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Xybernaut's Mobile Server/Access Point Debuts

Xybernaut Solutions of Fairfax, Va., a company well known in the circles of "wearable computers" today brought Wi-Fi into that mix with its ServicePoint product. But this "mini-server" piece of hardware is meant to be much more than an on-your-belt access point. The company intends the $1995 (base price) unit to be a jack of all trades for companies and organizations that need instant wireless communications and network storage.

First the specifications: ServicePoint measures about 5.9x3.5x2 inches, weighs about two pounds, and will have the full gamut of connections: PC Card, USB, FireWire, Compact Flash, and Ethernet. Inside the weather-proof case is an 500MHz Intel Mobile Celeron chip, a hard drive (5GB or higher), 256MB RAM, sound card and the Redhat Linux Professional server operating system running it all. It runs off AC power or hot-swappable Lithium-Ion batteries. And according to the company's release, it's ready to communicate with any wireless connection a customer needs, from satellite to cellular to Wi-Fi. Unites are customizable to individual needs.

Company president Steve Newman says ServicePoint product, like all of Xybernaut's products, isn't mean to foist a product roadmap upon customers, but is a solution his customers requested.

"If someone has a current wireless LAN in place, they are likely to have portions that don't work due to dead spots or interferences," says Newman. "This [product] is a remedy for that."

He sees the ServicePoint as the first mobile server capable of instantly deploying as network or hostpot in and of itself, using its own router and firewall features. The product can also act as a WLAN repeater, effectively setting up a mesh to continue a signal that might otherwise drop off. Even in that capacity, it replaces a rack-mount server by providing network-based storage of data. The product will also work with other Xybernaut products, such as "several hundred" of its Atigo handheld/wearable LCD flatpanel units.

The company sees the product serving all sorts of customers, from hotspot venues to enterprises, as well as the military and government who occasionally need to setup a WLAN in the field to facilitate communications. One customer using it is an airline that set the product up to extend the WLAN signal out to the tarmac after planes pull in.

In the future, the company might also let others manufacture versions of the ServicePoint; right now, the current unit is made by IBM to Xybernaut's specifications. The ServicePoint is available directly from Xybernaut.