Dev Bytes

Next-generation wireless networking products capable of moving data at speeds up to 54Mbps were among the few technology highlights at the recent Comdex show in Los Vegas, Nev., which was thin on major innovation.

Proxim Inc., Intel Corp., SMC Networks Inc., and others showed their first products to support the IEEE 802.11a (or Wi-Fi5) specification, which significantly outpaces the 11Mbps maximum of today’s 802.11b (or Wi-Fi) networks. Slated to ship by year-end, these products should eventually support streaming multimedia, which generally requires 20Mbps to 25Mbps throughput.

Grid computing gets push from Sun, IBM and Compaq

The grid computing playing field, which already has caught the attention of IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., now has another player: Compaq Computer Corp.

In separate announcements, all three companies recently unveiled news about their grid computing programs, which allow groups of computers to be harnessed together to create large amounts of computing power for research, development and other high-intensity needs. Sun has released a beta version of its new Sun Grid Engine Enterprise Edition 5.3 software, designed to make it easier for computer grids to be linked together within a company. Meanwhile, IBM announced that it’s helping to create a life sciences grid computing system in North Carolina that will be used for genomic research. And Compaq announced the creation of its own grid computing program.

Virtual keyboards let you type in air

Call it air guitar meets computer keyboard. Two firms at the recent Comdex show in Los Vegas, Nev., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Senseboard, are showing off gizmos that attach to your hands and track your finger movements so you can type without a keyboard to input data into a personal digital assistant or other handheld device.

Both products are meant to meet the needs of mobile computer users struggling with cumbersome, tiny, or non-existent keyboards. Senseboard plans to ship its Senseboard keyboard-less keyboard early next year priced at about US$150. The Samsung product, called Scurry, will be available first in Korea and is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in early 2003, priced at about US$50.