DART targets interoperability on every device

New peer-to-peer technology could break down barriers between heterogeneous systems.

Billed as 'Interoperability Done Right', DART software exposes all the software, hardware and content resources of DART-enabled devices, so that they can be shared and used irrespective of compatibility requirements.

Chris Shipley, executive producer of the DEMO Conference, where the technology was announced recently, said: "DART software provides peer-to-peer content access and distribution by effectively turning all devices into one virtual device."

The barriers of mismatched protocols, application versions and file formats are the key hurdles to the success of the networked home according to research firm Ovum. "The online digital content market is still relatively immature, but it is growing fast. As consumers get used to obtaining and keeping their content in this format, any barriers that prevent them from using it in the ways that they wish will result in frustration, and hamper the take-up of certain services, applications and devices. Finding solutions that break down these barriers, even if only to a limited extent, is a must for the whole industry, and will provide the early players who succeed in this area with a unique differentiation over their competitors."

DART claims that DART-enabled applications are "operating system, hardware and communications protocol independent," meaning that you could have your sat-nav access the contacts book of your mobile to route you to a contact for example.

But DART has bigger plans than that. It envisions music, photos, video, calendars, games and more on being shared across mobile phones, PDAs, computers, TV set top boxes, printers, MP3 players and DVRs and "almost all digital devices with 2-way communications capabilities".

It's no mean feat, and the software has to make a multitude of decisions on what the devices communicating are capable of, as well as what content and services are available.

Dan Illowsky, CTO and co-founder, DARTdevices, told us "There are many choices a Dart application can make for how to play content on one device on another". It can copy or stream a file in an either compressed or decompressed format and either encrypted or decrypted depending on the codecs and compression technologies available on the target device.

Not only that, but the software also has to make these decisions in context with the processing power available and the bandwidth of the communications channel.

"The right solution needs to be chosen based on the transcoders available, the source and target formats, the bandwidth of the communications channels, whether the user is willing to wait for background processing before playback can be begin, storage memory available and CPU speed," said Illowsky. "The good thing about Dart is that since everything being exchanged can be general purpose programs which can inspect the details of the hardware and software exposed by the DartPlayer, or teach other devices how to do things like decode media, anything that does not defy the laws of physics will work."

DART also claims to be able to do this securely, and will respect the DRM controls in place on any file or format. DART devices also work on a permission basis, so you can choose which devices you allow to connect to those of your own.

It's also easy to use, claims DART. "With no pre-configured WiFi network and a photo-sharing application only on Nokia N80 (Symbian, ARM,), Dart can spread, install and configure the app on six other devices in eight button presses eg. Motorola IP/TV set-top (Linux, MIPS), Nokia 9500 (Symbian, ARM), HP iPaq Phone (Windows Mobile, Intel PXA270), Palm PDA (PalmOS, ARM), PC (Wintel) and Mac ... so that you can see your photos on the TV, your PDA, your PC etc very quickly and easily - no hooking up endless wires and so on," we were told.

Ubiquity is a paramount to the success of DART, and while it may be relatively easy to update devices such as PCs, getting the software on a set-top box is not as straightforward.

"DART is talking to all major STB manufacturers as ideally all devices would have DART pre-installed. However theoretically DART and DART apps could be transferred to configured STBs without buying from the manufacturer," we were told.

For more information, visit the DART website.

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