SMS: One size fits all

Using SMS to buy public transport tickets is certainly innovative, and it has been adopted fairly rapidly. But, even that service falls short of the limits of imagination. Just when you thought you’d seen SMS being used in every conceivable way, you are once more surprised by newly devised uses for SMS.

Gemalto, a Dutch company specializing on digital security (e.g. they produce SIMs and smart cards), developed an application embedded to the SIM, which enables the user to access Facebook services even if the phone does not have a data plan, or is not capable of data connection at all. Now, many subscribers finally have a use for those 3000 free SMSes bundled with their subscriptions. This new application was announced in Mobile World Congress 2011.

In Sweden in the near future, it will be possible to pay for postage by sending an SMS instead of sticking a stamp on the envelope. An English version of this news can be found here.

Aside from the large scale uses of SMS, there is an endless list of hobby projects and ad hoc systems which take advantage of the SMS service. A few examples:

  • This project uses an old GSM phone as an improvised interface to an irrigation system which is activated when the phone receives an SMS. It is built using off-the-shelf components, so in principle this system can be used to activate any secondary system which is attached to the GSM phone.
  • Remote control of up to 8 devices using SMS.
  • Door lock with an SMS interface. The question is then, is there any guarantee on the timely delivery of the SMS that you just sent to unlock your door?

Do you know of any other creative use of this 700 $/MB medium?

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