Wireless enterprise products on show

If you didn't get a chance to attend the Wireless IT 2000 show in the US last week, you missed a variety of vendors unveiling a heap of products aimed at making wireless data services over the Internet a more viable option for corporate users.

Attendees at the Wireless IT 2000 show, hosted by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, saw new handheld clients, including a prototype of Microsoft's Stinger smart mobile phone, high-speed interface cards and server software that translates Web content into formats that can be displayed on small-screen devices.

Cahners In-Stat Group predicts more than 1.5 billion mobile phone handsets, PDAs and Internet appliances will be equipped with wireless capabilities by the end of 2004. Users will want to access mobile commerce applications, entertainment, real-time financial information, and travel and direction services, Cahners says.

Still, the hyperbole about wireless data runs aground on some tough issues: low wireless transmission speeds, security concerns and carrier networks that are still largely oriented toward voice traffic, not data.

One of the other issues facing customers and service providers is providing different types of handhelds - which use different kinds of wireless networks - access to Web-based applications. Several companies unveiled products aimed at addressing this issue.

For example, NewsTakes unveiled software designed to automatically convert information in text, graphics, images, and audio and video files into formats that can be used by almost any kind of device, including mobile phones using Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and NTT DoCoMo's iMode protocol.

The patent-pending software, originally developed by Kent Ridge Digital Labs in Singapore, uses artificial intelligence technologies to tailor the display to fit the capabilities of the device and the wireless network used by the device.

According to Steve Rand, NewsTakes' senior vice president of business development, the software will let carriers or corporate users make use of existing content without needing to make costly, time-consuming changes to it.

Lutris Technologies unveiled a wireless version of its open-source Java application server, Lutris Enhydra. This server software is designed to host Java applications, interconnect with back-end servers and feed results to an array of handheld devices over wireless networks. The software will be released in December. Pricing isn't final, but one version will cost about $US1000, which includes Lutris' documentation of the open source software and an application to show how wireless applications are written. A higher-priced version will include training and technical support. The basic software, without documentation, can be downloaded free at www.enhydra.org

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