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Incorporation of The Localizer technology to help identify the source of a ringing mobile phone in a crowded environment has obvious advantages. In the UK there are around 25 million mobile phones in use, with approximately 450 million users globally at the end of 1999 and this is forecast to grow to over 1 billion users by the end of 2002. Annual sales of new and replacement phones in 1999 was approximately 250 million units and this is expected to be over 300 million in 2000.                         

Mobile Phones

All of us with mobile phones will be familiar with the problem of locating our phone when it rings.  It is common to observe many people searching for their phones, uncertain if it is their phone ringing or not! Typical places this can be seen are in an office meeting, or a train or an open plan office.  These days mobile phone handsets are so small and convenient that they are not easily seen or felt, and they can be hidden beneath papers, in pockets, briefcases or many other places. The problem comes when they ring – you have to find them!

Many people imagine that the problem is to do with the similarity between the ringing tones of the various handsets.  Much effort has been put by manufacturers into providing a wide choice of ringing tones for the user to choose, in an attempt to personalise their phones and make them more distinctive.  However, what this has not tackled is a fundamental problem - the difficulty of locating the direction of the ringing sound itself.

The solution
If a broadband sound (white noise) were to be used as part of the ringing tone, the human brain could quickly and easily locate the direction of the ringing tone, and hence find the phone.

Technical challenge
There is a considerable technical challenge to reproduce a broadband sound within the small dimensions of today's mobile phones. The bandwidth of human speech is fairly narrow, and good reproduction is possible with a narrow band transducer. Today's generation of audio transducers (loudspeakers) used in mobile phones is NOT capable of reproducing the broad frequency bands that a locatable sound would require. However, recent developments in speaker technology lead us to believe that this capability may now be possible.

The opportunity
We believe that the mobile phone manufacturer who includes "locatable ringing tones", by way of Localizer technology, into their phones first will have a unique selling feature with a real consumer benefit.  This market is one that responds well to innovation. We have seen the impact that vibrating ringers, miniaturisation, extended battery life and WAP technology have had - as well as good industrial design and fashion conscious packaging. The new third generation systems currently under construction give a new opportunity for innovation in handset design.


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