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Wind River wins nerve gas detector deal

The seller of software for non-PC computing devices is in a deal to have its software used in thousands of weapon detectors commissioned by the U.S. military.

Wind River Systems, a company that sells software for non-PC computing devices, has landed a deal to have its software used in thousands of chemical weapon detectors commissioned by the U.S. military.

The military has ordered 270,000 of the systems, called the Joint Chemical Agent Detector ChemSentry, a spokesman said. The device is smaller than a laptop computer, and more are expected to be sold to civilian customers such as firefighters, the spokesman said. The device can detect chemical weapons including VX, Sarin and mustard gas.

BAE Systems built the detector, which uses Wind River's VxWorks operating system and costs about $2,000. Wind River, which receives revenue from both programming tools and a per-unit royalty, will receive more than $1 million from the military deal.

"Embedded" operating systems for non-PC computers within cars, home furnaces, set-top boxes and cell phones, are increasingly important as computers spread to new corners of the industrialized world. Wind River competitors include embedded specialists such as QNX Software and LynuxWorks, but companies with mainstream operating system experience including Red Hat and Microsoft also are trying. Linux specialists including MontaVista Software also are angling for the market.

The new detector is considerably more compact than the M22 automatic chemical agent alarm in use today.