Posted by edort
on March 22, 2007 at 8:59 AM PDT
In a lunchtime session at TheServerSide Symposium I learned how committed Sun is to opennness. I also saw some neat demos of SPOT technology.
Karen Tegan Padir is Sun's Vice President of Enterprise Java Platforms. I've never heard her speak before today. That's a shame because I found her to be an engaging and enthusiastic speaker. In an interesting anecdote Karen underscored how far we've come in the Internet age. She recalled how excited she was when she first got the ability at Digital Equipment Corporation to send emails. Ready to test this new and wonderful feature she sent an email to her father who was a sales executive at DEC. A short time later she got a call from her father saying that he got the email and was replying -- by phone!
Karen focused a lot of her talk on Sun's strong strides toward openness and its long term commitment to standardization. She noted that last year Sun's CEO Jonathan Schwartz announced that everything Sun develops will be open source. I've been very close to some of those open source efforts such as the GlassFish community that's delivered the open source GlassFish Application Server. I'm also aware of the Open JDK community that is working on an open source implementation of the JDK. But I wasn't aware of some of the other open source projects that have been initiated by Sun. Karen mentioned a number of these:
- Open Solaris. A community collaborating on open source Solaris technologies.
- Open DS. An community building an open source directory service.
- Open SSO. A community working on an open source implementation of single sign on.
- Portal Open Source. A community building an open source Portal Server implementation.
You can find out more about these projects on java.net .
Now you ask what's "SPOT"? After all, it's in the title of this blog? SPOT stands for Small Programmable Object Technology. It's a small (fits in the palm of your hand) wireless sensor device developed by Sun Labs -- you can find out more about SPOT here . And it was the star attraction in a series of demonstrations that Sun evangelist Simon Ritter did after Karen Tegan Padir finished her talk.
In the first demo Ritter held a SPOT in his hand and waved it quickly. What appeared in the airspace between the waves was a message that included the words "Sun SPOT." I'm not quite sure what was going on here. Ritter said something about an accelerometer. It seemed like magic to me. Next Ritter demonstrated how the Sun SPOT device could communicate with a remote web service to receive and display a different message. Then Ritter demo'd what I though was really cool. He ran a program that made a colored blip appear in the SPOT's LCD screen, then by tilting the device, he made the blip appear in another SPOT device, as if a colored ball rolled from one SPOT to another.
Ritter did some other interesting demonstrations. One involved SPOT devices mounted wood blocks over wheels. He then used a program to command the cars to chase each other. It worked -- sort of. One car seemed to want to drive off stage. Another went round and round in circles. In another demo Ritter used a SPOT device wrapped in a glove-like apparatus around his hand to control a 3D desktop. The 3D desktop was developed in Sun's Looking Glass project .
Some of these demos were pretty cool. But what's really cool are the potential uses that can come out of sensor based technologies like this one.