Hewlett Packard said last Tuesday it plans to make the source code for its espeak technology available to developers in early December.
The company also announced it was working with Ericsson and Telia on a joint pilot programme to run wireless access protocol (Wap) based mobile internet eservices on its espeak platform.
HP defines an 'eservice' as an "asset you can make available by the net", but acknowledged it is not the only company in the market and that its eservices initiative require a broad scope of partners.
Rajiv Gupta, general manager of HP's open service operations and lead architect of espeak technology, said: "HP is providing the technology for creating a new breed of intelligent services and appliances. We aim to make it possible for requests for services to be automatically brokered, bid for and transacted on the net."
As a result, the company plans to make its espeak source code available at www.e-speak.net on 8 December which will enable programmers to sign up for its espeak developer's programme.
This will provide them with tools, a network of other developers to communicate with, a technical webcast series, a newsgroup, discussion groups and an Ask the Architect discussion forum.
Gupta said the developer site would also be linked to the espeak open source site.
At the same time, HP also launched a pilot project, which is scheduled to go live by the middle of next year, to create a dispatching service for businesses. Telia will deploy espeak in its mobile network, while Ericsson will provide Wap based packages, application development skills and Wap enabled terminals.
When the project is completed, the firms plan to launch a series of espeak enabled wireless eservices, an automated scheduling service and a corporate directory service.
Jean Bozman, an analyst at IDC, said HP did not take full advantage of the internet first of all and it wants to make sure it doesn't make that mistake again. "Eservices is a way to organise what it has not done to fit with the trend," she said.
- HP launches book-sized ePC devices
Hewlett Packard recently launched a family of ePC Windows-based desktop devices which are smaller than traditional boxes and do not have slots for connecting peripherals.
Although they have not yet been given a brand name, the boxes are due to ship in the first quarter of 2000, are about as large as a dictionary, have a colourful design and can run Microsoft Windows 98, NT and 2000 operating systems.
Eric Cador, general manager of HP's worldwide business desktop division, said the devices were not intended to replace traditional computers, but could be useful to organisations such as banks, insurance companies and airlines that have a large number of transactions to process and high infrastructure costs.
"The idea is to take advantage of a company's existing PC infrastructure such as cabling, network or printers that are already in place, yet offer business users easier use and maintenance. There is no ISA, no PCI and no bells and whistles that most business users don't care about," he said.
Cador added the devices would cost equal to or a bit less than a PC, but TCO would be lower.
It may, in the future, also provide services such as content browsing, application rental and online transaction processing.
Roger Kay, a research manager at research firm IDC, said: "Corporate customers are ready for simple desktop computing platforms that deliver PC architecture and application compatibility with the reliability of consumer electronic devices." Other suppliers working on similar small PCs include Dell and Compaq.
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