Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio February
BY Bob Walters
LATEST TECHNOLOGY FORECAST
Expect these cutting-edge devices to make news in the
The past year has seen Bluetooth accepted as
the de facto standard for wireless communication, only to be
followed by critics declaring that Bluetooth missed the boat.
Standards for data formats are being touted loudly, but most
systems still don’t “talk” to each other without reformatting the
data. So what’s in store for the near future?
Two major developments will be the continuing acceptance of the
Microsoft.Net (nicknamed .net, or “dot-net”) initiative and the
expanding use of XML to help diverse applications share data.
.net. Many companies have already embraced the
.net technologies, and some competitors have announced similar
offerings. Basically, .net consists of a new user interface for the
Windows operating system and other Microsoft products that
facilitates interaction with Web-based services. That means
Microsoft is moving from a shrink-wrap product to a subscription
Instead of purchasing the Office programs, you will subscribe to
Office.Net and always have access to documents, spreadsheets, etc.,
wherever you are; you will always be using the latest version of
the software. The drawback? It will cost you a fee, either per use
or per month, to use .net products. The success of this initiative
will depend on whether Microsoft and others can convince software
developers to adopt the concept.
XML. Extensible Markup Language, sometimes
called a “metalanguage,” describes or links other languages.
For XML to succeed, industries need to evolve a standard
dictionary or set of terms describing data elements and data types
that will allow data to be shared easily between diverse systems.
Your back-office applications would be able to share information
with Web-based applications without requiring data conversion.
Initiatives are under way to define these standard dictionaries,
one of which is the APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange), coordinated
by the Convention Industry Council, which is striving to develop
standards for several areas in the meetings industry. For more on
this effort go to www.conventionindustry.org/apex.htm.
On a recent airport stopover, I was able to respond to e-mail,
search college football scores and shop for gifts on a Palm Pilot
with wireless Internet access. Wireless continues to become
ubiquitous; the following are two of the formats coming your way
Wi-Fi (802.11b). Dubbed the “next big thing,”
Wi-Fi is an open-standard technology that enables wireless
connectivity at speeds of up to 11 Mbps about 100 times faster than
other wireless solutions and seven times faster than a typical T1
connection. Unlike Bluetooth, which searches for frequencies, Wi-Fi
runs at a standard wavelength and has been embraced by Microsoft
and Intel. High-speed networks based on the Wi-Fi 802.11b standard
are being installed in businesses, on campuses and in public
places, such as airports and coffee shops.
Bluetooth. Reports of Bluetooth’s demise are
premature. A big plus is that it is “lightweight” it doesn’t
require much energy or bandwidth to work. Bluetooth uses
short-range radio signals to communicate and can work in “noisy”
environments where other wireless devices are competing for
Bluetooth hops frequencies somewhat aggressively, and there are
concerns it could conflict with other wireless devices utilizing
Wi-Fi. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens once these
technologies become more commonplace.Bob
Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the
founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak
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