Personal Server

While traveling through Queensland recently we ended up discussing the concept of a personal server/network quite in depth - and it left us wondering - where are they and who will be first to market with a fully rounded personal server?

So what is a personal server?

Intel describe it as:

"Smaller than PDA-class devices and without traditional input/output (I/O) capabilities such as a keyboard or display, the ... Personal Server concept prototype links wirelessly to existing infrastructure to provide ubiquitous access to personal information and applications."

I envisage it as:

  • Mass storage - 20gig upwards
  • Bluetooth and Wireless
  • GPS
  • In built web/webdav server
  • USB (or equivalent) port
  • In a pocket size form factor

The basic idea could be described as an iPod with cell phone capabilities, GPS and server built in - but not necessarily with any screen or method of input.

Why? What real use would that be?

A perfect example of the use of a personal server occurred while traveling.

We were armed with two digital cameras, and on an average day we would take anywhere from 50 to 150 photos. At the end of each day we would plug the camera in, download the photos, sort the photos, upload the photos to flicker, tag the photos. Bah! To much already.

At the moment, taking the photo's is the easy part, organising them, cataloging them is tedious.

I want the camera to automatically send the pic - as soon as it is taken - to the personal server via bluetooth, upload it to flickr including GPS data so I don't have to remember where the hell it was taken, include the tag 'holiday' because my calendar says so, include the tags for any other friends in my address book in the immediate vicinity (because it detected their roaming profile via bluetooth).... etc etc... gasp.

Out of the question? Maybe.

Before you rule this out, there are actually several products that are on the market now - or are to be available shortly that provide a glimpse into the possibility of this level of integration.

The most obvious 'mass storage' devices out there are Apples latest round of iPods and are the perfect basis for a portable storage server.

Nikon has only just released the first integrated WiFi Camera, which uploads your images via wireless to a machine as soon as you take the photo. No more swapping of flash memory and downloading images via usb cables.

Axalto have just announced a SIM card for GSM phones that has a built in webserver, allow the phone to serve pages to PC's or other mobiles.

Acers my MyPal A632 and A636 PDAs include Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS in a pocket size device.

Palms LifeDrive has larger storage than the Acer, but also lacks the GPS.

Close, but no cigar

None of the devices above cover all the requirements of the Personal Server, but some do come very close. Three of the products have only become available in the last few weeks, so we may some time to wait to see a more rounded product.
It will be interesting to see which device matures into my ideal personal server - Mobile, PDA or iPod. Hopefully we won't have that long to wait to find out.


This is the personal blog of Adrian Lynch, owner of Millstream, developers of Spring CMS.

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