Despite the disappointment of the first Newton models and their failure to excite the market, the Personal Digital Assistant concept is far from dead, and AT&T Corp this week launches its PersonaLink on-line service, which uses the Telescript intelligent agent technology developed by General Magic Inc, and can be used from Sony Corp’s Magic Link […]
Despite the disappointment of the first Newton models and their failure to excite the market, the Personal Digital Assistant concept is far from dead, and AT&T Corp this week launches its PersonaLink on-line service, which uses the Telescript intelligent agent technology developed by General Magic Inc, and can be used from Sony Corp’s Magic Link hand-held device, which runs the other half of General Magic’s two-pronged offering, the Magic Cap operating system, which is designed to make programming agents easy. Agents are intended to be able to sift through junk mail to find anything important, and eventually do things like finding the cheapest laptop computer available to a given specification, or finding a package holiday that meets the despatcher’s parameters. And on-line vendors of goods and services will be able to create agents to track who is buying what so that they can make targeted pitches. Watching-and-notifying agents, which will be able to spot events like a share price hitting a pre-set level, will be available in six to 12 months, General Magic says, as will agents that can search across many databases, their key feature being a virus-like ability to move from machine to machine and return home with the information requested. For the first six months, users will be offered all the messages they want to send for $10 a month. In its initial incarnation, PersonaLink is a TCP/IP-based network that gives users access to services such as America Online, Prodigy, Lexis-Nexis and the Internet, with a gateway connection to AT&T’s EasyLink Services. There is no radio link in the Sony Magic Link, but when Motorola Inc ships its Envoy handheld device later this year, PersonaLink will provide users with wireless access over the Ardis network using Motorola’s Network Integration technology according to PC Week. Telescript is to be converted to run under Windows and Mac OS with the Magic Cap user interface. The Magic Link lists for $950 and includes modem, loudspeaker, microphone, 1Mb memory, 3Mb ROM, PCMCIA Type II socket and high-speed communications port. The processor is the Motorola 68349 or Dragon I. Meantime Apple Computer Inc’s Newton will get a second face-lift shortly: code-named Gelato according to Computerworld. Gelato will use a new version of the ARM 610 processor and feature an improved display, and the operating system will be upgradable in ROM. And as well as the Envoy, Motorola Inc is also planning to introduce a Gecko handheld running the Newton operating system. It is said to open up to show a liquid crystal diode screen with built-in digitiser on one side and an Ardis radio modem and antenna on the other and to weigh less than 1 lb. Meantime Palm Computing Inc, Los Altos has a new approach to handwriting recognition: with its Graffiti system, instead of the machine learning to read your handwriting, you have to learn to write in a manner it can understand, letter by letter. Almost all the 83 shapes in Graffiti’s character set are formed by single strokes, and it will be available for the Newton and Casio Computer Co Zoomer at $80.