-- AT&T has more than 13 million emerging devices on its network. Some areas where AT&T is focusing:
•Health care and personal monitoring. Announced earlier this year, Vitality GlowCaps (price varies), replace the tops of prescription pill bottles and light up regularly when drugs should be taken. If a patient forgets to take the medication, a phone call or text message is sent as a reminder. About half of all Americans over 50 don't take their medicine correctly, Vitality estimates.
First launched in March 2010, a new enhanced version is in the works to launch in 2012.
"It's one great example of a simplistic device that will help that whole ecosystem to be more efficient," says Glenn Lurie, AT&T's president for emerging devices, national resale and partnerships.
Also coming soon to the network is the key fob-sized Libri mobile monitoring device from BlueLibris (expected to be available from various health care providers, no price yet), which can be used to send patient information to a caregiver, call center or family member.
"Very much like an OnStar for people," says company founder and CEO Ram Fish, the device lets the owner push a button to talk to someone on the other end, while simultaneously wirelessly transmitting a wealth of medical data such as heart rate and blood pressure (with the help of other Bluetooth medical body sensors).
•Vehicles. Nissan's electric vehicle, the Leaf, has a built-in wireless module for tracking its battery power level and finding charging stations. A similar deal lets Ford Focus Electric drivers also control vehicle settings via their smartphone. Also in the works: enhanced wireless functions for future BMWs. "In the future, your mechanic will call you when they sense something is wrong," says Lurie.
•Monitoring. The GTU 10 (out now, $200, comes with one free year of wireless service) from GPS device maker Garmin attaches to pet collars, backpacks and other objects so you can keep track of children, pets and important things.
AT&T has been proactive in connecting a wide range of non-traditional mobile devices to its network, says Stephanie Ethier, senior analyst with research firm In-Stat.
"The folks who make up AT&T's emerging devices organization clearly sat down one day and said, 'What else should we be connecting to our network?' The inherent challenge is that each of these non-traditional mobile device categories is different … in terms of consumer price sensitivity, usage model, and distribution," she says.
At Amazon.com, vice president Dave Limp agrees. "Kindle 3G is by far the fastest-growing connected device on the AT&T network because customers never have to hunt for or pay for a Wi-Fi hotspot. They simply download and read Kindle books anytime, anywhere - in less than 60 seconds."