Orange's enterprise customers will be able to get wireless external storage for their mobile devices from this summer, following a tie-up with hard drive manufacturer Seagate.
The DAVE (Digital Audio Video Experience) platform, first announced by Seagate at the end of January, is a small, slimline unit that will ultimately be able to hold up to 60GB of data. It will stream data to a mobile device via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or USB.
At the 3GSM World Congress this week, the two companies announced that Orange would be bringing out DAVE to provide a "vital mobile data backup option" for professional users, with a particular emphasis on security.
"They wanted to separate the data from the handset," Seagate's director of global consumer electronic markets, Rob Pait, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. Pait explained that data would be more likely to be stolen if it was in a handset itself, rather than kept nearby in a bag or briefcase.
DAVE is still in its prototype phase, and currently only offers 10GB of storage. Pait said Seagate was still working on the security of the unit's USB connection, while its Bluetooth and Wi-Fi features were already secured through passwords and the fact that users can only pair the unit wirelessly with one device at a time.
Data held on the unit is private by default, although the idea is to make DAVE capable of recognising other DAVE units which are near it. This opens up the possibility of peer-to-peer social-networking applications, and the public sharing of certain data.
DAVE incorporates a technology called Freefall Protection. It uses an onboard accelerometer to judge if the unit is being dropped, which allows it to ensure that the drive heads are lifted away from the hard disk prior to impact, reducing the chance of damage.
Asked if Seagate might consider using flash technology instead of a hard disk for greater robustness, Pait remarked that users "can't get the kind of capacity that people want for video from flash technology".
Apart from enterprise users, Seagate sees a great potential demand for DAVE in terms of allowing consumer mobile devices — such as phones and media players — to be made smaller, as data capacity would no longer be a manufacturing concern.
Seagate will also be offering Symbian users compatability with DAVE. It announced on Tuesday that it has joined the Symbian Platinum partnership programme — a partnership that Seagate claims will bring "seamless interoperability" between DAVE and devices running the third edition of Series 60 and the UIQ 3 platform.