Students who say they can't keep in touch with family back home because their relatives don't use text messaging now have no excuse.
Telemessage is an up-and-coming service that allows users to send text messages from their cell phones to any landline telephone.
The message, which is heard via a computerized translation, can be replied to by using the landline telephone's keypad, said Andy Klassman, director of product management for Telemessage.
Klassman said Telemessage has become popular with the population of college students who send messages to people back home.
"[Telemessage] started off with a lot of college kids who were sending messages to their parents or to their girlfriends," he said.
Telemessage capability is a service provided by many of the major cell phone companies in the United States through a service agreement, Klassman added.
Penn State telecommunications professor Rob Frieden said Telemessage technology could help bridge the young text-messaging generation with the older, less text-message-savvy generation.
"For somebody like me, I'm indifferent or slightly negative to [text messaging]," he said. "This kind of thing is cross-generational."
Sara Kukulka (junior-public relations) said she would consider using Telemessage to communicate with her grandparents.
"[I would use it] more so for my grandparents because they don't know how to text message," she said.
Adam Edgar (junior-mathematics) said he does not think Telemessage is really worth the effort and would rather talk to the person instead.
"I think that's pretty useless," Edgar said. "If I wanted to get a hold of somebody on a landline phone I would call them."
Frieden said Telemessage technology not only adds another feature to the cell phone but also gives the landline handset a new function.
"The cell phone has evolved from being just a phone to a Swiss Army knife of applications," he said. "This particular [text-messaging application] is just one feature to diversify the functions of a handset."