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Exploring M-commerce

{Andrew Hickey (L) and Myron Hedderson (R)}
Last semester Andrew Hickey (L) and Myron Hedderson (R) worked with business professor Dr. Jim Wyse (centre) to develop business plans for his new Internet radar technology.

When Andrew Hickey and Myron Hedderson graduated with their bachelor of commerce (co-op) degrees, they took a number of practical experiences with them. As part of the Current Topics in Information Systems course, taught this past semester by Dr. Jim Wyse, both students learned about an emerging high-tech area and were able to contribute to some exciting new research.

Dr. Wyse's research interests lie in an area called location-based, Web-connected, mobile commerce or m-commerce. M-commerce is a new area of e-commerce where Web-based location-aware technologies support commercial transactions. Using a handheld computer like a Palm Pilot, a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, and a data management system designed by Dr. Wyse, users are able to search for a particular business operation or community service based on criteria including proximity. For example, Dr. Wyse demonstrated how you could customize your search criteria to look for golf courses across the province. The screen would then display all available courses in relation to the user's location.

His technology known as i-Dar, short for Internet radar, has been in development for several years. One of the technical challenges he encountered during i-Dar's development required the creation of a specialized data management technique that is currently the subject of a patent application in the United States.

"One of the most gratifying experiences in a professor's career occurs when teaching activities and research interests come together," said Dr. Wyse. "This area of work is rich with interesting research topics about new technological developments and applications. The subject interests students and prepares them for developments in their future business environments." As part of their course projects, Mr. Hickey and Mr. Hedderson applied the location-based prototype information to two different ideas.

Mr. Hedderson worked on an application called MunSpots that provides location-based information focused on the needs and activities of students. One of the features he was exploring was route mapping where the computer would indicate the shortest route between campus locations.

"Dr. Wyse's implementation was a good starting point for discussing the ins and outs of GPS- enabled devices, as well as some of the details of bringing a new technology from the development stage through the commercialization process. Doing a business plan based on the i-Dar technology got me thinking about other applications for the technology, and a lot of the details I would have missed if we just did the course from a textbook."

Mr. Hickey worked on an application titled Hometowns that presents information on communities in i-Dar's spatial or location-based format.

"During the last few months of school, I couldn't get my mind off location-based commerce. I am still brainstorming ideas for software applications and exploring revenue streams."

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