The University of Southampton sure has some ideas of how to have fun with their HTC 7 Trophy...namely sending it to the upper atmosphere (18,237 meters/59,832 feet). The project is part of the University's ASTRA (Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft) program and is meant to investigate " technologies for making low cost observations of the physical parameters of the atmosphere."

In this case, they teamed up with Microsoft to use the Trophy, write software for the phone meant to track the balloon and predict where it was going to land. From the Guardian article:

In Flight Mode, the app installed on the handset was able to record and transmit GPS and location data part of the way up and down – while within range of mobile networks – while in Hunter Mode on the team's own handsets, it plotted the latest data and predicted a landing site on a Bing map.

So why a Windows Phone? Partly because no one wanted to program in objective C (what the iPhone uses) and also because mobile phones today, with their small size yet onboard GPS, 1GHz processor and excellent build quality just make great mini-computers. All you need to do is write the app, have the software/hardware back-end (Microsoft Azure, in this case) and a signal. Like others, they hope Microsoft extends the Bluetooth profiles so they can have the phone "talk to" some of their other equipment and that compass API might be useful too. Friday's flight was just a test run and the whole system reportedly did very well. Either way, it sounds like a cool project and it would probably make a good ad for HTC.

Source: ASTRA Launch Diary; via