AUSTIN, Texas Motorola Inc.'s Semiconductor Products Sector is launching a development program for Java-enabled Internet phones, with the aid of Sun Microsystems Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) and telephony software specialist AudeSi Technologies Inc. (Calgary, Alberta).
The program will use a manufacturing kit based on the PowerPC MPC823e processor, utilizing the JavaOS for Consumers 3.0 environment and Sun Personal Applications Suite, as well as the AudeSi Alchemy development environment based on Sun's JavaBeans.
The initial hardware reference design, dubbed Touchstone, relies on V.90 modem ports, but the system is expandable to cover a range of broadband access technologies, and packetized voice as well as analog circuit data. The Touchstone reference design will be offered by AudeSi, though Motorola and Sun will work closely with the Canadian company.
Internet-enabled phones with embedded graphical screen support have garnered new customer interest in the past year, with pilot systems offered by Alcatel and other vendors.
Bill Fleck, business development manager for the Internet Access group at Motorola, said that Java seemed like the ideal development platform on which to build telephony applications using the PowerPC, and Motorola executives got together with Sun in the latter part of 1998 to discuss ways to develop reference platforms. AudeSi, a company formed by ex-Nortel engineers, had worked with Sun on smart-card programs and related projects, and was anxious to apply Java tools to Internet telephony. Sun helped fund the initial hardware effort.
Terry Sydoryk, vice president of marketing and sales at AudeSi, said that the addition of the Sun PAS, which includes functions such as e-mail, browser, and organizer, makes the Touchstone reference platform "a true third-generation design." The software stack with JavaOS at the bottom and PAS at the application layer is what Sun calls a "bottom to top" solution, incorporating Application Programming Interfaces for JavaCards (Java-enabled smart cards) as well as JavaPhone.
Fleck said that the vocoder support on the PowerPC will allow Voice Over IP support to be added to the platform, though packetized voice at broadband speeds may require a move to a faster processor. Still, Fleck added, "V.90 will be the sweet spot of this market for at least the next few months."
The Alchemy environment from AudeSi was used internally by the company to develop earlier products, but the launch of Touchstone represents the first time Alchemy will be offered as a customer development platform. Sydoryk said that AudeSi's emphasis to OEM customers who wish to develop products based on the Touchstone is to keep interfaces as simple as possible, for both residential and emerging vertical-business markets.