Over two years ago the Network Systems Laboratory (NSL) achieved a "First in Industry" demonstration of the first wireless netcast, from the Vancouver International Film Festival. Preparing for this occasion had taken several years of gathering the right partners, and knowledge, including Digital HighNote Ultra laptop PCs, Digital's spread-spectrum Roam-About wireless networking, and a great partner from Vancouver—a company named ITV.net. This began the most exciting time of my life at Digital Equipment, working with Hollywood in the Networked Entertainment Business Segment, and realizing that the wireless communication was a big part of the future of the business world. Having done Internet showcases such as the City of Palo Alto, Electronic Elections, Electronic Bookstore (Future Fantasy Bookstore), and the Digital Internet Exchange (PAIX) with big pipes and loads of wires, I felt we were on our way to some very new and exciting times.
In my Nomadic Woman travels around the world as a marketing and sales representative for Research and Advanced Development (RAD), I began to realize that wireless communication for travel and business, and both broadband and wireless communication for the home, are here to stay. There are many different wireless standards such as CDMA, TDMA, and GSM for cellular telephony, along with RF@home and Bluetooth, and of course satellite systems such as Iridium. They are all rapidly integrating for worldwide communication. I firmly believe that we in RAD had better pay close attention when creating new technologies that those technologies "talk to wireless". We do enterprise infrastructure, and we do it well. All the cellular, camera, and related hand-held device companies I have talked with have aggressive plans for new devices. Their product brochures highlight exciting products that are still, in many cases, vaporware. We can assist them in making these products real to the benefit of all companies concerned. We must jump in and be part of the change occurring world-wide.
Some of the exciting things that I have uncovered are voice over IP (VOIP) in Venezuela; an international Compaq office having only a handful of wired phones for executives, with everyone else using cellular phones, with wireless antennas everywhere, no pay phones, and no phones in public locations. The entire ASEAN region is using wireless devices, toys, and anything new they can get their hands on. One of the most disconcerting times of my presentation work has been trying to keep a room of 25 customers from all talking on their cell phones while attempting to teach them about our wonderful technologies. Dr. Brian Reid visited the Avantel (Banamex/MCI) site in Guadalajara, Mexico where we found an extremely advanced facility moving rapidly into the Fibre Exchange business, with everyone using wireless technology.
I have found that the USA is behind in broadband and wireless. We need to catch up. Compaq is extremely aggressive in this technology, and for this reason I have begun to interface with the Consumer and Enterprise groups. We are gathering partners such as Nokia, Ericsson, and Motorola. Were are rapidly attempting to deploy RF Technology for the home, and for the mother traveling around town. We are evaluating Bluetooth and all other technological opportunities to protect our market position.
I am touted to be the "most wired" member of RAD. I am always reachable, day or night, by some means of wireless technology. A cellular telephone is always on my bedside. I do wireless E-mail from bed, from the car, on the train, in airports, hotels, restaurants. It goes without saying that all this fancy wireless stuff has to talk to wires somewhere. I refer to our Palo Alto Internet Exchange as the home from which all this fancy wireless stuff works, and from which Compaq can make a lot of money selling all kinds of exciting devices and services. I travel extensively and realize that we need to change quickly, or all of us will have arms as long as an ape from carrying all our heavy computers, projectors, etc. Just take a look at people in airports. They have carry-on suitcases for quick loading and unloading, large computer bags loaded with folders, along with computers, cables, and networking gear. I began to realize that the stuff I was carrying was over ¼ of my body weight. I tried lifting weights (still do) as my neck and back was killing me. I had to concentrate on moving the computer bag from one shoulder to the other so I didn't become lopsided! On one of my trips some thief swiped my laptop bag in the Dallas Airport, taking all my documents, slides, cables, etc, but didn't get my laptop as it was on my lap! Fooled them! Thank goodness for some luck. On the other hand I almost wished he had taken the laptop so I wouldn't have to carry it any further.
The technology report that follows includes my experience with connectivity beginning with my home 56Kbps line, the addition of wireless Roam-About in my home, and the different hand-held devices which I have tested. I want to thank my Director, Dr. Brian Reid, my Vice President Bob Supnik, all those who have helped me learn and develop with this technology, to make my life much easier. My health and mind are far improved. And I no longer look like an ape in an airport!
Digital Wireless Home and Work Office:
I have been one of the fortunate people who have had fabulous connectivity to my home via a 56K line from Digital for over 3 years. Adding to this wonderful connectivity, I also have the Digital Roam-About technology, which allows me to do things like sit in my backyard in the sun and surf the web or process e-mail. Our laboratory in Palo Alto uses Roam-About also. This allows total freedom of movement throughout our site. What is missing is being able to connect while on the road.
Once you have wireless communication in your life you really begin to depend upon it. I'm a rail rider and cannot sit doing nothing while on the train. Reading the paper and drinking coffee get old very quickly. While searching for a technology that would allow me to utilize this time for work, I found the Ricochet Wireless. I installed it on my laptop and, by using the AltaVista Tunnel software, was able to connect to work during commute time on the train. Connecting took quite a bit of expertise (using the tunnel), and time to connect. The connectivity smoothness on the train was ragged to say the least, and during each of my commutes I would usually have to re-connect 2 – 3 times. I struggled with this for several months, but was never pleased with the performance. Also, the price of the Ricochet per month, and for purchase of the hardware, was expensive and the coverage and overall usage did not justify the expense.
Ericsson Cellular Phone:
I call this a designer phone. It is small, cute, is loaded with features, fits nicely on the waist, and has dramatically improved the ability for everyone to find me at all times. This is very important to a fast-paced marketing consultant, who has been known to spend close to 50% of her time engaging in nomadic activities. It still requires me to carry a laptop, a contact listing, a calendar, a notepad, etc. The down-side of this cellular phone is that it is cute and small, and people seem to steal these phones, or they get left in meeting rooms, bathrooms, etc. The clarity of the phone, the durability of the product and response for repairs by Ericsson is the best I have seen. Ericsson has replaced the telephone for free one time, and when I sat on it and broke off the mouthpiece, they sent it off for repair providing me with a loaner. But, with just a cellular telephone, I still look like an ape in the airport. I do, however, look OK at a party with this designer phone where I probably won't be using other features or functions.
The Palm Pilot was my fist hand-held device other than a cellular phone. I loved it. I awaited the unit with backlighting as otherwise it was not very readable. Even with backlighting in some lights the screen is difficult to read. I quickly loaded it with all my information and technology and headed out. Synchronizing my calendar from home or on the road with my secretary was fantastic. Needing to be reachable all the time, this was mandatory. It ate batteries fairly fast as I needed loads of alarms to keep my schedule organized while on the road. I frequently forgot to buy enough or them, and ran into difficulties in the remote areas of the world acquiring them. I lost the pens constantly and needed to carry a large supply with me.. Fast paced nomad's lose things like this. I still had to carry a cellular phone and a laptop when traveling. Learning Graffiti wasn't very interesting to me, but I get a passing grade on learning it. My nomadic weight was increased. I found I was using it mostly for contact information, and could do that with my little black book, which weighed much less. I still had to carry a laptop, etc., so looked like an ape in an airport!
Sarah Baker and David Jefferson are also testing the Palm Pilot and will be adding their findings to this document.
The first merging of the Palm Pilot and the Qualcom Phone doesn't work. Somebody forgot to bring an ergonomics expert in! Just try writing Graffiti or picking at the tiny keyboard without breaking all the electronics off the telephone opening flap. And, all the electronics are in this flap, plus the telephone keypad. Instead of opening from the bottom up to clear way for the Pilot Pad, they did it upside down. Whoops! The people at Qualcom PCS98 in Florida didn't like me very much, but their design is wrong.
I found the Cassiopia to be much better than the Palm Pilot. I can be in a meeting and record a short message to work with later. The voice recording is not bad; it does not sound like a parrot on playback. I can read the screen more easily than that of the Palm Pilot. The functions are more user friendly. It runs an abbreviated version WinCE that looks very much like my laptop and desktop operating systems. Synchronization works great. It eats batteries much faster than the Palm Pilot due the added features such as voice recording, and is slightly lighter in weight than the Palm Pilot. The hand-writing recognition is much better; it doesn't require learning Graffiti. It is about the same price as the Palm Pilot. I haven't traveled with the Cassiopia yet, but, since I would still have to carry everything else I will still look like an ape in the airport!
Digital Cameras and Cellular Phones:
For some time I have wanted a single hand-held object to carry on trips. I kept hoping that some clever company would merge camera technology with cellular technology. I own an ELF small APS Camera. It was just another device I had to carry. I spent hours with camera companies talking about the merging of telephone, Internet, contacts and other technologies to their cameras. I met with Flashpoint (Apple's old digital camera group). The outcome of these meetings clearly shows that there is a major war between cellular and camera companies. Neither will allow their functionality to become part of the other. My research uncovered an attempt by Nokia with their 9000iL communicator, and Cassio with their digital camera, utilizing IR to join their technologies. This wasn't much of an improvement, because I still had to carry the Nokia communicator and the Cassio camera plus all my other devices. I still looked like an ape in an airport!
Nokia 9000iL Communicator:
Now things began to get interesting and exciting. Finally a computer, cellular phone, pager, voicemail, calendar, contacts, fax Internet, e-mail all in one hand-held device. There had to be some problem with the communicator, and it didn't take me long to discover what it was. The form factor was too small for a man. However, it works fine for a woman. I lived with my Communicator. I never left home without it. It accompanied me to all meetings, where I took notes with it. I traveled with only it and my laptop. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven, but soon I realized there were problems with it. It was too big to fit into my purse, pocket, or hang on my waist. The phone keypad was on the reverse side of the speaker you talk into, so when talking and holding the phone, I frequently squeezed too hard and pushed numbers interrupting my call. The operating system was something Nokia dreamed up. It worked neat except that synchronization demanded re-configuration of the laptop or desktop. The infrared was shaky and needed improvement. The only search tool was via the Web. I wanted a search button on the keyboard And, last but not least, the unit was heavy.
I discovered something interesting when my Communicator stopped working abruptly. The process by which I got it working again really taught me something. I no longer thought of the Communicator as a telephone. I thought of it as an Internet computer. PacBell PCS was the telephone company, and of course Nokia the hardware company. If I had thought of the Communicator as a cellular telephone, I would have called PacBell first; but because I thought of the Communicator as an Internet computer, the first place I called to blame was Earthlink my ISP. They assured me everything was perfect and it must be a hardware problem. So I called Nokia. Same thing! Nokia assured me all settings and hardware were perfect. The very last place I called was PacBell who told me they had cut the service for non-payment. (Don't ask who's fault!)
The Nokia Communicator was sold only through PacBell in the USA. The PacBell PCS Digital service/coverage was terrible, and I frequently couldn't connect to the Internet via the telephone service. Nokia has created other distribution channels in the USA. PacBell sold Compaq the Communicator and basically didn't want to talk to any of us after that. A two color flyer was enclosed with the Communicator proclaiming full assistance by PacBell in getting it Internetized. It was a very good thing that I knew about this technology. A normal cellular phone user purchasing a Nokia Communicator from PacBell would have spent $800.00 for a useless tool. Nokia has assured me that they are making many other arrangements for sales and distribution for their new product lines. They are about to cancel their relationship with PacBell.
Nokia has the opportunity to lead the industry if they hurry. They claim that within 3 – 4 months they will have the next version Communicator running WinCE or a greatly improved version of their existing operating system. It will be half the weight of the existing 9000iL. They claim to have made arrangements with big content companies and will be providing video and full color on their new Communicator. They are planning to come out by mid-'99 with many hand-held devices, each with a different business/pleasure thrust: an entertainment device, an e-commerce device, an education device, etc. They are interested in partnering with Compaq. If they can really do what they say, I will leave home with only the Nokia 9000iL. I will no longer look like an ape in the airport; I will only have to travel with a somewhat larger purse!
Nokia has partnered with HP for a small hand-held scanner. It's light weight with a 4-inch wide scanning area, and allows scanning of business cards, newspaper articles, and such. Once documents are scanned, IR technology is used to transfer pictures/text to the Nokia Communicator. This Scanner is great for traveling and meetings where you want to scan a business card or article quickly. The problems with it are fairly serious. In order to scan a document you need to push a button on the back of the device while squeezing the device and pulling it forward across the document. When you perform this task you end up pressing other function buttons on the front of the device, one which just happens to turn the device OFF. And, it doesn't scan color.
My opinion after spending a short time with the REX was that it would be just another job for me, as I would have to load it with my trip material prior to heading out. And, it wouldn't in any way hold the type of content that I required. I would still have to carry all the other items, so I would still look like an ape in the airport! For an additional test of this device, I asked our administrator, Barbara Hussein to test the Rex. Barbara and her husband run a small business out of their home. Following are their findings and reports on the technology.
My husband and I were very eager to try this new device. On 11/7/98 we started the installation process and found it very easy and uncomplicated. Sometimes in installing a new program we ignore the manual and start pointing and clicking to see what we can find on our own, usually because the manuals are so bogged down and complicated. This was not the case this time. The Rex manual is very easy to follow. We did have one problem regarding the Password entry. My husband started hitting the buttons not knowing he was entering a special code. He tried resetting. This did not work and he finally had to remove the batteries from the REX Pro card to do so. We have not reached the point where this device is useful yet and we are still working with it.
Motorola PageWriter 2000:
Motorola is providing several of their latest PageWriters to RAD and Consumer Products Groups. The device is a two-way pager combined with voice/vibration/e-mail. Typing is fairly simple and done with the Thumbs. The Directors of Network Systems Laboratory and Systems Research Center have tested their units, and have found them to be very useful, well designed, and very useful. Our building Tech-Ops staff has one unit, and have reported that they plan to purchase one for each of their members. A few problems exist around lack of password control, quality of packaging, and the fact that the device has to be opened prior to viewing new message. The units for the Consumer Products Group will be delivered next week . The units are provided permanently to Compaq. Motorola requests feedback for improvements and usage.
Compaq C Series 2010C:
I should have this small form factor Compaq computer in a week or so and will be posting my findings. I saw it at Comdex in conjunction with the InFocus projectors (in InFocus booth). InFocus told me that it was the highlight technology merging in their booth. It runs WinCE and with a tiny cord connects to the InFocus projector so one can project color slides – apparently with no limit. I think I would prefer to carry the Nokia 9000il Communicator (if it could project slides) because it is also a telephone. A price comparison is that the Communicator sold for $800.00 and the Compaq C Series 2010C price is $888.00 US (external pricing). Nokia suggests that the price will drop to somewhere between $300.00 and $400.00 US. I couldn't find anything else quite like the Compaq C Series or the Communicator at the show. The Compaq C Series screen is great and the keyboard is big enough to type on. It still doesn't fit in a purse, but is nice and light to carry. I wouldn't look like an ape in the airport with either of them.
IRIDIUM/MOTOROLA SATELLITE PHONE:
The Satellite phone is remarkable. I had the occasion of traveling to Las Alamos, NM. While standing on a very high mountain (10,000 ft) I called Asia, Australia and Palo Alto. On each call, the voice of the individual receiving the call, was as though we were all in the same room speaking. There is only a slight delay as the Satellite moves. The phone has voice-mail, and text mail. The USERS Manual is difficult to understand. It does not flow as one would need to be come familiar with the features from activation to calling. It is organized more as a Text Book by categories that some professor thought was the right way to do it. It still only took me 1 hr to get it working. Motorola ships the Smart Card under separate cover. They activate the card before sending, so if sent with the phone and the phone were lost, the finder could use the phone. The phone does not work without the smart card.
Now if Motorola and Iridium can put everything that the Nokia 9000il has on it, this Nomadic Woman will be leaping for joy. All the way through the Airport!
We have to have small devices with small form factors that fit nicely into small carry-ons, purses, or pockets. They have to be large enough to type without getting finger cramps. They have to be wireless. They have to be a combination of many things such as computer, cellular telephone, address book, calendar, pager, voicemail, fax, spreadsheets, e-mail, Web browser. We need to think about all Compaq hardware software, to make sure that we provide the customer/user with end to end solutions.
Here are my research findings after using several hand-held wireless devices over the last 2 years. I still lift weights, but no longer look like an ape in an airport!
Technology is heading the way of light easy to carry devices without plugs or cords, to weigh or tie people down. Color, design, features, services, and weight are all being considered. We have moved somewhat out of the innovation stage to the implementation/enhancement stage. This was very obvious to me at Comdex this year. However, research groups such RAD can make a tremendous impact on all of our future by concentrating, or better said, by helping with the back-end enabling technologies – enterprise infrastructure. My nomadic life has become so much easier. I can pack quickly. I don't forget half of what I need. I only have to lift weights now and them. And, I no longer look like an ape in an airport. But, eventually, if organizations like RAD do not continue the Innovation process, the fun will end. Handheld devices are toys and toys lose their appreciation very quickly. They need to be refreshed with new ones, not just new dresses for dolls, or longer lasting batteries for robots. We should pay attention to Toys-R-Us, as well as cellular and other connectivity companies. What does the market want, what will make Compaq the most money, and how do we assist in reaching this market before or simultaneously with our competition? With fiber optics, broadband and wireless and satellite, the world will almost be one. This is a dream that I have had since the creation of the World Wide Web. Technology will allow us to reach even the most remote locations, and people, in order to educate, and bring happiness to one and all.Joella Paquette