Transvirtual gets $4.0M, launches XOE device platform

eXtensible Operating Environment integrates XML with company's Kaffe Java Virtual Machine.

Transvirtual Technologies Inc. last week offered a sneak preview at its new Java/XML-based information appliance software platform, called eXtensible Operating Environment (XOE).

XOE (pronounced "zo' ee") integrates XML with the company's Kaffe Java Virtual Machine (JVM). The result, according to Transvirtual executives, "is a fast, cheap, and flexible operating environment engineered for small, resource-constrained information appliances such as PDAs, Web-enabled mobile phones, automotive telematics, and TV set-top boxes."

XOE resulted from Transvirtual's work on PocketLinux, a Linux/Java environment based on the company's Kaffe JVM combined with an XML-based GUI.

As indicated in the figure below, the "XOE Client" architecture--which runs on mobile devices or within embedded systems--consists of a three-layer stack that includes XOE library functions, Kaffe, and Linux. The company expects to eventually offer XOE for other embedded operating systems.

According to Transvirtual cofounder and Chief Technology Officer Peter Mehlitz, the XOE Client architecture provides a rich combination of application program interfaces (APIs), including:
  • HTML + JavaScript
  • XML + JavaScript
  • Java Applets
  • native (app, lib)
  • native (driver)
In addition to the XOE Client, a XOE Server function--which runs on a more powerful machine--adds scalability to XOE-powered devices by splitting functionality between the client and the server. The client and server communicate using standard protocols such as XML and SOAP. The architecture of the XOE Server is pictured below.

According to company founder Tim Wilkinson, "XOE is the commercial implementation of PocketLinux." Unlike PocketLinux and the Kaffe VM, XOE will not be offered as completely open source software, but will instead be licensed by Transvirtual to OEMs manufacturing devices. However, Wilkinson says the company plans to release much of XOE to the open source community under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

According to Wilkinson, XOE technology is covered by several patents. "However, all the APIs will be fully published and fully open, so there is nothing to prevent other companies from implementing compatible software," he adds.

In addition to providing an application environment and other services, Transvirtual's XOE package also includes a suite of accessory applications, such as a scheduler, notepad, address book, calculator, and browser.

Tony Fader, Transvirtual's vice president of marketing, explains the advantages of XOE this way: "Basically, Java used to be an applet delivery platform, but it was constrained to the frame that it was delivered in. What we've done with XOE is to expand that frame all the way out to the edge of the device. As a result, instead of developers writing applications to the Java or AWT APIs, we make it possible for them to write in familiar XML, xhtml, and html."

Related stories: