windows phone, mango, wp7

9 Ways To Reuse Your Old Windows Phone 7 Now That You’ve Got Windows Phone 8

With the recent launch of the iPhone 6, there have been several articles on how you can continue to use your old iPhone if/when you upgrade,  including this one from Business Insider.

So why am I referencing an article about how you can reuse your  old iPhone, when the title of this post is how you can reuse your old Windows Phone 7? Because all of them apply to Windows Phone 7 and there are plenty of apps that still support WP7. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Extra (local/on-prem) storage (the Samsung Focus has 8GB)
  2. Music player –  TuneIn Radio 
  3. Fitness/sports tracker – Endomondo
  4. Entertain kids  – Mou + other kid-friendly games for WP7
  5. Ultimate travel camera – although there are no lense hardware accessories that I’m aware of, there are plenty of tripods . In any case you can use it as a spare camera, if not the “ultimate”.
  6. Baby Monitor (note: you can’t use the phone as the camera/mic – that has to be a Windows 7 or Vista PC)
  7. Security Camera – Gotya
  8. Party stereo – connect it to wired (via the 3.5mm audio/headphone jack) or bluetooth speakers
  9. Watch Netflix

There are still 8-10 million WP7 devices in active use. Assuming that half that number have already been retired,  that makes a grand total of  12-15  million WP7 devices that can still be put to good use even when all current active users move on (WP7 devices are not upgradeable to WP8). And with Microsoft ending support for WP7 on October 14th, the retirement rate might accelerate, making these use cases all the more real.  Please sound off below if you have other ideas. Happy reusing!


Why 186M Symbian smartphones make perfect low cost photo surveillance cameras

One of the main reasons we developed Gotya was to enable people all around the world, even where Internet access is expensive and/or slow,  to use their old unused smartphones as low-cost and low-bandwidth security/surveillance cameras.

In a region such as North America with high disposable income and affordable and ubiquitous high-speed Internet access, video surveillance apps with their expensive video cameras and constant high bandwidth upstream usage (typically on a user’s home WiFi) are popular because people can afford it there. This is not necessarily the case in emerging markets such as BRIIC (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China) and it’s for those markets that Gotya was designed for. These markets were always strong Symbian markets, until Symbian was “Osborned” (had it’s end of life announced in advance)  in February 2011, when Nokia announced their intention to switch to Windows Phone. Nokia shipped the last Symbian device (the 808 Purview)  in mid-2012.

When we started developing Gotya in early 2013, we knew there were “lots” of Symbian devices that could be used as Gotya cameras – both still in active use and “retired” (no longer used).  Let’s take a look at exactly how many “lots” is.

First of all, Gotya runs on Symbian touch devices – S60 5.0 (aka S50 5th Edition) and Symbian^3 to be precise. The first of these devices was the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic device released in Q4 2008.

So if we take a look at Symbian shipments from 2009-2012 (starting with the first full quarter when Symbian touch devices were available and ending when Symbian device shipments were trending toward zero (2M in Q412, down from 18M in Q411 and 31M in Q410), according to Canalys Symbian device shipments are as follows:

2009 – 81M

2010 – 112M

2011 – 80M

2012 – 23M

By Q412, Nokia Lumia Windows Phone sales had surpassed Symbian (4M vs 2M) and Symbian sales were effectively trending toward zero / rounding error. (In Q113, Symbian sales fell to 0.5M).

We also know from Canalys that in 2009, 27% of Symbian sales were touch. Assuming that in 2010 that had increased to 60%,  by 2011 80% and by 2012 100%, this means that the total number of Symbian touch devices sold by Nokia between 2009 and 2012 is 22M + 67M + 64M +23M = 186 million Symbian touch devices.

Even the oldest of the Symbian touch devices (the 5-year old 5800) has a 3MP camera that can capture 1 VGA picture per second, perfectly useful as a motion detection and photo surveillance camera. The best selling Symbian^3 device, the N8 released in Q410 (over 3 years old now), has an 8MP camera and much faster processor than the 5800 and can capture 2-3 VGA pictures per second.

If  you’re one of those 186M Symbian touch device owners  and you’ve got your device sitting in a drawer gathering dust, Gotya is a great way to extend the useful life of those devices by turning them into low cost photo surveillance, motion detection, and security cameras. You can download Gotya and Gotya Cloud for Symbian touch devices from the Nokia Store. Gotya cameras running on Symbian touch devices can be remote controlled from the Web and from the Gotya for Windows Phone app.

Smartphones as Surveillance Cameras

The main selling point of Gotya is that it is an app and cloud service that turns your smartphone into a security or surveillance camera.

Recently a friend suggested that the Gotya app needs a product line expansion in the form of a compact, low cost camera with night vision. E.g. $29

This could expand the addressable market to include those users with only one smartphone to use as a remote controller for the “Gotya Cam”.

The Gotya mission remains simple: security and surveillance for the masses via smartphone cameras.

-Bring Your Own Surveillance

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

What Price Surveillance?

Disclaimer: This post isn’t about government surveillance and all that entails. It’s about private/personal/consumer surveillance products and services.

Consumers have never had more choice when it comes to home monitoring and surveillance solutions. For years there have been the usual alarm companies with 24/7 monitoring with video cameras and motion detectors. Companies like ADT and Bay Alarm. These require professional installation, proprietary hardware, up front hardware costs, and long-term (typicaly 3 year) monthly service/monitoring contracts. We’re talking hundreds of dollars up front and $30-$40/month for three years commitment. And of course these are fixed (stationary/non-mobile) solutions that monitor a pre-determined fixed location (your hoouse).

Next we had the advent of smartphone-based monitoring solutions so that consumers could break free from the alarm panel and monitor cameras at their house or property and get alerts via a smartphone app like ADT Pulse or AT&T Digital Life. But still, these are costly (while being feature rich) solutions and have long-term contracts attached.

Now we’re seeing “Over the Top” (OTT) video surveillance, motion detection, carbon monoxide, and temperature sensing solutions like Dropcam and Canary. These are self-monitoring solutions and 100% smartphone based. No alarm panels to deal with. However, they are still expensive (Dropcam starts at $149, Foscam at $79, HomeMonitor at $179) requiring dedicated cameras, and are fixed solutions. What do I mean by fixed? I mean they’re stationary and are difficult or cumbersome to move to another location and are not at all suited for “ad hoc” or temporary surveillance use cases where you might want to watch a particular location for just an hour or two, pick up, and move on. They also require WiFi, and don’t work over mobile data networks like 3G/4G so for remote locations with no broadband connectivity, won’t work at all.

Now, having said all of that, these are great solutions for a particular range of use cases and budgets. Some have have 720p video, night vision, wide angle lens, digital zoom, 2-way audio, so they do pack some pretty cool features.

So the price points have come down and the flexibility/autonomy of the consumer to set up and monitor their own independent surveillance system has increased massively. That’s all good.

But there’s still something that until recently has been missing. There are millions of smartphone cameras out there that now have high quality cameras on them and operating systems and hardware sophisticated enough to run high-performance motion detection apps. And the best part is, they’re always with their owner. This has opened up a new opportunity that we like to call “casual surveillance”.

Casual surveillance is surveillance that isn’t necessarily mission-critical, but rather is a super low cost way to leverage hardware (smartphones) that you already have to deliver a motion detection and photo surveillance solution for both fixed or on-the-go mobile locations. A great example is if you’re visiting a shared workspace and have to leave your backpack in a place that could put it at risk of theft. Using a self-made “stand” out of a coffee cup or making a hidden camera inside a small cardboard box (like a cellphone box or tissue box) , you can monitor that backpack for a short period of time, then take it down when you leave. All motion (including the smartphone itself being used as the motion detection camera) is immediately detected, pictures captured, in some cases auto-uploaded to the cloud, and the user alerted immediately so that they can stop the theft or at least, capture pictures of the thief.

There are several motion detection camera apps out there now that are filling out the spectrum of surveillance solutions for consumers at the low (casual) end of the price/feature spectrum. Go and check them out at your app store of choice. You’d be surprised at what you can do with your smartphone these days, whether it’s the one you use on a daily basis, or an old one that’s sitting in a drawer somewhere. And this type of casual surveillance solution costs next to nothing compared with the previously mentioned solutions.

Happy surveying.