Sun Microsystems officially launched its new Jini technology last week, pitching it as an easy-to-use, vital platform for connecting together appliances over home networks and the Internet.
Jini is designed to allow a whole range of electronics devices - from handheld computers and cellular phones to VCRs and dishwashers - to "talk" to each other in a network and share information and resources regardless of their underlying operating system or hardware, Sun officials said.
"Jini is about simplicity and about the age of network services," said Ed Zander, Sun's chief operating officer. "To give anyone, anytime, anywhere, from any device the capability to get a 'Web tone' as reliably and as easily as we get a dial tone. That's what Jini is all about."
Jini will be essentially invisible to users, and should also allow them to easily plug printers, personal computers and other appliances into any type of network without having to know anything about device drivers or system compatibility, Zander said.
Sun announced that 37 hardware and software vendors have agreed to license the Jini source code. They include consumer electronics heavyweights like Sony and Philips Consumer Electronics, office equipment makers such as Xerox and Canon, and computing firms like Novell and IBM.
Source code is downloadable
Sun also said that the finished version of the Jini source code is available on the company's Web site at http://java.sun.com/products/jini/. The software is free for developers to download and use for non-commercial, internal purposes, while commercial users will have to pay a fee, Sun said.
In several demonstrations here involving digital cameras, PDAs (personal digital assistants), a home theatre system and even a dishwasher, Sun officials showed how they think Jini-enabled products can make life a whole lot simpler for consumers and professionals trying to access services over the Internet.
While the products aren't expected to ship until the end of this year, Sun hopes to shore up support and interest in its technology now in order to create the type of industry momentum that will be necessary if its ambitious project is to be successful. In particular, Sun will try to pre-empt interest in Microsoft's Universal Plug and Play technology, which was announced earlier this month and promises similar capabilities to Sun's Jini.