Suns New Software Directions: RFID, Games, 3-D

Sun execs on Tuesday showcased some of the company's software technologies, including a forthcoming RFID solution, 3-D applications, migration tools, and virtualization capabilities for Solaris.

MENLO PARK, Calif.—Sun Microsystems Inc. is hard at work on providing an end-to-end radio frequency identification (RFID) solution for major retailers like Wal-Mart and its suppliers.

Juan Carlos Soto, the director of advanced development in the office of Suns chief technology officer, told reporters attending Suns Software Day here on Tuesday that innovation was Suns DNA and that one of the many advanced technology projects his team was working on was the RFID Network, which stretched from tags to readers to RFID middleware, to integration, applications and the B2B scenario. At the event, Sun software executives also offered a glimpses into several other Sun initiatives, from Solaris 10 to new 3-D interfaces, as well as the companys Linux strategy.

According to Soto, RFID technology was now becoming inexpensive and vendors like Sun had a mandate from large retailers like Wal-Mart, which estimates that automating the receipts of its supplier goods into its warehouse could save it $ 6billion to $8 billion, he said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifSun announced its Auto-ID group in the fall. Click here to read more about the companys RFID vision.

Suns current RFID offering included hardware, software, services and test centers, the first of which would be launched in Dallas, Texas in early May. These centers would allow customers to verify that their RFID solutions would work with retailers like Wal-Mart. A similar test center was also planned for Scotland, Soto said.

Suns solution was designed for scalability, manageability and failover, he said. The company was also helping drive industry standards, and it was incorporating its own real-world experience into the solution.

"But these are hard things to get right and takes a lot of trial and error and experimentation to get it right," Soto cautioned.

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Sun was also active in game technology, with the leading customer there being Wall Street, he quipped, noting that the company was now moving towards consumer-type games.

The total number of game consoles deployed was some 70-million, so "theres a huge volume out there." A lot of games were being written in Java, as were the cell phone games that consumers played today, he said.

Soto then turned to Project Looking Glass, Suns next generation 3-D desktop, which will allow existing 2-D applications to be run as they are today alongside 3-D applications— all within the same desktop.

"It allows users to move screens around and also take advantage of whats going on behind the screen, like jotting notes on the back of an application or to use more of the screen," Soto said.

"We are in the process of implementing this in a usable way. This is only the beginning of the possibilities for us in this regard. Were enabling compelling 3-D applications to be written while conducting usability studies. This is not necessarily the user interface that will be the final one," he said.

Sun would also consider making Looking Glass available to Gnome, but no final decision had been taken in that regard," he said.

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