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Now you can see freeway misery on your cellphone

June 24, 2008|Joseph Menn | Times Staff Writer

We promise not to write about every new application for mobile phones, especially those involving video. Video clips don't work on many models and can be ruinously expensive for those without generous data plans.

And yet, as a surprisingly large number of companies struggle to justify their existences by pitching new video gambits, we feel compelled to point out some efforts that should at least get points for trying.

With that, meet NBC Los Angeles Traffic Cam. Available at www.freetrafficcams.com/ los_angeles, it uses a service from privately held 3rd Dimension Inc. And if that company can't make a go of things in L.A., it should really give up.

Starting today, people with the right phones can download the free application, then click and pick from more than 270 cameras aimed at the city's streets and highways to view.

By "right phones," we don't mean the iPhone. That version is coming this summer, 3rd Dimension spokesman Rob Manfredo said. In the meantime, devices that work include the BlackBerry 7100 series, T-Mobile Dash, Motorola V180 and phones running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile Smartphone or PocketPC editions.

Some of the cameras aimed at the street relay still pictures and update them often, while others will show live video, Manfredo said. But all have the potential to inform, inspire and enrage.

CalTrans, the L.A. County MTA and KNBC-TV, which gets a healthy cut of the pre-roll advertising, are all in on the action.

Almost 40,000 people have downloaded versions for other cities, including New York and Houston.

Officially, 3rd Dimension tells people not to look at the application while driving. So have your passenger click around to advise you on what route to take, OK?

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