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‘Dual Persona’ Doesn't Mean Your Phone Is Schizo

It was off to Las Vegas last week for the people who work in mobile, which makes it a great occasion to explore the technologies in that adjacent (and adjoined) industry pocket.

Amongst the newsy bits at the CTIA — The Wireless Association’s big event: “Dual persona” phones; windows that boost cell signals; ways to stream your music in your car, even if your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, and “single mode” phones.

Let’s hit them one by one, starting with the “dual persona phone.” Its inspiration was the “bring your own device” scene, handily abbreviated “BYOD.”

 Turns out lots of people are bringing their company-issue devices home, thus co-mingling the mobile work machine with regular-life stuff. Or, bringing the personal iPhone to work, and co-mingling regular-life stuff with work stuff.

We all know people who carry two phones — one work, one personal. The “dual persona” phone, launched last week by Verizon Enterprise Solutions (on LG “Intuition” and Motorola “RAZR M” phones, to start), builds a software barrier between your work and your life. Your work stuff stays secure enough to satisfy your IT department, and your life stuff (photos, text messages, social networks) stays private enough to satisfy you.

Somehow, presumably easily and swiftly, you toggle between the two. (In any case, always be careful with your gadgets and their output after 10 p.m.)

An outfit called Red Band Software won an Emerging Technology award for its work on turning a single mobile device into two virtual phones, running on the same hardware. (That’s straight from the press release.) It’s working with Samsung to put dual persona into the Galaxy S III.

Yoram Salinger, CEO of Red Bend, put it this way: “CIOs are frustrated with first-generation BYOD approaches because they provide a false sense of security, infringe on employee privacy and are difficult to integrate on corporate applications.

So if there’s a phone that can toggle between home and enterprise, is there a phone that can toggle between Apple iOS and Android? (Just typing that triggered a mild headache.)

Or better yet: A dual-persona phone with the stuff we love of iPhone, but with the tactile keyboard of the BlackBerry?

Other nifty stuff at CTIA: Windows that boost your cell signal, demonstrated as a research concept from Ericsson.* This must be good for  “low-E” windows, which do a great job of containing heat in winter and deflecting heat in summer – but seriously mess with high frequency (2.5 GHz and up) signals.

And, if your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, but you want to stream your music from your phone to your speakers without tying up your handset, check out the $39.95 “AirWave” gizmo from Cobra Electronics. It’s not the first to market, but it’s cheap and light and small.

Another cellular-side buzz-phrase: The “single mode” phone. Meaning that it’s all 4G/LTE, all the time. No 3G. That’d be like a cable operator going all-IP, everything through the cable modem, no QAM, no set-tops. (Which is in the works, all over the place. When: Nobody really knows, but “soon.”)

For a mobile carrier to go to a single-mode phone, it will need confidence about network reach. It’s a Verizon thing, so far, which indicates confidence about the reach of that telco’s newest plant.

All indicators from this year’s CTIA depict the mobile sector as healthy and innovative. Think about your phone, and what it does, compared to a few years ago: It’s your email machine, instant messenger, camera, alarm clock, calendar, file cabinet, flashlight, atlas, social network connector, jukebox, TV remote control, web browser, address book — oh, and your telephone.

So, your dual-persona phone isn’t schizo. As multiple personalities go, our phones already have about 15.

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*Watch a video demo of Ericsson’s cellular-boosting “Window of Opportunity” here.