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Networked Surfaces

Networked Surfaces are a new communications medium, combining the high bandwidth of wired networks with the mobility of wireless networks. Objects such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's) and laptops are simply placed on top of the surface, which might be an office desk or a conference table, in order to acquire a connection

Networked surface

In the picture above we see a mobile phone, a PDA, and a fixed phone. Each of these objects has different requirements, but the surface can provide services for all three, simultaneously.

Telephones (and other normally wired equipment) The telephone, a normally wired device, can be provided with a connection without the use of a wire. This allows freer movement of the handset and makes connection easy.

Mobile Phones (and other battery-powered devices) The mobile phone has a battery, which it needs recharging from time to time, using the surface instead of a wire makes this extremely convenient.

PDA's (and other mobile computers such as laptops) Finally, the PDA can make use of networking through the Surface to synchronise itself with a computer elsewhere, or to download documents for use offline. The PDA also has a battery which also needs recharging.

The project is being undertaken by two research students at the LCE, with advisors at AT&T Labs Cambridge. Prototypes are currently under construction.