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Why not imagine it in a way that works?
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I recently had occasion to misplace my cell phone about the house. Of course, had it been on, it would have been a simple matter to call it, but alas I turned it off.
So, my concept requires some kind of sensor which can detect whether the phone has been moved (or at least has changed orientation).
It needs to do this passively (without consuming valuable battery). It also needs a simple alarm clock circuit that can periodically turn it on, without drawing an enormous amount of battery power.
In the "off" state, the phone periodically wakes up, lets say every 4-5 hours. When it does, it checks the sensor. If it detects that it has moved, it goes back to sleep. If it has not moved, it turns on and checks for a special form of text message. If it receives this message, it turns itself on and sends a text message which will end up in your email telling you that the phone is now on. At that point, you can call it from your landline and find the phone. If the battery is low, the phone should send the text message and, if not moved with 10 minutes, go to sleep for one hour and repeat until the unit is either moved or the battery runs out. Perhaps it would be good if the wait time were increased with each attempt, in case you were not near your email.
The use case I envision is where you know approximately where the phone is, such as in your home. It would not be effective where the phone has been lost or stolen and it might be in a much larger area.
(???) GPS phone
Lost phone...this site has it already! [lparker3470, Aug 31 2009]
Microsoft's My Phone
[phoenix, Apr 21 2010]
||I was thinking about the ability of a phone to know its GPS coordinates. I wonder if the phone could pass these directly to a linked computer via an interface. I am thinking of an autonomous robot of the Lego Mindstorm variety which uses changing GPS coordinates obtained via phone to home in on a destination.
||A race between such robots would be a fun high school nerd contest, especially if carried out in nonuniform terrain like a field or a city.
||[bungston]: Yep. There are *loads* of GPS enabled apps on the iPhone (and by induction, other smartphones). You can export the GPS coordinates of the phone through an API.
||Microsoft has a free service for WM phones that not only allows you to sync your data to its server, but will capture the GPS coordinates of the phone when it does so. You can also ring, lock and erase your phone remotely.