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Demo 07: Connecting Devices And Making Pigs Fly

DartDevices lets devices with different operating systems and CPUs -- say the HP iPaq Phone and a Mac -- communicate, interoperate, and synchronize.

Pigs flew at the Demo 07 conference in Palm Springs, Calif., on Thursday morning. Bluetooth-enabled pigs no less. DartDevices was able to trigger the plastic pigs' wings using a wireless device, thanks to its new interoperability software that enables different devices to work together.

Getting devices designed for compatibility to perform as intended can be a challenge. But DartDevices' technology lets devices with different operating systems and CPUs -- say the HP iPaq phone and a Mac -- communicate, interoperate, and synchronize.

DartDevices manages this technical sleight of hand by adding a virtualization layer, the DartPlayer, which obviates the need for specific drivers to get devices to communicate and sync. Applications written to take advantage of this system -- Dart apps -- can then interact with any device loaded with the player software. Dart apps treat all accessible devices as one, making it easy to share files and data across devices that wouldn't ordinarily talk to each other.

Improving the function of mobile devices was the focus of the Thursday morning presentations at Demo. Among the more promising, a company called Inilex showed off a GPS-based car antitheft system called Kepler Advantage. The hardware-based system -- allegedly a 20-minute install -- reports car location information to the user's mobile phone or PC. It can also be used for teen tracking: Protective parents will receive a text message when rebellious progeny drive to the wrong side of the tracks.

Seagate showed off its Dave Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled pocket hard drive for mobile phones. "There simply isn't enough storage on my mobile phone to carry the business files that I need with me," says Rob Pait, director of global consumer electronics marketing for Seagate. "What we really need today is storage without wires."

And apparently, we also need music-backed voice memos that can be sent to mobile phone users (Buz Interactive's, voice and text messages that can be sent to groups from any phone (Breviant Technologies', and the ability to send and receive video ringtones (Vringo's

Among the mobile phone-oriented announcements, Mobio Network's mobile mashup applications stood out. The company is offering mobile widgets, which is to say small programs, that combine Web services such as restaurant reservations and online maps for easy use on mobile devices. Perhaps even more so than storage, what mobile users really need is easy-to-use e-commerce applications.

There was some attention given to enterprise needs, too. Alcatel Lucent presented the company's new laptop management card that goes by the name Project Evros. The company calls it an "ignition key for laptops." It gives IT managers complete control over remote machines, including the ability to locate lost laptops or delete sensitive data if necessary.

Nuvoiz demonstrated its Nuvoiz Softphone VoIP telephony software. Though the software looks like AOL or Yahoo might have designed it, with bright, colorful icons, it's designed for business use. The company calls it "Skype for the enterprise." It runs on Windows or Windows Mobile and includes administrative software for IT managers. For all its promise, the audible stutter added to the demonstrator's voice during the presentation suggested that this VoIP system at least had some call quality issues to work out. Either that or it was unfortunate timing for random technical gremlins.

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