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750 Plays Ball

Wed May 16, 2007 - 12:11 PM EDT - By Annie Latham


The Treo 750 Plays Ball: Tech Demo During Nationals Game

Why is this man smiling?

He saw a Treo 750 doing some amazing things… things that can’t be done out of the box, with a BlackBerry. Things in a baseball context that he realized would positively impact many types of businesses.

It all started with an idea thought up by Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a company that specializes in providing computer networking solutions for small to medium-size businesses. In what was perhaps the greatest hookup since Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (you know “two great tastes that taste great together”), he came up with an idea of combining his love for baseball (specifically the Washington Nationals) with his in-depth knowledge of Microsoft Office, Exchange Server and Windows Mobile, to come up with a way to make big league decisions in real-time using a Treo 750. He has created a game, within a game scenario, to demonstrate the extensive mobility capabilities that Microsoft, Palm, Global Wireless Data and Evolve Technologies can enable.


Fantasy Baseball: Inning-by-Inning, Head-to-Head.

For each inning, participants pick a member from the Nationals lineup to be their “fantasy” player using a Treo 750 has been loaded with an Excel spreadsheet containing key statistics (Hits, Runs, RBIs, Base on Balls, Total Bases) from the last 7 days, 30-days and previous season.

This setup lets you do what a lot of folks in this "Moneyball" era are doing --study stats and trends to help with decision making.

So basically, Sobel has participants looking at the numbers, picking a player, emailing who they select to a designated address, and then they watch the game to see how they did. Scores will be posted along with the results from others participating in the demo. At the end of the day (or game, as the case may be) the winner gets bragging rights, PLUS a better understanding of the power of the Treo 750 for data analysis in the field.



Beyond the Ballpark.

The way Dave Sobel sees it, if you can pull information into an Excel spreadsheet to make real-time baseball decisions from your Treo, you can also pull other important data to help facilitate decision making.

An example of the use of this type of mobile technology can be found in the healthcare arena. Last year, at HIMSS 2006, the leading healthcare information technology tradeshow, Palm and Microsoft demonstrated PatientKeeper on the Treo 700w smartphone.

The award-winning PatientKeeper Platform is an integral part of the IT strategies of organizations across the healthcare continuum, ranging from small physician practices and community hospitals to major academic medical centers and some of the largest health systems in the country. With the software from PatientKeeper, physicians can access their patients’ electronic records, write prescriptions, enter charges, dictate notes, document encounters, place orders or send security-enhanced messages to other caregivers — all in a single integrated environment.

Another example is in a retail environment. A store manager with access to employee scheduling information on a Windows Mobile device (like a Treo 750), would actually be able to make more decisions on-the-fly, from the sales floor instead of the back office. Imagine how the customer experience could be improved by something as simple as being able to quickly respond to situations such as the need for additional checkers.


The Right Platform.

Sobel was impressed with how the Microsoft tools worked out-of-the box, enabling his team to design an end-to-end solution that didn’t require third party add-ons. In the baseball example, they were using push technologies that were part of Microsoft Exchange server, and Active Sync OTA (Over-The-Air).

By the way, the demo was put together using the Microsoft Office 2007 development platform, but saved as an earlier file format. And it runs on Windows Mobile version 5 on the Treo 750. So it uses proven technology.

Unlimited Data Plan is Key.

Though the Treo 750 being used for the demo runs on Cingular’s (now AT&T) wireless network, any Windows-mobile-based Treo from other carriers can be programmed to function in a similar way. The key is to select a wireless provider that offers an unlimited data plan at a price you can stomach.

It looks like AT&T’s unlimited Data Connect plan for PDA devices runs between $39.99/mo (PDA Max) and $44.99/mo (PDA Max w/Unlimited Mobile to Mobile Messaging).

Verizon unlimited plans start at $79.99 (Verizon Wireless PDA/Smartphone Core Choice 450) and go up depending on how many minutes you need. For example, their top of the line plan (Verizon Wireless PDA/Smartphone Max Choice 4000) plan runs $169.99 per month.

These numbers can vary based on the promotions that are running at any particular time.

The Platform that Does More.

It’s clear that Microsoft and its partners are eagerly spreading the news that Windows Mobile can do so much more… more than just email (the BlackBerry’s specialty) and more than the iPhone is slated to do. The connectivity to backend applications running on the Exchange Server is a big differentiator. And the “in the Palm of your hand” access to applications you are already familiar with (i.e Excel, Word), make the Treo 750 and Treo 700w|wx mobile devices worth considering.

Demo Day at RFK.

Sunday was the dry run of the technology. This Thursday, May 17, up to 70 small business owners and reporters will be participating in the real deal during the Washington Nationals/Atlanta Braves game at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C.

If things go as planned, Sobel’s idea may be a hit both inside AND outside of ballparks.



The Demo Day Partners are:

Evolve Technologies -- a consulting firm that provides information technology and computer networking services to small businesses.

Global Wireless Data -- a full-service, value-added master reseller and distributor for wireless data communication products and services. It provides an array of Managed Wireless Services allowing firms to offload the resource-consuming tasks associated with wireless technology deployments.

Microsoft -- the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Palm, Inc. -- a leader in mobile computing, strives to put the power of computing in people's hands so they can access and share their most important information.




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