SDI Seminar

Speaker: Terri Watson

WITs for WIMPs

Date: January 27, 1994

Abstract: WIT is a system infra-structure for supporting wireless connection of a palmtop to the wired LAN. The goal in developing this system was to create an environment in which to explore issues in mobile computing for small devices. WIT leverages off of Tcl, an interpreted command language developed at Berkeley, to provide an application environment which can be dynamically extended from either the mobile device or wired-network side. Many simple applications can be prototyped interactively, while the system is being run.

The mobile devices in the project are PC palmtops running DOS, specifically HP100lx's. Wireless communication occurs over a 19.2 Kbaud IR link, using hardware and transport level software developed by the Xerox PARC Tab project. Basic windowing and non-preemptive user threads were provided on the palmtop side to support multiple connections and switching between applications. Many top level window and thread functions are exported to applications via Tcl commands.

In my talk I'll describe WIT, discuss various design decisions, and present some of the initial test applications. Murphy's laws (and airport security*) permitting, I'll also demo the system during the talk. I'd like to conclude with an open discussion about directions in mobile computing for hand-held devices.

(* On this trip I expect to be carrying three laptops, three palmtops, one tab, four trancievers, associated paraphernalia, and enough batteries for all of the above!)