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iPic Web Server Aims to Make Toaster-Net a Reality

By SV.internet.com Staff (Send Email)
Posted Aug 16, 1999


Believed to be the world's tiniest implementation of a TCP/IP stack and a HTTP web-server the iPic Web Server is a complete micro-computer on a single chip. And at less than $1, it seems poised to get your next toaster talking to you through the internet.

Using very carefully hand-packed TCP/IP code of about 256 bytes and a HTTP 1.0 compliant web-server, the chip communicates directly through an Internet router running at 115200bps. At that rate it should be able to serve about 7200 hits per hour. Files running on the microcomputer now include text and HTML files, JPEG images, and even small Java applets. The chip is accessible through the internet here, but because the serial link is usually up to capacity, the files are also mirrored here. Believed to be the world's tiniest implementation of a TCP/IP stack and a HTTP web-server the iPic Web Server is a complete micro-computer on a single chip. And at less than $1, it seems poised to get your next toaster talking to you through the internet.

Coupled with a small chip for memory and a battery, the whole package could be as small as a pack of gum and be used to a variety of household, industry and mobile applications.

Appliances that are equipped with the iPic web-server can communicate with any computer in the same house through the mains/power wiring -- you just plug the appliance into its utility power socket, and the control panel of that appliance can now be accessed from your web-browser. Most eerily, once this is all set up, you do not need the computer to control the appliances -- they can communicate with each other through the power wiring and co-ordinate each other's activities.

At the office many industrial computers and devices are equipped with their own remote management facilities. With technology like the iPic they can be connected to common network facilities, instead of using dedicated wires and a dedicated control terminal, for each device or equipment. All these devices, which may include HVAC equipment, climate control in offices and large buildings, lighting and power management, security surveillance and monitoring, process control equipment, and many others can now all be controlled and managed using a unified terminal and with simplified procedures.

The shrinking of the TCP/IP stack into such a small size and low power requirements means that every cellular phone could be equipped with a built in Web-browser, and every pager could become a full-fledged e-mail terminal.

With the iPic, currently under development at the University of Massachusetts, a remote web-enabled computer is now smaller than a quarter, costs less than a dollar and gives practically any device or appliance a very inexpensive connection to a network. Toaster-net could finally be here.

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