Belt-carried Computer and Communicator
What will a Beltcom be?
An outgrowth and fusion of the Personal Digital Assistant and NII-SuperNet/HiperLAN technologies - The beltcom is
characterized by a very fast processor, custom operating-system kernels,
generally designed to handle JAVA (and spin-off architecture-neutral,
platform-neutral, operating-system neutral portable languages) applications
retrieved from the InterNet via SuperNet
5gigahertz or MIRcom
(modulated micropower impulse radar) modems. The beltcom is not only a Network Computer (tm;
please follow this link), but it also functions as a generic two-way
videocom link, although E-mail or agented operation is the preferred mode of
operation when not hardwired to fiberoptic. Also characterized by
modularity. The base unit is essentially a touch/pen-based I/O unit with
PCMCIA slots for additional memory, a fiberoptic connect port, and recharge
port. The touch/pen I/O screen switches rapidly to overlay an image of any
standard keyboard, so that rapid touchtyping is fairly easy without extra
space being required for a keyboard, although physical plug-in keyboard
modules can of course be obtained.
Various industry leaders have several proposals on the table regarding the
future development and deployment of a bigger, better networld.
Assorted government agencies are involved in this, notably the Federal Communications Commission and the National Institute of
Standards and Technology's Advanced Network Technology Division. The
military is also very interested in developments in
beltcom technology - the
beltcom would make an absolutely superior battlefield tool for all levels of
personnel, from the soldier in the field to the general in his bunker.
Please see the NIST Electronic Books
Site. There will be a conference to discuss the emerging technologies of
"electronic books" which is essentially the same as beltcom.
Here's an interesting little page from the Natural Resources Conservation
Service's Information Technology Center: Field Office
Several companies are moving towards true beltcoms. Here they are.
Hardware - please see also technology sources.
- Apple Newton Messagepad.
- AT&T - AirData.
- AT&T Wireless Services.
Technology, Inc has a wonderful product now hitting the market for
around $5,000.00. Please take a look at this, and imagine this concept plus
twenty years of technical advance, and you have the ultimate idea of the
- Cell Computing has a line
of extremely small full-powered Pentium PCs, small enough for Beltcom.
is moving towards deployment of a "PC companion".
- Digital Ocean's Tarpon, very similar to and
compatible with the Apple Newton architecture. They also have the mobile
www-access tool, the Seahorse.
- Harris Semiconductor is a
leader in Wireless LAN technologies. Please see this
Primer on Wireless LAN.
Harris is partnered with Aironet among
others. Aironet has a very good resource page on Wireless LAN.
- Hewlett-Packard Omnigo
100 Organizer Plus.
- Nokia 9000.
- Northstar CT1000.
This is nice. I want one.
- Parvus Corporation makes scalable
PC104 embedded solutions boards that are ideal for either wearable-computer or
compact automation uses.
- Psion Series 3a.
- Sony Magic Link.
- US Robotics Pilot.
Mobile Assistant II hands-free speech-activated "wearable computer".
Not exactly a beltcom, but certainly on the right track - A Ruggedized IMMARSAT
Portable Office, from GlobeSat,
- UnWired Planet (tm, Unwired
Planet). This is hot stuff folks. They've got the Handheld Device Markup
Language (HDML) and other tools which will rapidly deploy beltcoms into
almost every pocket in America where there is now a cellular phone.
- Take a look at the UnWired Planet
Partners! This could be huge.
For background, please see FCC SuperNet.
- GTE Wireless Data Services
and their Wireless Packet
Data Service Markets.
- Kiva Network is
"un-wiring" downtown Bloomington, Indiana.
- NorTel. They've got a
large variety of modes and protocols deployed and operational, so jumping
into Supernet and beltcom mode should be no problem.
- Ricochet. Allied with Metricom.
Internetworking Connectivity - Hardwiring to the Net
The entire concept of the beltcom revolves around the modularity and
incremental structures of the Supernet-Local-Loop (infranet, tm), the
FiberOptic Local-Loop (LAN and intranet), and various repeater, long-lines
and satellite-link technologies (WAN and InterNet). Each beltcom will have a
certain amount of peer-to-peer linkage capability, but most users will
access networks rather than other beltcoms. The beltcom will probably be
initially deployed as a walk-around command, control and display link to
local LAN, with deskterm (tm) providing execution-space and agent-space,
firewalling and intra/internet connectivity through FiberOptic Local-Loop
LAN-to-WAN bridges, routers and switches. Here are some of the cutting edge
developers of that technology.
R & D for Naval highspeed VLSI asynchronous and low-power
communications. They may develop the technology that allows interdevice
local-area backboning in wireless mode.
- BroadBand Technologies,
Inc. Take a look at their FLX system, which allows 51Mbps downstream and
- Hybrid Networks, Inc. has a very
nice series of remote-link wireless modems to serve your Wireless-LAN/WAN
needs! They also make points-of-presence (POPs), etc. They can probably
provide a total solution for your corporate wireless-to-wired-to-wireless
- Lucent Communicatioon.
Open Standards Development and Implimentation
Open Standards are
essential for the proper development and deployment of the beltcom. Wherever
possible, standards should be developed which are platform neutral,
architecture-neutral, and in the case of raw or semi-processed data, it is
absolutely essential that there be open
standards which are also operating-system-neutral.
- NetCDF - Common
Data Format, and cites to related subject matter, assorted applications,
and other fun things.
Communications and Interactivity Standards
- Society for Information
- X is
being transferred to the Open Group.
Please hit your browser's "back" button to return to the story, or -
- Find out how the beltcom (and other technologies) might affect people
and their lives and the world in which they live those lives. Please read In the Fall: Part One.
- Go to the Business MetaIndex Page.
- Visit the Earth Operations Central District Office.
- Go back the the EarthOps Homepage.