Category Archives: Gadgets

ThurayaAssist and ThurayaRelay – Two new services for Thuraya users.

More positive developments for field folks.  From the Thuraya partner (Geonix) site:

ThurayaRelay™ combines updated positioning services and the ThurayaLocate™ dynamics with a stream of new and useful features.

  • Supports two levels of alerts: basic position reports and emergency SOS requests for immediate assistance

  • Automatically relays SOS messages to multiple user defined e-mail addresses and mobile phones

  • Facilitates free-format text messages from user to centre to aid identification of assistance required

  • Provides detailed travel advice and risk assessment for every country worldwide

  • Provides timely incident reporting on inclement weather, terrorist or other threats as they occur

For more information, download the FAQs by clicking here.


ThurayaAssist™ provides you with access to a spectrum of services when you’re on the go both on the road and off the beaten track. With full global 24*7 voice assistance in emergency or for prior briefing, ThurayaAssist™ is the ultimate in personalised travel SOS services

In the event of an emergency or when faced by threats, you can call on a specialist security advisor who will advise, assist and co-ordinate effective response through to appropriate external services such as police, fire, ambulance, coastguard, embassies as well as relaying to friends, family and employers. All the time the security specialist knows exactly where you are from the emergency SOS report on his screen

The ThurayaAssist™ emergency response services are provided by the UK based global security specialists red24. Additional personalised corporate emergency and repatriation services are also available.  For more information, download the FAQs by clicking here.

Via Zawya


Wind power in the field

I apologize for the sporadic nature of my posts these last few weeks.  It’s just that I recently became immersed in all things green because of my new gig and my mind is churning away on all the possibilities.  It is actually a welcome change from the IT world which seems to be offering woefully little to the humanitarian aid community these days and I have long suspected that green energy will play an increasingly important role in the work we do.  From emergency teams bringing along their own juice, to every clinic we build being made semi-self-sufficient with solar panels and wind, there are changes afoot and I am now beginning to understand what will work and what won’t.

Sure, we’ve been using solar for a while in many locations but I am not sure if folks are aware that pound-for-pound wind energy is much more efficient and while it may not work in the mountains of Liberia teams in many coastal and desert locations could benefit substantially from a durable wind turbine hooked up to an array of batteries.  Eastern Chad would be a particularly suitable spot for a small wind turbine.  The unit above, Southwest Windpower‘s Air Breeze, is a $600 highly portable unit that puts out 200W. To put that in perspective my Macbook eats 60W.  The low cost and the compact shipping size (27 x 12.5 x 9 in (686 x 318 x 229 mm) 17 lb (7.7 kg)) make this an ideal solution for teams when they are first deploying to the field.  For those of you wondering about the pole (which is the Achille’s heal of the VSAT community) there are plenty of collapsible, highly portable options.  Two of the units above could put out enough juice to power a small office running laptops, BGAN, phone chargers, etc.

I would be very interested in hearing if folks have deployed a wind turbine in the field and, if so, how it performed.  Please post a comment.

‘Nokia’s Flagship: The N-97 Smartphone’

I was actually up when this thing launched but the whole event was so uneventful I fell asleep before I got to the end of the keynote speech.  It doesn’t much matter as I always wait for Sam Churchill over at Dailywireless to post his incredibly comprehensive write-ups so that I can cross post.  Sam has more wireless knowledge in his little pinky than I could ever have.  He’s got the glossy pic and a YouTube video to boot:

Read on…

‘GPS receiver in every SIM card’

This could be a game changer.  A German company has developed a SIM card with an integrated A-GPS receiver.  Navigadget has the story:

German smartcard maker Sagem Orga just announced a partnership with BlueSky Positioning to integrate A-GPS receiver on regular SIM cards.

The proprietary new approach incorporates a highly accurate GPS receiver and an antenna into the SIM card, enabling network providers to deploy both legally-mandated and commercial applications for all mobile phones, with no need for software or hardware changes. To make positioning even more accurate and user friendly, the A-GPS SIM uses assisted GPS data.

Read on…

‘Verizon’s Blackberry Storm’

Sam Churchill over at Dailywireless has a nice write-up on the new Blackberry Storm where he pulls quotes from an AppleInsider review:

  • Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg – “Overall, the Storm is a very capable handheld computer that will appeal to BlackBerry users who have been pining for a touch-controlled device with a larger screen.”
  • Wired’s Daniel Dumas – “If you’re locked into a contract with Verizon, want a touchscreen phone, and are willing to put up with an OS that moves like a tranquilized yak, then yes the Storm is for you. Otherwise, your best bet is an iPhone or the very capable BlackBerry Bold.”
  • PC World’s Yardena Arar – “But people who were hoping for a credible iPhone alternative fortified with BlackBerry’s strengths as a mobile tool for corporate travelers will likely find the Storm a disappointment. When it comes to touch interfaces, Apple still has no peer.”

Read on…

Sleepbreeze – Portable personal cooling system

Humanitarian Tecnology Network has a write-up on an interesting looking gizmo that provides personal cooling in a small, protable unit.  The Sleepbreeze is currently offered exclusively through the company’s website and retails for about $78.

Read on…

‘Sierra Leone: Collecting Health Data In Areas With No Power Supply’

Statistics by the illiterate: The local traditional birth attendant registers births, children who die immediately after birth, stillbirths and the illness or death of the mother by placing small stones in a box. (Credit: Jørn Braa)

Jeff Allen is in Sierra Leone helping to set up a health information system in Freetown.  He wrote to tell me about the ‘hi tech’ solution they came across for collecting health data.  The traditional birth attendant places a small stone in a hole directly in front of the image of either a healthy child, stillborn, etc.  While I agree with Jeff’s scorn for mobile phone based tracking systems in favor of this more simplistic tool it does beg the question: How hard would it be to build those 5 icons in to a sleek mobile interface?

Jeff is posting semi-regularly over at jra’s thoughts.  Be sure to follow him for at least the next two weeks until he gets back to Switzerland.  The story I mention above was picked up by Science Daily and a few other media outlets.

Read on…