Three Unusual Uses for Text Messages



Texting is now a well-trodden path for marketing strategists, but its uses range far beyond advertising. With more than nine out of ten text messages opened and read within minutes of receipt, there simply isn’t a better way to transmit information to large groups of people simultaneously. Schools are using SMS to remind students about deadlines, or inform them of last-minute closures. Churches are sending inspirational words to their congregation. Charities and non-profits are accepting donations via text. Emergency services are even using SMS to negotiate with criminals in a hostage situation.

The applications of this simple technology, now in its 22nd year, are many and varied. We’ve whittled down some of the more unusual uses of text messaging to our three favorites:

Sending Emergency Alerts

When Hurricane Sandy devastated the Eastern Seaboard in 2012, the cost to local businesses was huge. Infrastructures were temporarily rattled, with web servers and power lines down, and SMS messages were the only form of communication available to emergency services and commercial enterprise alike. Local residents were kept informed of crucial information, and it was all thanks to cloud-based mobile technology. 

Locating Lost Pets

Companies like MobiPet are helping people find lost animals by notifying registered veterinarians, shelters and pet owners within a 30 mile radius. Unlike microchip implants, it’s a completely non-invasive way of tracking pets. All that’s required is a cell phone with a camera and SMS capabilities – technology that’s available to nearly 95% of the US mobile marketplace.

Domestic Chores

‘Smart appliances’ allow people to program a series of commands, which are triggered by text message when needed. Dishwashers, fridges, robot vacuum cleaners – almost anything can be integrated with intelligent SMS systems that let users activate them from afar. For example, if you are going away for a few days, you can tell your fridge to go into power-save mode, your washer to start cycling the day before you return, or your Roomba to clean house at regular pre-ordained intervals.

The future is here, and SMS messaging is a major player. If you can think of any other interesting applications for text message technology, let us know in the comments section!


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