HELSINKI, FINLAND — To hear telecommunications executives talk, in the future mobile phones may be able to do everything but bring you your slippers.
This month, Nokia launched a new version of its Communicator mobile phone, which allows users to send a fax or log on to the Internet. It will be able to transmit data at 36,000 baud - four times as fast as previous incarnations.
The other possible uses for new generation digital mobile-phone computers are legion. At Telecom Finland's Helsinki headquarters, employees open the garage doors by a mobile call. The system automatically checks that the caller has security clearance.
Students at the University of Helsinki can buy a soda from a vending machine by dialing a number with their mobile. The cost is added to their phone bill. Similar experiments allow Finns to use their mobile phone to get a car washed or choose a song from a jukebox.
At the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, students already are envisaging telephones that include or hook easily onto full-size computer screens. Nokia expects to begin producing these new handsets by 2001. "You should be able to pick up your mobile and connect on a video conference with anyone in the world," predicts Nokia executive Pekka Isosomppi. "And you'll be able to use your phone instead of a mobile computer."