SCIENCE TRIBUNE Thursday, January 31, 2002, Chandigarh, India

MMS: the next mobile frontier
H.S. Jatana
OLLOWING the success of SMS, the vendor community is putting its bets on multimedia messaging as the killer app for 2.5G and 3G. With the start of the world’s first MMS service, the industry will have a chance to see if users are as enthusiastic as the vendors.

Mobile phone deactivator
Deepak Bagai
HE days to come are likely to be good for mobile phone users if one goes by investor’s reaction to the progress on telecom policy implementation. The luxury status of a cell phone owner has given way to its usage as a necessity. 

Versatile pozzolana
R.S. Kanwar
OZZOLANA is a silicious material of such a versatile nature that when this is added to lime, in the presence of water, this acquires cementing properties. When added to concrete this acts as a replacer of some percentage of cement (OPC) and sand and when mixed in clay for moulding of bricks this substitutes clay to the extent of 30 to 35%.



  • Viagra for Tigers

  • Clear vision for high speed cameras

  • Blue laser is coming

Science & Technology crossword



MMS: the next mobile frontier
H.S. Jatana

FOLLOWING the success of SMS, the vendor community is putting its bets on multimedia messaging as the killer app for 2.5G and 3G. With the start of the world’s first MMS service, the industry will have a chance to see if users are as enthusiastic as the vendors.

What do you get when you combine the success of text messaging, the speed of 2.5G cellular and the sexiness of image, sound and video? The answer, if European vendors are to be believed, is multimedia messaging service (MMS).

Right now many are punting on MMS as a followup hit to the runaway popularity of SMS to revive the fortunes of battered European and Asian cellular. But while the technology path to MMS has been mostly cleared, take-up by all but the most enthusiastic early adopters could be stymied by the complexity of the still-maturing standard.

It is no wonder the industry is keenly eyeing the world’s first commercial MMS deployment, launched by Norway’s Telenor on December 1, 2001.

Vendors are in the vanguard of promoting MMS, with a group declaring their support for MMS standardisation. The main vendors at this stage are Ericsson, which has 50 trials worldwide, Nokia and messaging specialist CMG of Netherlands. Logica, Alcatel, Unisys, Sema, ADC are all involved in MMS platform development.

Yet despite the enthusiasm for MMS, the intermediate standard enhancement messaging (EMS) is not yet upon us. The difference? EMS perhaps is the 2.5G of messaging. While SMS is plain text, EMS is text with formatting — such as bold and underlining, as well as small audio files — and MMS is rich media, offering the full range of voice, image, video and sound.

The transition to MMS is the jump from radio to TV. Using a more recent analogy, the transition from text (SMS) to full multimedia (MMS) is as important for mobile messaging as the transition from DOS to windows was in the PC world.

The commercial appeal is understandable. MMS is the "multimedia evolution of SMS," building on the proven business models of SMS, which today accounts for 10-20% of some of the leading mobile operators revenues. Today’s youth, grown up on video games and the internet has adopted SMS as an icon and is expected to embrace MMS as well. Content will rapidly grow because the whole world will generate content. There are users willing to pay few bucks to see their football team’s winning goal.

CMS’s own survey shows that in the 14-25 age group, 70% would be interested in a digital MMS postcard and 35% would be prepared to buy a phone for MMS. The biggest factor going for the MMS business is its support from industry leaders, including the biggest handset manufacturer Nokia and the leading GSM infrastructure company, Ericsson.

Nokia has just announced its first MMS product, the 7650 camera phone, due to hit the market in mid 2002. Nokia boss Ollila says that by the end of 2002 more than half of all Nokia terminals will be MMS capable, and in 2003, "MMS will be an integral feature in all Nokia phones."

But MMS faces a number of problems deeply familiar to the mobile data industry. The first problem is interoperability. The standard is being developed and some aspects are still to be finalised. This recalls the WAP implementation problem seen in 2000, where the variations in implementation caused interoperability issues, resulting in long delays in calling up screens and frequent "hung" phones.

Ericsson, which has produced the first MMS phone, the T68, cites interoperability testing issues as delaying its market arrival, now set for late Q1, 2002. Technically, MMS is a standard set by 3 GPP. Although it is not yet commercial, it is already upto version 4.0. Version 5.0 seen as the most complete standard will be finalised in this year. Despite this, deployment will go ahead — no one has time to wait for the standard to catch up. It will be a while before phone owners will get excited about the MMS concept. Users will see a multimedia message arrive on a terminal embedded in a message and will click on the message to see the image or hear the audio file. The only problem is that for a long time, only a tiny number of mobile owners will have MMS handsets. Most will receive a message instead directing them to a website. This could well spark a minor boost in traffic volume for operators’ web portals, but won’t do much to enthuse users, it will be mere multimedia messaging rather than mobile multimedia messaging.

Thomas Hasselman, Head of product marketing at Nokia Mobile Software believes that the main benefit of MMS will be its ease of use and familiarity. There isn’t a learning curve.

But Simon Buckingham, CEO of Mobile Streams, believes that for users MMS will be very different experience. SMS is ready to go on the phone when you buy it. You don’t need to do anything but start tapping messages and go. But MMS must be configured to the operators settings.

Worse, MMS doesn’t yet have a single over-the-air (OTA) standard, so users will have to go into their operators store and have their phones configured manually.

Ready to go?

Also, it involves a massive amount of technological complexity; for example, it MMS must deal with 19 different media formats — jpeg, mpeg, windows media player, real player, wav, and so on.

Whereas SMS is very simple, MMS is very difficult.

EMS by comparison, is ready to go. EMS handsets from Siemens, Motorola, and Ericson are already shipping. A brace of others will hit the shelves in the next six months. From the user point of view, EMS is just as simple as SMS. From the operator perspective, the attraction is that it requires no infrastructure upgrade — the capability is provided by the handset.

The downside is it does need to support multiple formats — BREW, I-mode, WAP, EMS, Nokia Smart Messaging, and Magic4. Smart messaging at this stage looks to become a de facto standard.

Additionally, because EMS comprises a series of concatenated messages it is not so straightforward to bill — at least not for operators billing on a per message basis. Technical and standards issues aside, MMS’s biggest challenge will be dealing with the very different business models and usage patterns.

Today, the vast majority of all messaging — about 90% is person-to-person. That will hardly be the case in the early days of MMS. But Nokia, for example has struck a content library deal with Lycos Europe. Nokia’s Hasselman stresses the importance of access to cartoons, images news and other content. "Instead of saying ‘Sorry I’m late’, send a picture of a clock," he suggests.

Nonetheless, CMG even thinks MMS can solve the slowdown in messaging traffic seen in mature SMS markets, where usage patters plateaus at around 50-60%. MMS opens up potentially new user groups, says CMG — subscribers who might not key in a text message "but would consider recording a voice memo, for example, easier than composing an SMS message."

Eight steps to MMS

MMS could be cellular’s next big thing — but the conditions must be right. To get there the industry must scale the following milestones:

1. GPRS networks rollout (2000-2001)

2. GRPS, MSS tariffs structure clarified (2002)

3. First Generation MMSC trials (2001-2002)

4. Business partners program (2001)

5. Initial terminals (2001-2002)

6. GPRS roaming for inter-network messaging (2002)

7. Terminals and service for prepaid (2002-2003)

8. Range of interoperability terminals (2002-2003)



Mobile phone deactivator
Deepak Bagai

THE days to come are likely to be good for mobile phone users if one goes by investor’s reaction to the progress on telecom policy implementation. The luxury status of a cell phone owner has given way to its usage as a necessity. Over sage of mobile phones at particular places makes the life of other people really miserable. To overcome this drawback a device call "Mobile Phone Deactivator" has emerged. The installation of this device makes the cell phone non-functional in that area.

Cell phone deactivator generates strong interfering signals in the downlink band. C/I (Carrier to Interference) ratio worse than 5dB is generated which disables the set from receiving the actual BTS signal. The Deactivator makes the cell non-functional and is cut off from the base station. Both the send and the receive mode are blocked. The power rating of the device is dependent on the area to be covered. The antenna is made to face the direction where the coverage is required.

Mobile phone deactivator finds use in conference halls, hospitals, temples, libraries, parliament and Assembly house, research labs, army installations, lecture and examination halls, cinema and drama theatres, and so on. The data sheets specify that such a deactivator has already been installed in both the houses of Parliament. The day is not far that this device shall become an integral part of all the sensitive installations.



Versatile pozzolana
R.S. Kanwar

POZZOLANA is a silicious material of such a versatile nature that when this is added to lime, in the presence of water, this acquires cementing properties. When added to concrete this acts as a replacer of some percentage of cement (OPC) and sand and when mixed in clay for moulding of bricks this substitutes clay to the extent of 30 to 35%.

Some of the pozzolanas are:- 1. Naturally occurring clays and shales. 2. Volcanic tuffs and pumicites. 3. Artificial ground blast furnace slag. 4. Flyash. 5. Surkhi.

The use of flyash as pozzolana has since been established in a number of countries abroad but it has come in vogue in India only recently with the advent of industrialisation generating large quantities of industrial waste like flyash/coal ash, etc. as previously Surkhi or burnt clay were used as Pozzolana.

Flyash is finally divided residue resulting from the combustion of ground or powdered bituminous coal or lignite and transported by the flue gases of boilers fired by pulverised coal or lignite. It is available as a waste product from a number of thermal power stations and industrial plants and collected by mechanical or electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) from the flue gases. The flyash (Pozzolana) obtained from ESP is quite fine having a specific surface area of about 3200-5000 cm2/gram (termed as Blaine’s Fineness). It is finer than portland cement. This pozzolana consists of spherical form of particles some of which may be like glass and hollow and some irregular shaped of un-burnt fuel or carbon. It may vary in colour from light to dark grey or even brown. Its principal constituents are normally silica oxide (about 35-60%) alumina oxide (about 15-30%) and iron oxide (about 4-20%) and also small quantities of magnesium oxide, calcium oxides etc.

The flyash is used as pozzolana material in two ways:

1. As a substitute to a part of Portland cement.

2. As an additive to the other ingredients.

The flyash as Pozzolana is regarded as a substitute for a portion of portland cement ingredient because of its lime reactivity as well as low specific gravity which is 2.03 to 2.6 as compared to portland cement which is about 3.1. In France about 20% addition is permitted in Portland Cement whereas in India (as per IS-1489) an addition of about 25% of flyash by weight has been allowed in Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC). This PCC is manufactured therefore, either by intergrinding Portland Cement Clinker &flyash with addition of gypsum or by blending Portland Cement &Flyash.

The flyash mixed as an additive with Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) and water in concrete batching plant produces a concrete mixture which improves properties of cement such as its workability, cohesiveness, impermeability, resistance to aggressive waters and also assists in the reduction of heat of hydration. The comprehensive strength also comes at par with that of concrete made using Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC), after 28 days and exceeding after three months.

Though major use of pozzolana (flyash) mixed concrete had been in dam construction, partly on economic considerations partly on account of its influence on workability and permeability it could well be used extensively in construction of various building structures, provided proper mix design is got evolved from a reputed laboratory.

Flyash is also mixed with binder and is spread, compacted and cured to provide structural designed engg. characteristics for construction of embankments, roads, pavements etc.

Flyash (Pozzolana) may also be used for bringing out flyash bricks identical to conventional clay fired bricks in dimension and physical characteristics. The product is made by mixing flyash with water and lime, pressing and compacting the mixture in a mould or press and curing. The bricks thus manufactured may be used for all wall construction in residential, commercial and industrial areas. These bricks may also be used for pavements, roads’ base, berms and parking structures.

The other use is manufacturing of clay flyash bricks where approximately 25-30% of flyash is mixed with clay and the mixture is moulded by hands or by mechanical means. The product is put to kiln for uniform burning as conventional bricks. After proper curing these pozzolana mix bricks are as suitable for masonry construction as common burnt clay bricks.

From the foregoing, it could well be derived that the material pozzolana has got large scale applications in various materials as well as construction activities and flyash has been found to be a very good Pozzolana with astounding properties. This is because there are present principal and most important constituents of binding such as Silica, Alumina and Iron oxide with varying amount of carbon. This eco-friendly material Pozzolana (flyash) should, therefore, be considered as a national wealth and an economiser and utilised to the maximum possible extent instead of getting it dumped into ponds as a waste material.





Senator John Glenn is not the only civilian who would enjoy rocketing into space, but chances are the rest of us won’t be hitching a ride on a space shuttle anytime soon. We’ll have to wait until private companies can take us there.

Jeff Greason of Mojave, Calif., has done his part by creating the first low-cost, reusable rocket engines. Greason’s EZ-Rocket prototype, which took flight this fall, is powered by twin engines that burn isopropyl alcohol and liquid oxygen to generate 400 lbs. of thrust.

Greason’s engines should be able to carry passengers 65 miles above the earth--too low to go into orbit but high enough to give space tourists a spectacular view of the planet.

Greason estimates that planes powered by his engines could someday cost as little as $900 per flight to operate. The planes would cost as much as a Lear jet ($10 million), but Greason figures that’s a bargain considering that Lear jets can’t fly high enough and the cheapest boosters start at $100 million.

Viagra for Tigers

Got a big cat who would not go on the prowl? China has a solution: Try the little blue pill.

The 48 South China Tigers in Chinese zoos have produced only one cub among them this year, so experts are ready to give the disinterested males Viagra, AP reports.

Two uncooperative males in Chongging Zoo in western China will be the first, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The annual meeting of the South China Tiger Protection Society, held in Chongging in Southwestern China, found that six years of protection work has not helped reduce the breed’s danger of extinction, xinhua said.

The 49 rare tigers are kept in 10 zoos across the country, causing inbreeding and mating difficulties. Years of captivity have wiped outboth their wild nature and their sexual desire, according to experts quoted by the newspaper Beijing Daily.

A spot test performed in 1997 showed that among eight randomly chosen male South China Tigers, most had low sperm counts and two had no sperm at all, according to Xie Youxin, deputy head of Chongging Zoo.

International organisations have listed the breed is listed among the most endangered subspecies of tigers by international organisations and there are only 20 to 30 wild South China Tiger in China. PTI

Clear vision for high speed cameras

Researchers have developed a highly dynamic camera that makes it possible to take good pictures using amateur photographic equipment in highly contrasting light conditions.

Photographs who work with modern digital cameras are well aware that pictures taken in strong backlight tend to take on a milky haze and it is impossible to take good pictures using amateur equipment.

The cameras used to monitor industrial manufacturing process, on the other hand, are expected to deal with such extreme dynamics, and, if possible, even automatically recognise patterns and objects. PTI

Blue laser is coming

With scientists working towards the development of a blue laser, which has a wide variety of potential applications including storage of far more data than at present on a CD or DVD, it will not be long before a single DVD can store an entire epic movie lasting several hours.

By comparison with conventional red diode laser, the blue variety offers a distinctive advantage. It emits light at shorter wavelengths. The light can thus be more tightly focused, allowing the tracks of data to be written more closely together.

For many years, attempts to make blue lasers were held back by the difficulty of finding suitable materials. The more usual semiconductor materials used for optoelectronic devices such as gallium arsenide or gallium phosphide, only produced infrared or red light.

"Short-wavelength LEDs and laser diodes require expertise in other semiconductor materials, such as the group III-Nitride materials family, of which gallium nitride is the most well-known representative," explains Professor Joachim Wagner of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF. PTI



Science & Technology crossword


2. An oil mixed in soft drinks but harmful.

4. Leather cap on billiard cue.

6. Wedge used in printing or gunnery.

9. Used to denote canal or road lengths.

11. A member of institution of engineers.

12. Under surface of a lintel or arch.

15. A council for rehabilitation training.

17. Road research institute (abbr.)

18. Indian Road Congress (abbr.)

19. Ratio of height of a sample to the distance of penetration of sampler.

24. A movable joint.

25. Grass edging of a flower bed or a road.

26. Abbr. for plinth area of a building.


1. A type of well.

2. Thicker end of a tool or weapon.

3. Wedge shaped masonry unit forming an arch.

4. A pipe used in bored pile construction.

5. These promote development activities in villages and tehsils (abbr.)

7. A well known construction company of Government of India.

8. Neutral Axis.

10. A framework over oil well.

11. A process of joining two timber pieces at an angle.

13. Tells the quality of sand.

14. Used to counter wind force.

16. Grow along a wall or ground.

20. Used to drill oil wells.

21. A type of Iron.

22. Abbr. for a Fortran formula.

23. Test plastics against these rays.

Solution to last week’s crossword: