Java steps into retail POS

Java steps into retail POS

The Java programming language is no longer confined to the writing of Internet-based applications, said Ted Murguia, group manager, Java Desktop Group at Sun Microsystems. "Java has gone far beyond the Internet," he said. "It is absolutely for internal only, mission-critical applications, no doubt about that."

One such application is point-of-sale (POS) systems for the retail environment, Murguia said. "That is something that is very interesting. Worldwide, most POS systems today are proprietary. Making changes to them is a difficult and slow process."

Murguia noted that this situation runs contrary to the retail industry, which "survives because of its ability to react quickly to markets. Unfortunately, the IT infrastructure does not react as quickly as the marketing guys would like it to," Murguia said.

JavaPOS terminal is a standard designed to deliver portability and lower administration costs to retail application developers, he said. It incorporates additional Java application programming interfaces (APIs) for writing Pure Java programs to access and control POS peripherals.

"So [Java's] 'write once run anywhere' capability is very popular with retailers because they just want to get away from depending on one source to change their applications. Now they can have more consultants who can write the applications for them. So we're very much looking forward to that and we'll have JavaStations as one of the many possible POS devices," Murguia said.

JavaStations are a line of network computers (NCs) from Sun Microsys-tems. As for the network, Murguia believes that non-PC devices will far outnumber the PC devices on the network of the future.

"Your pager, phone, television, all sorts of things will be on the network, and Java plays a part in all these things," he predicted.

Pagers today receive text only but Murguia envisions a time when, through the use of Java, these communication devices can be enhanced to the extent that they become little transaction devices.

"You can incorporate into the pagers some diagnostics to monitor what's going on," he said. "And you can incorporate more intelligent roaming."

According to Murguia, Motorola is one communications vendor which will be implementing embedded Java into its devices.

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