Some of the UK's top designers and technology experts have been announced as winners in the £400,000 Mobile Phone Security Challenge, a national competition to create "crime proof" mobile phones.
The winning teams are; Proxama with Minima Design, Therefore Product Design with Imagination Technologies Limited, Rodd Design with TTP (The Technology Partnership) and Data Transfer Communications and PDD Group Limited with You Get It Back.
The four winning teams are each made up of a design and a technology lead and were selected on the strengths of their credentials. The teams will be tasked with developing new ways of securing mobile phone handsets, the data they contain, and their future use as electronic "wallets" when m-commerce (mobile-commerce) technology is introduced in the UK. Their innovative ideas and concepts will now be developed and refined over the coming months in steering meetings with an expert panel from across the mobile, technology and design industries.
The winning teams will aim to produce market-ready solutions which may include hardware and software for handsets, new services and other innovations, which will be showcased and promoted in early 2010, with a view to widespread and rapid take-up by the market.
The Challenge is part of "Design Out Crime", an initiative from the Home Office's Design & Technology Alliance Against Crime and the Design Council. The Mobile Phone Security Challenge is supported by the Technology Strategy Board. Over 50 teams applied to the complex Challenge, setting out how they would tackle making mobile phones less attractive to thieves and fraudsters while developing real market solutions.
The applications were judged by a panel of the UK's most respected experts in the fields of design and mobile telecommunications and included representatives from Vodafone and Nokia. The four winning teams will be allocated £100,000 each for research and development, and will spend the next six months developing their solutions with access to advice from a panel of experts in the mobile, technology and design industries.
According to the British Crime Survey, a mobile phone is stolen in half of all robberies. Another recent survey found that 80% of people carry information on their mobile phone handsets that could be used by criminals to commit fraud - and 16% keep their bank details saved on their phone, yet only 4 in 10 people currently lock their mobiles using a PIN. Such sensitive data includes website passwords, bookmarks, emails, personal security data and locations/addresses on map applications.
"We have already introduced strong measures to make mobile phone theft unattractive to thieves - around 90 per cent of handsets reported stolen are now blocked within 24 hours reducing their value and the incentive to steal," said Alan Campbell, Home Office Minister. "However, the rapidly developing nature of mobile technology means safeguards must be incorporated at the drawing board stage if we are to stop criminals from profiting from this type of crime. I look forward to seeing the innovative solutions these teams will create in order to improve mobile phone security."
"We've had a great response to the Challenge from some really high calibre teams. Designing out crime from mobile phones is a complex problem," commented Joe McGeehan, Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime, Director of Centre for Communications Research, Bristol University. "I think we have selected four very able teams that will deliver a range of potential solutions over the coming months, all of them innovative and practical."
"This Design Out Crime project has big social and economic relevance right now," added David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council. "If these top winning design and technology teams can bring innovative crime-busting solutions to the international market, that will be good for business and jobs in the UK. It could also represent another important step forward in reducing the risk and fear of modern crimes."
Other activity in the Design Out Crime programme, an initiative from the Home Office's Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime and the Design Council, includes using design to tackle crime reduction and anti-social behaviour issues across business crime, housing related crime, schools and alcohol related crime.