Munchkins for homecontrol

Rohit Khare (
Thu, 5 Jun 1997 11:20:42 -0400

The sw-layer key is embedding web servers in everything (IIOP bigots can go
search for the interface repository to
et-bug.isl while us users consult the handy-dandy HTML form with XML field
comments a la WebMethods).

The hardware key to web servers everywhere is tougher: it's a
price/communications barrier. The $1 munchkin with self-configuration is a
solution. ad-hoc installation is *critical* and can't be done well with IP
technology of today.

Also, everyone up on emWeb, from aragnat systems? Happen to be pioneers on
feature negotiation, too.


PS .Below is from a quick WSJ profile.


emWare Inc. Midvale, Utah; Employees: 10; Founded: May 1996; Key Investors:
Draper Fisher & Jurvetson, Wasatch Venture FundAt a recent Internet
conference in San Diego, dozens of start-ups hawked their wares from
identical-looking PCs. That made it easy to spot emWare Inc., the only
vendor displaying an electric parking gate.
By issuing commands using a standard World Wide Web browser, emWare's chief
executive, Michael D. Nelson, was able to raise and lower the gate's wooden
arm. In another demonstration, he opened and closed an electronic door
EmWare's software promises to turn Web browsers into universal remote
controls for home appliances, office equipment and manufacturing tools. The
company is exploiting the trend of putting computer chips into those
devices to improve their capabilities, as well as technological
developments that make it possible for PCs to communicate with those chips
over telephone lines, radio connections or computer networks.
The missing element had been standard software to manage any piece of
hardware. EmWare allows manufacturers to insert the equivalent of a control
panel inside Web browsers, with pictures of their products. "The Internet
becomes the common standard for interconnecting everything," Mr. Nelson
The dream isn't altogether new. EmWare's co-founder and president, Chris
Sontag, helped lead a now-defunct effort at Novell Inc. to turn software
developed by that company into a universal control language. He concluded
that the Web format was more flexible, working on any computer at a much
lower cost. He helped write tiny Web-based programs that run on cheap
microcontroller chips and consume a minuscule 750 bytes of memory. EmWare
hopes to populate the world with the programs, charging a flat fee of $1 or
so per item to manufacturers.
A homeowner, for example, could log on to the Web from work to unlock his
house, an idea Tuscon-based Weiser Lock is looking at. A beverage
distributor might use a wireless or dial-up connection to verify whether
vending machines need to be restocked. J.R. Simplot Co., the Boise-based
agribusiness company, is studying using emWare's technology to fine-tune
the amount of water delivered to farm fields -- from a PC in the farm
house, a regional office or even another country.
EmWare's technology offers several levels of security to prevent hackers
from tampering with devices remotely, Mr. Sontag says, including the
passwords and encryption technologies that are built into most browsers.