[FoRK] PARC and ubiquity: The Obje Software Architecture
jbone at place.org
jbone at place.org
Tue Mar 2 09:38:14 PST 2004
Fun, fun. Now where's the agora? ;-)
The Obje™ Software Architecture
The Obje™ software architecture is an interconnection technology that
enables digital devices and services to easily interoperate over both
wired and wireless networks. It provides a simple "meta standard" for
interoperation that enables people to access information and services
from anywhere, in a completely hassle-free, ad hoc manner.
"Thirty years ago, PARC reinvented the software industry with the
notion of object-oriented programming. Today the most famous of
research labs is applying many of the same ideas to mobile hardware,
and the results could be just as revolutionary."
- Cade Metz, PC Magazine
By providing a uniform solution to interoperation, the Obje platform
makes it easier for suppliers to build devices and services that work
together. Putting assembly control into the hands of end-users also
reduces the burden of developing applications, because particular
customization can be performed in context.
The Obje platform works with all standards, including those that have
not yet been defined. It requires no central coordination,
pre-configuring, or special set-up, and can be easily used by people
with no technical expertise.
It provides users a way to combine devices to build simple solutions
for hundreds of problems – easily assembling their particular
applications from available devices and services. It offers
manufacturers a simple, fast, and timely solution to the increasing
requirement to connect products.
The Obje platform works with devices of all kinds – including cell
phones, computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), printers,
set-top boxes, bar-code scanners, video displays, and others – from any
How it works
Typically, communication among devices or services is structured into
layers of protocols. Agreement on all layers is required before the
devices and services are built. Developing and gaining acceptance of
these agreements is a long, costly process that depends on broad
The Obje Interoperability Platform builds upon other industry
standards. For example, it can run on top of any mobile code mechanism,
such as Jini. Pyramid of protocol layers.
Instead of working out all agreements in advance, The Obje platform
specifies a few very general agreements in the form of
domain-independent programmatic "meta-interfaces". These
meta-interfaces use mobile code to allow new agreements to be put in
place at run-time, enabling devices and services to dynamically extend
the capabilities of their clients.
The Obje meta-interfaces reduce the number of agreements that must be
made between communicating entities. All Obje devices or services,
which are called “components,” implement and make use of one or more of
The PARC research team has developed a wide variety of components and
applications that require the architecture to cope with diverse
performance, security, and usability requirements, as well as a variety
of data types.
Applications include a multimedia set top box, a public display system,
and a system called “Casca,” which enables members of a team to share
documents and device resources such as cameras, printers, and speakers.
While Casca was designed to be a collaborative tool, no component
functionality was hardwired into it. For example, Casca was not
specifically written to support video conferencing, but it could
acquire that functionality as soon as members of the group shared
cameras, speakers, and microphones.
These applications demonstrate that the Obje platform supports a wide
range of applications and components.
The Obje platform is a key enabler for PARC’s vision of ubiquitous
computing, in which people are able to connect with the computation
that is all around them, no matter where they are or what type of
device they are using. It overcomes the problem of multiple,
incompatible standards that prevents ubiquitous computing from becoming
PARC is seeking corporate partners interested in leveraging the Obje
platform inside their own products and applications. To learn more,
please contact Hermann Calabria, Business Development, 650-812-4751.
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