting.

The immediacy and spontaneity offered by mobile TV will be one of its biggest advantages, many believe.

Looking ahead, content will be the biggest challenge facing mobile TV, as it needs to catalyse the interest of viewers, provide added value for both consumers and providers, and make the best use of the medium, rather than compete with regular broadcast TV. The immediacy and spontaneity offered by mobile TV will be one of its biggest advantages, many believe – whether in the form of videoblogs, events calendars, or live reporting.

Assistance for the elderly

Elisa has also been working with a group of partners – including Addoz, IBM, Medixine, and the City of Helsinki – to develop a new service concept primarily aimed at elderly people living at home or in sheltered accommodation to help ensure that they take their prescription medicines at the appropriate time and dosage level.

The concept behind the Medicine Logistics project, which ran through 2006, was based on the use of proactive dispensers and supporting server and portal software. Doctors, home care organisations, and pharmacies acted as the initial medical reference points, with pharmacies responsible for delivering sealed dispenser cassettes on a weekly basis to participants directly or their home care unit.

When participants took their medication, as prompted by their dispensers, the latter sent an SMS message to the system's server, detailing the relevant dosage and time. When people forgot to take their medication on time, dispensers registered the situation and sent a message to the server after an hour of inactivity. This was followed up with a phone call via an automatic caller to remind people. In cases where people did not respond to these reminders, home care personnel were alerted to check the situation.

Overall, the project demonstrated the viability of the concept very well. Feedback from participants indicated that they found the concept helpful and that they appreciated the assistance it provided. The delivery system also proved a success.

In the case of sheltered accommodation, residents and care workers liked the freedom from time-consuming routines it gave. By freeing up the resources of care personnel in this area, the hope is that more attention can be given to rehabilitative and other more productive aspects of care.

> Aimo Maanavilja
(Published in High Technology Finland )