The Femto Forum has created a special interest group to experiment with an open framework under which to develop femtocell applications.
The announcement was made at the Femtocells World Summit in London today, where several of the latest developments across the industry were showcased.
Femtocells offer a range of benefits for the rollout of next-generation Long Term Evolution or WiMax mobile data access services, and applications can be added to these to offer a host of other services and features based on the cheap and fast data connections and location-awareness provided by these devices.
For instance, the ability for an application to know when a user is at home could be used to create presence-based applications that automatically trigger when the user enters or leaves the house.
The femtocell applications market is slowly gathering pace as vendors and applications developers create new services, but there is no common approach and applications have to be redeveloped to work on different femtocells.
The aim of this new initiative is to create a common applications environment and standardised APIs to enable developers to more easily create applications that will work across the majority of femtocell devices.
Example femtocell applications range from media synchronisation with PCs and other devices on the home network, to virtual 'fridge notes' where a message or reminder is delivered when the recipient returns home.
"The recent success of iPhone software and the application store launches from operators and handset manufacturers is testament to the importance of applications to the mobile industry," said Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum.
"Femtocells add a new dimension to application development, removing many of the constraints currently faced by mobile developers. By adding the potential to build high-bandwidth and location-aware applications, they allow the creation of a wide range of innovative and differentiated services."
The special interest group will also work in partnership with the appropriate standards bodies on the standardisation of the key APIs and interfaces required to support femtocell applications, Saunders said.
The group will also be responsible for promoting the potential of femtocell applications and their significance to the operator, femtocell vendor and application developer communities, and to build interest around all aspects of the topic.
Femtocells provide more robust connectivity and ease the backhaul burden for mobile operators, but they also act as a bridge between the mobile and home networks, allowing easier media sharing, and enabling the handset to be used to control other electronics devices and home automation systems.
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