Smallest Web server fits in shirt pocket

A Stanford University professor has created what is believed to be the world's smallest Web server, the size of match-box, which was designed to ultimately be worn by a user.

Using off-the-shelf hardware and software, computer science professor Vaughan Pratt invented a Web server measuring less than 1.75 inches high, 2.75 inches wide and .25 inches thick.

The tiny Web server consists of an AMD 486-SX computer that has a 66MHz central processing unit, 16MB RAM and 16MB ROM. The server connects to the Internet through a parallel port and runs a simplified version of Linux, according to a Stanford News Service statement.

The Web server can be wired into the power supply of a desktop computer or driven by battery, said David Salisbury of the Stanford News Service. The university does not have plans to produce or market the server for commercial use, he said.

The Web server is powering a Web page that contains a picture and description of the computer and provides instructions on how the matchbox-sized computer was built. The page, which debuted January 22, received over 80,000 hits by the month's end. The page is at http://wearables.stanford.edu/.

The Web server can be carried inside a shirt pocket and hooked into a wireless modem, Pratt said. Plugging the server into special glasses that double as a computer display allows the user to monitor the server.

"There is an informal community of researchers working in this area, where the idea is basically that if computers continue to become more indispensable and smaller, sooner or later it makes better sense to wear them (computers) than carry around them around," Salisbury said.

Wearable Web servers can provide users with real-time information such as how frequently a Web page is accessed and if there are technical difficulties to accessing the page, as well as provide the ability to update Web page content remotely, said Salisbury.

There is significant potential for wearable computers in the future, according to Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group. "This class of product will expand as people reach a point when they are almost always connected."

"Having a portable, personal Web device opens the door to a number possibilities, such as sharing and updating all kinds of information, in real-time," Enderle said.

Wearable computers will emerge in the market over the next two to three years as wireless technologies become more pervasive, he said.

The Web server is one of the first projects undertaken by Stanford's Wearables Lab, established within the last year by Platt. The lab develops computer technology that can be incorporated directly into clothing.

The Wearables Lab is now working on a future version of the server, which will be based on the Intel Pentium chipset, Stanford said in its statement. The group plans to combine a credit-card size Pentium motherboard, introduced last quarter by Cell Computing, with a 340MB hard drive from IBM that measures a fraction of an inch thick and less than 2 inches on a side.

The next version will be capable of running the complete Windows operating system and a voice-recognition program, said Pratt.

The lab is also working to develop a special glove that recognises a digital sign language, called Thumbcode, which is intended to replace a computer keyboard.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Cheri Paquet

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?