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PC World

Handheld translator gets palmtops talking


December 7, 1999
Web posted at: 10:53 a.m. EST (1553 GMT)

by David Essex

(IDG) -- What if, the first time you met someone, your personal digital assistant could send your electronic "business card" to that person's mobile phone, without either party needing to do anything? And what if coworkers could leave a meeting with the same freshly entered notes, schedules, and action items transmitted automatically to their PDAs, regardless of the brand or operating system?

Such an era of "hand-to-hand" communication is the vision of SoDeog Technologies (pronounced so-DAY-oag), a tiny North Carolina start-up whose new SyncTalk software translates among formerly incompatible devices.

A beta version of SyncTalk that can transfer contact and appointment information over infrared links is available for download now, and the final version--which will come with added support for tasks and memos--is expected by January. Price hasn't been determined.


SyncTalk initially works with Palm OS 3 and above (for the Palm Pilot III and up), Windows CE 2.0 and above, and Psion's EPOC32 operating system, which debuted on that company's Series 5 handhelds. It will be extended to work with emerging standards for wireless radio communication, including the Wireless Application Protocol and Bluetooth, as they become available.

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With few exceptions, PDAs running different operating systems can't exchange information, says SoDeog President and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Walcott. SyncTalk lets them do so by functioning above the OS level, where it can translate among the languages that PDAs use to store and format information.

Whipping Up Wireless

Along with the exploding popularity of small computing devices have come several well-funded efforts to develop wireless networks that work with the systems' limited processing and battery power.

WAP focuses on the convergence of the Internet and mobile phones, while Bluetooth creates short-distance radio networks for ad hoc workgroups and wireless links to PCs and peripherals.

Their promoters describe an era of "pervasive computing," in which networked computers are always within reach, and will someday, perhaps, let you program your VCR from your car phone, or enable your refrigerator to tell the grocery store that you're low on milk.

But widespread adoption of the necessary wireless standards is still a year or two away, Walcott says.

SyncTalk "is the information exchange platform for the pervasive computing era," Walcott claims.

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