Roundup: DemoMobile 2002

The most interesting piece of technology at the DemoMobile show had little to do with wireless or even networking.

DemoMobiles theme this year was all about "unwiring the planet," a kowtow to all things wireless, ranging from cell phone technology to complete replacements of 3G networks.

The shows venue, the Hilton Torrey Pines near San Diego, was a bizarre place to host such an event since the only wireless provider with reasonable coverage in the area is Sprint, showing just how fragile even mature technology actually is. Users on Verizon and ATT networks, meanwhile, struggled with patchy coverage and were often reduced to canned demos on-and-off stage.

Then again, Demo is the proving ground of things to come. And cell phone technology is rather boring, even with Sprint showing off the Treo 300 with 3G coverage. The more interesting announcements were all about applications and 802.11-style networking.

Reef Edge had by far the most pertinent announcement. The wireless security company, best known for its ReefEdge Connect Server geared toward enterprise customers, released Dolphin—a software-only solution aimed at the small office/small business space. CEO Ajel Gopal said that medium-size businesses main wireless concern is the security of the network.

At its core, Dolphin provides much of the functionality of the higher-priced Connect Servers for a far lower cost. In fact, its free for non-commercial use. This means that individuals can set up highly secure networks that include authentication, bandwidth management, subnet roaming, and simple policy-based management for no cost. (Licenses for 50-users will start at $2500).

The downside is that Dolphin users will have to use a spare x86 system to set up the Linux-based application. Dolphin also does not provide high availability, fault tolerance, and enterprise-class performance, making it a good fit for small and smaller-size mid-market businesses. Dolphin can be downloaded here.

Newbury Networks, meanwhile, says its LocaleServer is the first location-enabled network provisioning and monitoring tool. Simplistically speaking, LocaleServer analyzes and models 802.11 signals and maps them on a pre-defined grid. This allows IT administrators to provision the network or better yet, push down location-sensitive content to network users. The location-based data can be sent directly to users on the network through another Newbury product—the Digital Concierge-Docent.

Its tough to see a market for location-based 802.11 push technology. After all, 802.11 networks are generally limited to a 300-foot diameter range, putting almost everyone in more or less the same location anyway. However, Newbury says that because its signal tracking is so effective, new applications will emerge. Those include educational institutions, office floor and shopping mall directional finders, and museums, which have used static AM radio signals or cassette-tape technology to inform people about whats happening in specific exhibits.

LocalServer starts at $20,000 and will be available in October. Digtal Concierge-Docent, available in November, will cost $5000. Newbury also has additional products in the space coming in November.