by June 19, 2000 0 comments

It’s almost become a
cliché to say that the Internet represents a revolution, but the fact
remains that
the revolution isn’t over yet. Companies all over the world are working
on, how to use the Net for better connectivity among users. HP’s CoolTown
project is another effort in this regard, and what makes CoolTown possible
is software like E-Squirt.

The long-term vision is of a
place where everything–people, places, and things–are connected to the
Web, and the Web connects everything. For example, when you visit a museum,
every painting there would have a URL, which your handheld, or wristwatch,
can pick up. You could use this to get more information on the painting via
the Web, or point your device to a printer and get a print of any painting
you like. At the same time, the museum would use the same URL to control
inventory.

HP has developed a software
in this direction. The software, called E-Squirt, is in alpha prototype
release, and is freely downloadable from http://cooltown.hp.com/code.htm.

A prototype E-Squirt
installation would consist of one or more E-Squirt clients and an E-Squirt
server. At present, the E-Squirt client software is available for HP’s
Jordana 400, 600, and 800 series with WinCE and SH3 or ARM processor; and
PalmOS platforms. The server software is available for Win 98-based PC
servers. The server needs to have an Internet connection, and an IR
port/add-on IR dongle.

E-Squirt allows you to
transfer a URL over a short-range wireless link. So, you can use E-Squirt in
your PDA, mobile phone, or wristwatch. Your device may or may not be
connected to the Web or even to a network. It can “squirt” the URL–using
infrared, for instance–to another device like a PC, printer, projector,
etc, that’s either connected to the Web directly or to another device,
which in turn is connected to the Web. If the device it’s squirting to
doesn’t have IR capability built in, you can add IR ports as accessories.

E-Squirt has the potential to
give you access to lots of resources on the fly. For example, you can store
your documents on the Web, save their URLs in your handheld, and print them
by squirting the URL to a printer. Similarly, you can save your presentation
on the Web, load its URLs on your mobile device, and make your presentation
at the client’s site by squirting its URL to the LCD projector.

E-Squirt is also aimed at
interacting with a device called Beacon. Beacons are small infrared
transceivers, which broadcast URLs. So, your E-Squirt-enabled device can
receive beaconed URLs, from say paintings in the museum. You can then fetch
Web pages directly on your device if it’s connected to the Web, or squirt
the URLs to another Web appliance.

E-Squirt is in version 1 at
present, and allows you to send and receive beacons, as well as squirt URLs
to printers or displays (such as an LCD projector) via a PC server. Version
2, which is set for release sometime this year, will allow PC-less printing,
and will include support for security.

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