Hewlett-Packard is offering a software development kit for its LaserJet printers based on Chai, its Java-lookalike embedded system virtual machine.
The software kit is expected to give application writers a chance to generate applications for printers as if they were another node on the network. A remote printing application, for example, might give a business executive the opportunity to print out a report at the destination to which he is heading, or allow reports to distributed around the world electronically and automatically printed locally.
The LaserJet Chai kit "is enabling a transformation of the always-on Internet infrastructure. It will let developers add service to intelligent devices," said Staci Hartman, HPs product manager. The initial version of the kit is aimed at printers, but HP officials said there is no reason why it cant someday be expanded to additional embedded platforms, including cell phones and handheld computing devices.
Hartman said printer applications could equip LaserJet machines to detect when toner in the printer is low and automatically order fresh cartridges. Applications could call technical support when the printer has ceased to function and allow remote diagnosis. Applications could also log persistent problems with a particular printer and analyze a recurrence, or reconfigure a printer remotely to work with additional users, she said.
Chai is a clean-room version of the Sun Microsystems Java virtual machine. The kit provides a version that is compatible with version 1.1.8 of the Java specification. It includes the Chai Server, an application server for running Chai applets or applications.
The software development kit is available for free download from HPs Developer Network, accessible at http://devnet.hp.com.