History

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MobileU™ had its beginnings in 2003 with the introduction of ClassInHand™ software for the PocketPC, developed by the R&D staff in Information Systems.  This software, which the university made available for download for anyone, consisted of a surprisingly robust web server on the PocketPC and several built-in capabilities to enable faculty members to initiate and control  presentations, give impromptu quizzes, poll students, and receive real-time text feedback from students via the campus wireless network.  This was followed quickly by DataInHand™  software for data collection, including the capability to transfer collected to a PC for analysis.  Other applications created by the team included the following:

  • Enabling audience members at a production by the Alban Elved Dance Company to participate in the production through information they submitted on their PocketPCs during the production
  • Supporting biological research and data collection in the Galapagos islands
  • Location-based services using the campus wifi network and special software, prior to the availability of accessible GPS on mobile devices:
    • A virtual message board that let students leave message around campus, to be retrieved by other students when they reached that location
    • A virtual building directory available automatically on the mobile device when entering the building
  • A flashcard style study guide for use in Computer Science
  • DeaconAlerts, a campus alerts system using a Jabber server rather than text messaging, which was not yet popular among our students
  • Campus directories, maps, and other resources

It was only natural that as PocketPC Phones, the first “smart phones”, became available in 2004, these applications evolved into a full-blown MobileU™ application that included the above applications as well as the following:

  • LaundryView Lite, developed in conjunction with MacGray, to enable students to monitor the laundry facilities in their residence halls–and it was voice-enabled!
  • Capabilities for students to view class schedule and grades in real-time
  • A utility to download the student’s class schedule to the phone’s calendar, and subsequently silence the phone ringer during the student’s class times
  • Access to many campus and local resources well before general availability of internet resources for mobile devices
  • A voice-enabled shuttle-location application
  • And much more

With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, we were faced for the first time with a smart phone on a competing OS.  Over the next couple of years, additional operating systems emerged and features we had longed for, such as GPS and voice recognition, became commonplace.  Texting plans became the rule rather than the exception, followed later by the prevalence of data plans.  These and other improvements are paving the way for a new generation of MobileU™ applications designed to meet the information and collaboration needs of today’s college students.