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HP eases communication pain

The company introduces a software protocol that will take a good portion of the pain and guesswork out of sending images from one device to another.

Hewlett Packard (HPW) has introduced a software protocol that will take a good portion of the pain and guesswork out of sending images from one device to another.

Under current technology, the sender generally has to know the imaging formats that a potential recipient on another network can handle. If a mismatch occurs, images can be translated as a series of cryptic symbols at the intended destination. With JetSend, by contrast, two JetSend-embedded devices speak the same language and can negotiate the maze of individual networks to ensure a maximum amount of image integrity. To work, both devices must support JetSend.

"If you're a user and you want to send something, you don't have to know the print driver," said Paula Bursley, industry analyst at Dataquest. "That's one of the big advantages."

A driver is software that allows software to communicate with specific makes of hardware. For example, a specific model of an HP printer requires a specific driver, as do all printers from companies such as Canon and Lexmark.

JetSend will also likely expand the types of devices used for sending or receiving messages, said HP executives. "The first products to incorporate the JetSend protocol will be PCs, printers, and scanners. In the future, we can expect many information appliances, such as electronic whiteboards and PDAs, to work together," said Carolyn Ticknor, vice president of the Laser Solutions Group, in a prepared statement.

Conceivably, with JetSend digital cameras will be able to send images directly to each other, or to a scanner, without first going through a PC.

HP and Microsoft are working to integrate the new software protocol into the Windows environment. Outside the PC arena, Canon will incorporate JetSend into its office products, and Encanto plans to use the technology in its Internet appliances. A appliance developer's kit will come out in September, the company said, which should expand support. Products incorporating JetSend are due in the next six months, Bursley said.

HP has been working on a variety of fronts to make imaging easier, especially on the consumer front. HP and Intel (INTC) last month said they?d work together to promote universal imaging standards. Under the alliance, Intel will support FlashPix, an image file format developed by HP, as well as Universal Serial Bus connectivity for digital still cameras.

HP is licensing the standard for free.

"If it helps them sell more printers and scanners, it's worth it," said Bursley.