Transformers are a great concept for cartoons and movies, with robots hiding inside vehicles. What if OEMs could make the concept come to life?
One clever OEM has worked with Microsoft to hide, not a robot inside a truck, but a 3G WiFi router inside a magazine ad. The tiny router, which must be charged before first use, comes with a 15-day free pass on Tmobile's 3G network for those who subscribe to Microsoft Office 365.
According to an article on Mashable, a Microsoft rep confirmed that the ad is real, but was shipped to a limited number of Forbes subscribers who work in the IT and high-tech fields. Those readers being the people they are, it didn't take long for someone to rip the cover off the ad (much like in the video above), take a close look at the router, and discover that the router is based on a chipset designed and contracted for by MediaTek, a "fabless semiconductor company" in the communcations industry. The project raises any number of interesting possibilities and questions for OEM and manufacturing partners worldwide.
The first great possibility comes courtesy of the opportunities in radical pricing. Small cellular routers are typically sold in North America for between $50 and $100 with cellular provider lock-in. A small router inexpensive enough to include in even a very pricey ad campaign shows that manufacturing costs have come down -- and retail costs are almost certain to follow. Where can communications gear be placed if it is almost free? We're going to be learning about that in coming months, I'll wager.
Another possibility comes in the very compact package that slipped a wireless router into a thick magazine insert. Imagine one of the greeting cards now sold with digital voice recorders or simple tone generators -- only now, it has a wireless router that connects the recipient to a cloud service. It could make the annual corporate holiday card a much different experience, couldn't it?
A third possibility doesn't come through the manufacturing or sales of the devices, but in handling them after their wireless account ends. Recycling electronics to capture rare minerals is already a huge industry, and the spread of low-cost electronics in new packages is likely to make the industry even larger. Comments on other articles about the Microsoft ads indicate that consumers care about such issues: Those who manufacture and distribute these new devices will be required by the market to care, too.
Finally there are the possibilities in providing security for ads, greeting cards, and the like. We know that smartphones are vulnerable and it's not hard to imagine "junk mail" with wireless routers embedded as part of a spear-phishing attack. Companies will need to establish policies to deal with such possibilities, and the opportunities for verified, secure, throwaway routers (perhaps with throwaway firewalls and VPN terminators included) will be huge.
It's true that a real-world Optimus Prime would be incredibly cool. Until that happens, the day of the cheap, tiny, embedded wireless router has arrived -- and that's pretty cool, too.
@curtis haha! Micro web servers now! Would it not just be easier for us to have an upgradeable chip implanted at birth?
We could have it upgraded at each birthday with data relevant to our age. Possibly even do away with schooling and cut the government's deficit!,
I just heard a little blurb about the direction of these "embedded tech" advertisement. The last one that got attention was a Microsoft ad in Forbes. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57581882-71/microsoft-turns-forbes-magazines-into-wi-fi-hot-spots/
I know it's not great hardware but the techie in me wants to have these just to play with them.
I think they only did 1000 of the special magazines with the cellular phone embedded in the page and people were rushing out to find them in the markets that they know whey were released. I think they made their money on that advertisement because the press they go was incredible
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