Toshiba software will remotely control PCs by cellphone

Toshiba has developed software to remotely operate a PC using a mobile phone over a cellular network.

The software will be available in cooperation with one of Japan's cellular networks in late March, a Toshiba executive said in a press conference on Tuesday.

The software, called Ubiquitous Viewer, is installed on the mobile phone and on a client computer running Windows. The software recreates the desktop of a PC or notebook PC on the mobile phone's screen, allowing the user, for example to use the PC via the mobile phone to complete tasks such as reading e-mails and editing documents, said Mitsunobu Aoyama, director of Toshiba's software engineering center.

The Ubiquitous Viewer software can remotely switch on PCs that support the Wake-On-Lan function, a common feature that enables a PC to be switched on when traffic is sent to it across a network, said Nobuo Shimizu, senior specialist at Toshiba's software engineering center.

The mobile phone's key pad is automatically set by the software so that it becomes a virtual QWERTY keyboard. For example, the mobile phone's cursor pad can mimic the functions of a mouse, and the 1-9 keys can become shortcut, enter, delete, tab and other types of keys found on QWERTY keyboards. Users can also create their own shortcuts and settings, Aoyama said.

Since PC and notebook PC screens typically have XGA (1024 pixels by 768 pixels) resolution, the software captures a portion of the screen and displays this on the mobile phone screen. The virtual screen on the mobile phone can be moved in real time by the user across the virtual desktop, Shimizu said. An algorithm compresses by 97 percent the amount of screen data on the portion of the XGA screen to avoid overloading the wireless network as the information is passed to the mobile phone. The screen is recreated on the mobile phone in QVGA resolution (240 pixels by 320 pixels), he said.

At the moment, the software can be used over a Bluetooth short-range wireless connection, or with KDDI's 3G (third-generation) CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) 2000 1XEvDO (evolution data only) network with mobile phones that use Brew (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) software, Aoyama said. The 3G network offers a maximum speed of 2.4M bps (bits per second).

KDDI Corp. is Japan's second-biggest carrier. Both NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone, the Japanese unit of Vodafone Group, have 3G WCDMA (Wideband CDMA) networks, and mobile phones for these networks use Java. Toshiba is working on a version of Ubiquitous Viewer that works on WCDMA networks and with Java-enabled phones, Aoyama said.

Toshiba is aiming the software at corporate users. It did not give a price, or mention plans to sell the software internationally.

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Paul Kallender

IDG News Service
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