3Com CEO touts Palm, phone ties

Benhamou unveils protocol that would allow you to beam your ID into a phone and other devices, so personal communications could follow you anywhere

As if you weren't tethered enough -- what with computers, pagers and cell phones -- 3Com, which makes the popular handheld PalmPilot, has now developed a way for your personal communications to follow you as you travel about.

The company is in the process of testing something called Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP, which will allow users of Palm organisers to register their identity with devices, such as an Internet phone, allowing communications -- such as phone calls -- to follow them.

The announcement underscored a recurring theme in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show, as several companies talked up their plans for networking the array of electronic gadgets that increasingly crowd daily life.

Having your phone calls forwarded to where ever you are is part of a what's being billed as a "more connected life", 3Com CEO president Eric Benhamou said during his keynote speech at the giant exhibition Thursday. "It's a fact that we're living in a more connected life," he said.

Benhamou demonstrated by using a Palm to register his identity on an Internet telephone -- simply by beaming. Palm users can use an infrared port on the device to transfer data to other Palm devices. Benhamou essentially took the phone over as his own. After doing so, he received an "important" phone call. He then used it just as he would use his phone at home or at work, he said, by using the Palm to beam the phone numbers of the people he needed to contact.

"Our vision is called pervasive networking," Benhamou said, citing the networking of billions of computers, the explosion of cellular phone use to over one billion users over the next three years and the growing use of home networks.

3Com's goal is to deliver the glue, in this case technologies ranging from SIP to wireless networking hardware for the home, which makes the more connected life possible.

The SIP is being tested now in labs and should go into field trials later in the year.

For full coverage, see the CES News Special.

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