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HP floats PC device protocol

JetSend Lite will soon make it easier for a variety of off-the-shelf tools to talk to printers, fax machines, and computer systems.

A series of new developments in a device communications protocol floated to the industry by Hewlett-Packard (HWP) will soon make it easier for a variety of off-the-shelf tools to communicate with printers, fax machines, and computer systems, according to the company.

A new "light" version of the JetSend protocol, due out this summer, will allow communications between devices such as digital cameras and PDAs (personal digital assistant) and printers and scanners. In an intranet setting, for example, a digital camera with work-related photos could communicate directly with a copier to allow copies of the pictures to be made for a presentation.

The JetSend Lite protocol, as it will be called, is also being extended to incorporate infrared capabilities so that users can access printing capabilities by simply pointing their PDA device at the appropriate machine, for example. The "lite" version will only require about 40K to 50K of memory, the company said.

JetSend basically allows a variety of devices such as printers, fax machines, or scanners, among others, to intercommunicate without the need to install a set of specific software drivers or to have intervention from a user. JetSend was announced in July of 1997 and has already won the support of several companies including Microsoft, which plans to integrate the software tool into the Windows operating system.

Other partners will be announced shortly, according to HP executives, adding to a list that already includes Cisco Systems, Panasonic, and Xerox, among others.

HP executives also said they will release capabilities this spring that will let devices exchange information through corporate firewalls, allowing for Net-based faxing using JetSend, for example.