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Case Studies : Buck Rogers Technology Demo

Buck Rogers Customer: Internal
Industry: Wireless PDA
Solution: Demo switching connections between streaming peers

Technical Challenge:

One day in the July of 2002, David Loftesness, president of Blue Mug, posed a challenge to the engineers; could they create a PDA application that takes advantage of multiple network connections? Ideally, the application would involve a media stream that migrates seamlessly from one network connection to another.

Solution:

In typical form, the engineers not only agreed to meet David's challenge, but also raised the bar. Their demo concept, dubbed Buck Rogers, involves multiple touchscreen PDAs connecting to each other via a variety of network connections, e.g. serial/PPP, 802.11b, or Bluetooth. At the press of a button, audio streams from one PDA to others in the network. The connection can be seamlessly switched from one network to another via a hand-off mechanism designed by Blue Mug's engineers.

For example, you can start the demo on two PDAs with wireless 802.11 network cards, start streaming audio, connect the PDAs with a serial cable and yank the 802.11 cards, and the audio stream continues without a glitch!

Doodlebug Theme We also created a Doodlebug application which presents users with a shared whiteboard for exchanging notes and, of course, doodles. Doodlebug uses a custom, themed UI so users are free to express their personal style.

As it turns out, Doodlebug is a wildly popular distraction during business meetings. Blue Mug's engineering team is currently working on ports of Buck Rogers to a variety of PDA platforms.


Goals:

  • Technology Concept: we could seamlessly switch connections while streaming data
  • Performance: we proved that the concept works well, and identified the performance envelope
  • Prove the Team: our engineering team took an idea and ran with it, producing a high-quality demo in only two engineer-weeks.