Palm delivers Gitex Times to handhelds

Visitors to this year’s Gitex have been receiving the latest show news direct to their handheld devices thanks to Palm and ITP.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  October 16, 2001

Exhibitors, delegates and visitors at this year’s Gitex have been receiving the latest show news direct to their handheld devices thanks to a jointly developed initiative from ITP, the publishers of Gitex Times, and Palm — which has developed a specific application, called PalmTopIA, especially for the event.

Palm has provided a link, through infrared connectors to the Internet, so that by using the infrared port on any Palm operating system device, users are able to synchronise their Palm devices to the Internet on the show floor. During the synchronisation process, a specifically designed link takes users directly to the Gitex Times web site where the pages are reformatted and optimised for the Palm.

“The idea is that people can download all of the pages of Gitex Times online, reformat them for the Palm size screen and then view them offline, in their own time,” explains Stuart Maughan, area manager, MEA, Palm.

“The synchronisation takes place at several places throughout the show, for example on the Palm stand and the ITP stand. Essentially people are able to do it wherever we have the synchronisation cradles,” he adds.

The download can be completed by anyone with a handheld running the Palm operating system, so it includes devices from Handspring and Sony also. Maughan explains that users are able to obtain the application that facilitates the downloading of the Gitex Times pages as they enter the show.

“We are also providing Palm devices to the staff that hand out Gitex Times at the entrances in the morning. They can beam the application to the handhelds of people coming into the show. Once they have the application they can visit the synchronisation cradles and then download the latest news,” he says.

The PalmTopIA application has been developed by local developers at Information Appliances International (IAI) in a matter of weeks. IAI’s Ayad Sleiman likens the application to a banks ATM. “PalmTopIA has been referred to as the ATM of handheld computers, instead of dispensing cash, the server dispenses information to user’s devices via Infrared, Bluetooth, and other emerging RF standards," he says.

Acting as a server-based content dissemination and management software application, PalmTopIA allows IR-to-Ethernet ports and Bluetooth-to-Ethernet ports connect to one hub, under one subnet, to deliver location specific information to user’s devices.

The ability to receive the latest news on a handheld device may seem like a Gitex gimmick, but Maughan explains, the initiative demonstrates much more.

“We have done this to show that people who think that a Palm is just a PIM (Personal Information Management) device are wrong. We are trying to show that it is a much more versatile device for Internet access and can be used in the enterprise,” he says.

Maughan uses the example of an organisation that wants to mobilise its information for the sales force. “This would give them all the latest sales information and give them a competitive advantage as they have the information at their finger tips,” he says.

Sleiman agrees: “this technology can be used anywhere there is a network jack that connects to its own subnet. Thus any corporate intranet and/or the Internet can be used as a source of content to be delivered to multiple locations,” he says. “Different content can be delivered to different nodes based on the location of the node. The uses of PalmTopIA are unlimited, whether it is in retail stores, hospitals, universities, or corporate or government offices.”

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