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A Faculty-Created Startup for Mobile Apps. Dr. Ron Vetter, PhD Department of Computer Science University of North Carolina Wilmington. Outline. History of Mobile Development at UNCW WAP / Java Midlets Short Message Service (or SMS) Mobile Education LLC Mobile App Development

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a faculty created startup for mobile apps

A Faculty-Created Startup for Mobile Apps

Dr. Ron Vetter, PhD

Department of Computer Science

University of North Carolina Wilmington



  • History of Mobile Development at UNCW
  • WAP / Java Midlets
  • Short Message Service (or SMS)
  • Mobile Education LLC
  • Mobile App Development
  • Mobile Device Security and Forensics
  • Questions




  • 1999: Wireless Network Rollout
  • 2000: Project Numina
    • Focus on handheld computers and science/math
    • Applications: SRS and GraphData
  • 2001-2003: Move to Pocket PCs
  • 2004-2006: NSF funded Virtual Learning Communities Project (Tablet PCs)
  • 2006-2008: Move to Mobile Phones: WAP, Java Midlets, SMS
  • 2009-2011: Smartphone Apps, Mobile Web
  • 2012-present: Mobile Device Security & Forensics

History of Mobile Dev. at UNCW



  • Many phones have browsers that are like small versions of desktop web browsers.
  • Phone browsers are designed to display WAP which is similar to HTML but much simpler.
  • WAP is the de-facto world standard for the presentation and delivery of wireless information and telephony services on mobile phones.
  • Standard web servers can serve WAP as well as HTML.




  • 1. CORMP: live weather and ocean data from buoys
  • The screen at the right shows links to all of the buoys.

CORMP WAP Application



  • Selecting a link shows the current conditions at that buoy.

CORMP WAP Application



  • 2. UNCW Directory
  • 3. RSS News Feeds

If it is available online, then we can make it available through WAP.

Other UNCW WAP Applications



  • Installing a Java application on a phone is easier than installing an application on a PC.
  • Application can be installed by clicking a link in a WAP page.
  • Development Platform: SUN Java Wireless Toolkit

UNCW Java Applications



CORMP Java Application



CORMP Java Application



  • Defined in 1985
  • Purpose to allow simple communication between mobile devices
  • First SMS message sent in 1989
  • Fastest form of communication when counterpart not able to take a call
    • Few seconds slower than direct voice call
    • Faster by hours or days when compared to other forms of communication

Short Message Service or Texting


In 2000 – 14.4 million text messages/month

  • In 2006 – 18.7 billion text messages/month
  • In 2008 – 30 billion text messages/month
  • In 2009 – 135 billion text messages/month
  • In 2010 – 150 billion text messages/month
  • In 2011 – 200 billion text messages/month
  • In 2012 – 205 billion text messages/month (estimated)

SMS Statistics

SMS is a service available on most digital mobile phones
  • Message size
    • 160 – 7 bit characters
    • 140 – 8 bit characters
    • 70 – 16 bit characters
  • No formatting – just straight text
  • Can be used with automated systems, such as ordering products and services, or participating in contests.


When a user sends a text message to another user, the phone actually sends the message to the SMSC.
  • The SMSC stores the message and then delivers it to the destination user when they are available. This is a store and forward operation.
  • The SMSC usually has a configurable time limit for how long it will store the message, and users can usually specify a shorter time limit if they want.

Short Message Center

Common short codes are numbers to which text messages can be sent from a mobile phone.
  • Wireless subscribers send text messages to short codes with relevant keywords to access a wide variety of mobile content.
  • CSCs are compatible across participating carriers and are currently defined as 5 or 6 digit numbers.
  • Interactive SMS requires a CSC

Common Short Code

Maintains connections with carriers’ SMSCs using Short Message Peer-to-Peer Protocol (SMPP)
  • Provide API for mobile content service providers to connect to their servers
  • Provision CSC with cell phone carriers (provisioning takes approximately 3 months)

Message Aggregators

Carriers provide a mechanism to turn an email into an SMS message, called an Email-to-SMS Gateway
  • They are one-way → the recipient cannot reply to the message
  • Carriers filter for spam and may block access to the gateway
  • Carriers provide this service as a courtesy and may discontinue the service at any time

Email-to-SMS Gateway







Server &






SMS Broker





SMS System Architecture


Mobile User

Service Providers


Content Provider



  • Many users already use text messaging
  • Creating and sending SMS is easier than opening browser or starting a Java application
  • Disadvantages:
  • Cost to send and receive messages
  • Stateful behavior is difficult to emulate

Summary of SMS Applications

A faculty start-up company providing mobile message content services (emphasis on interactive 2-way SMS interfaces)
  • Working with an SMS aggregator to provision a common short code (90947)
  • Share the common short code across multiple institutions in order to reduce costs
  • Focus on the commercial development of advanced mobile computing applications originating from UNCW
  • Initial target market: higher education institutions

Web site – http://myMobEd.com

Mobile Education LLC

UNCW would form an affiliated Research LLC to contract with the faculty start-up and hold the university’s equity interest in the for-profit company.
  • The Research LLC and the faculty start-up will share any concepts, applications, and/or IP resulting from collaboration and will execute reciprocal licenses for the use of those applications and intellectual property.
  • UNCW may utilize the resulting applications on a royalty-free basis, and the faculty start-up retains the rights to exploit the concepts and/or resulting IP commercially.

Fundamentals of the Relationship

UNCW will contribute intellectual assets, equipment, funding, personnel, and access to its systems and the campus market for the development of applications beneficial to students, faculty, and staff.
  • UNCW will purchase Mobile Ed’s services as outlined per their agreement.

Scope of Agreement: UNCW

Mobile Ed develops business plan and provides a schedule, timeline, and list of deliverables.
  • Participates in good faith to develop customized applications and concepts for UNCW’s use and for potential commercialization to other customers.
  • Markets viable IP and/or concepts resulting from the collaboration.

Scope of Agreement: Mobile Ed


UNCW Applications (2007-08)www.uncw.edu/mobile

  • Subscribe to receive daily campus events
      • Text EVENTS to 90947
  • Interactive shuttle bus info (Wave Transit)
      • Text BUS <route> to 90947
  • Grade information (SunGard Banner)
      • Text GRADE <course> <number> to 90947
  • Interactive movie schedule (EMS Calendar)
      • Text MOVIE to 90947
uncw applications 2008 09 www uncw edu mobile

UNCW Applications (2008-09)www.uncw.edu/mobile

UNCW Applications (2008-09)www.uncw.edu/mobile
  • Outlook Mobile Services (FINAID, LIBRARY, LINK, CAREER) – http://TextTitan.com
  • Mobile Coupons – http://CouponsToYourPhone.com
  • Text Voting – http://myMobEd.com/vote
  • Dub Hunt – http://DubHunt.com

UNCW placed 2nd in the 2008 AT&T Mobile Campus Challenge

uncw applications 2009 10 www uncw edu mobile

UNCW Applications (2009-10)www.uncw.edu/mobile

UNCW Applications (2009-10)www.uncw.edu/mobile
  • Text for surf information – WAVES
  • Text for dining menu – WAG & DUBCAFE
  • Receive alerts for course wait lists (from Banner)
  • SMS Locker – http://www.smslocker.com
  • iPhone Apps – UNCW Mobile and iTour
uncw applications 2010 11 www uncw edu mobile

UNCW Applications (2010-11)www.uncw.edu/mobile

UNCW Applications (2010-11)www.uncw.edu/mobile
  • Text Surveys & Polls – http://TakeTextPoll.com
  • Keywords for Student Groups and Classes
  • Athletics
    • Vote for player of game
    • TeamTeal
    • SeaHawkClub
    • UNCWSports
    • UNCWTickets

UNCW wins 2010 Digital Education Achievement Award

uncw applications 2010 11 www uncw edu mobile28

UNCW Applications (2011-12)www.uncw.edu/mobile

UNCW Applications (2010-11)www.uncw.edu/mobile
  • UNCW Safe Rides Program (text “saferides” to 90947)
  • “Get to know PHIL” Student Philanthropy Campaign – http://uncw.edu/phil/textphil.html

UNCW was selected as the 2012

Council for the Advancement and

Support of Education (CASE) District III

Grand Award Winner in the Educational

Fundraising Projects Category!

  • UNCW Recreation Center (text “rec” to 90947)

Formed Spring 2009:

    • Resources Acquired (books, iPhones)
    • iPhone Developer University Program
    • Faculty, staff, and students involved
  • Three Areas of Focus:
    • Programming Team (iPhone: Spring ’10, Android: Fall ‘10, Spring ’11, iOS: Fall ‘12)
    • Mobile Web Design Team (m.uncw.edu and uncw.mobi)
    • Application Brainstorming and Design Team

Mobile Phone R&D Group


UNCW iTour App – Camilo Alvarez

  • UNCW Mobile App – Ricardo Valea & Phillip Whisenhunt

UNCW Mobile Phone Apps



iPhone SDK 3 Programming by Maher Ali

    • Comprehensive iPhone programming book that does not use Interface Builder
  • http://itunes.stanford.edu
    • Stanford has made a lot of material on iPhone programming available for free on iTunes University
  • Apple iOS Dev Center – http://developer.apple.com/devcenter

iPhone Programming Resources


Android Programming

Inventor for Android is a programming tool that lets people easily create mobile applications (http://appinventor.mit.edu/)

See also:




Mobile Web Apps

  • Mobile Web (HTML5) - http://www.html5rocks.com/
  • Cross-Platform Development Tools
    • Phone Gap - http://phonegap.com/
    • App Mobi - http://www.appmobi.com/
  • Challenges and Opportunities in Mobile Web and App Development (IEEE Computing Now, Ron Vetter, Nov. 2011) - http://www.computer.org/portal/web/computingnow/archive/november2011

Smart Phone Security Challenges

  • Consumer Product: wide range of users and uses
  • Platform-Oriented: wide range of operating systems
  • Multiple-Entrances: every communication channel is a threat (e.g., Bluetooth, Cellular, Wi-Fi, Malicious Apps)
  • Central Data Management: data is on memory card
  • Limited Battery Life: cannot sacrifice battery life
  • Vulnerability to Theft and Loss: in the U.S. alone over nine million smart phones lost in 2011 (one every 3.5 seconds)
  • Enterprise Issues: mixing of personal/corporate data

How to Protect Yourself?

  • Never accept a Bluetooth connection from anyone you do not know and set device to “non-discoverable” or simply turn off.
  • Never click on an unknown link or attachment and keep all systems/application patches up-to-date.
  • Require smart phones that access enterprise network to conform to best practices and security standards.
  • If data is stored on phone, require that it be encrypted.
  • Require authentication to log onto phone as well as all business applications.
  • Consider the use of mobile antivirus software.

Mobile Device Forensics

  • Digital forensics is the branch of forensic science that focuses on the recovery and investigation of digital data. It has applications in many contexts outside the courtroom, including research, policy enforcement, and intelligence gathering.
  • Mobile device forensics – which covers cell phones, smart phones, tablets, PDAs, and GPS receivers – is a subspecialty of digital forensics.

Mobile Device Forensics

  • Data that can be recovered from a mobile devices includes:
    • Call history
    • Sent/received text messages
    • Contacts & phone numbers
    • Emails
    • Photos
    • Videos
    • Geo-location information
    • Web browsing history
    • Voice mail
    • Application histories/logs
    • Other data that might be retained within apps

Mobile Device Forensics

  • In April 2011 Apple received considerable media attention when it became known that the iPhone had been recording a detailed history of user geographical information in an unprotected file; with a simple extraction, one could create a geo-tagged map of all places the iPhone (user) visited.

Mobile Device Forensics

Cellebrite Physical Extraction Device


Mobile Device Forensics

XRY Logical Extraction Device