Red-M opens Bluetooth to Palm developers

The drive to bring Bluetooth-based wireless link capabilities to handhelds based on Palm Inc.'s operating system moved forward Tuesday when wireless software and hardware vendor Red-M Communications Ltd. introduced two Bluetooth software development kits for Palm OS.

The development kits are designed to help developers quickly and easily write and test applications for the popular handheld computer operating system. Bluetooth is designed primarily for low-speed wireless communications among devices in a small area such as a cubicle or a car's interior or among devices a user might carry around. The combination of Bluetooth and Palm devices could allow handhelds to be used more easily with other devices, performing functions such as printing files from the handheld or wirelessly synchronizing the device with a PC.

However, users anxious to use Bluetooth on some Palm OS devices will have to wait a little longer than they might have hoped. A company official confirmed last week that Palm's delivery of a Bluetooth Secure Digital expansion module for use in its newer handhelds would be delayed until early next year. The module had originally been scheduled to become available before the end of this year.

But third-party vendors, including Englewood, Colo.-based Red-M and Tokyo-based TDK Corp., are already shipping Bluetooth accessories for Palm V and Vx handhelds using a "sled" design that snaps onto the bottom of the handheld.

Red-M on Tuesday began shipping the Red-M Blade Dev-kit equipped with Red-M's Palm OS emulator cable, which lets developers write software on a PC using Palm OS emulation software while remaining connected to a Bluetooth-compliant device for software-testing purposes. It also made available a network version of the development kit that includes the Red-M 1050AP LAN access point. The access point lets developers easily create a Bluetooth wireless LAN environment on which to test applications, according to a Red-M statement.

Each development kit is priced at $199.

Additional reporting by James Niccolai.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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