Wednesday, December 21, 2005

AoyW Pocket Servers

Web 2.5 services should run from almost any mobile device, but the ideal host is a wireless pocket server—something the size of a flash drive or credit card. Unfortunately, wi-fi doesn't allow for a battery-powered access point, which is what the pocket server should be in a wi-fi context. Bluetooth hasn't caught on as a replacement for USB, and a high-rate WPAN, based on some form of "ultra-wideband", has yet to escape the demo theater. That's why we haven't seen more of these guys.

There are two candidates, however, one a research project at Intel, the other a new offering from startup Realm Systems...

The Intel Personal Server is a Bluetooth gadget which has not yet escaped the laboratory. Its software is web-based, with some extensions, like UPnP and Windows file service. Its designer, Roy Want, is a disciple of the late Mark Weiser, visionary of ubiquitous computing. (I also count myself as adherent of guru Weiser.)

The (steel yourself for the heavy-metal website) BlackDog is a USB-connected pocket server. You plug it in and the host PC instantly fires up,, X Windows. (I am frankly embarrased to have mentioned the term in public.) I guess these guys just haven't gotten out on the web much lately. The OS on board is Linux, so X was an easy path to desktop apps. The connectivity between the X apps running on the unit and the X terminal running on the PC can should be used to link a web server with a browser on the PC.

Since wireless pocket servers are still rare, we're building airWRX to run directly from an ordinary flash drive, or on a wi-fi handheld, or (if you're the type who totes a laptop everywhere in standby) in the background on a laptop.


At Thursday, February 09, 2006 1:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you had a chance to actually use a BlackDog? It seems like it's as close to a practical implementation of a point server as we'll get for the moment that actually has a CPU.

At Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:53:00 PM, Blogger Liam said...

Yep, it does seem pretty cool. I'm planning to get one to play with, and see if airWRX can be ported without too much trouble.

Another way to go is a Wi-Fi handheld, like the Zaurus, and figure out how to turn off the screen via software when using it as a server.


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