On a day where many were expecting Apple’s long-awaited cellphone to launch (don’t think we’ve finished with you yet, Brian Lam!) there is in fact a far more interesting product breaking cover. Agere Systems, primarily known as a semiconductor specialist, launched their BluOnyx Mobile Content Server; SlashGear sat down with them for a pre-CES’07 briefing.
To over-simplify, BluOnyx is a highly compact, portable hard-drive with initial capacities that start from 1GB and max out at 40GB. At approximately 85mm by 54mm it’s the same size as a credit card, and it ranges from 6mm to 15mm in thickness depending on its internal storage. What makes it special is its connectivity and the sharing software Agere have developed. BluOnyx v.1 will have Bluetooth as well as USB and SD options, while v.2 is expected to add WiFi to the mix. Link up wirelessly from your cellphone and, once you’ve paired, BluOnyx’s menu can be browsed remotely as can its stored content.
Agere see BluOnyx as falling into several categories. Most obvious, perhaps, is personal backup – one central repository for all you saved contacts and media, which can be shared between devices and easily loaded on a new cellphone, say, or PDA. They’re also positioning it as a media server; no more worrying about whether your memory card is big enough, since you’ve got up to 40gb sat in your purse or pocket. Music and video can be streamed directly to your cellphone or PMP, or to any other device you – or your friends – have on them.
In other words, think peer-to-peer short-range media broadcast. BluOnyx is capable of streaming content via Bluetooth (or WiFi come v.2) to multiple devices simultaneously. They’ve even figured out a smart name for it: Digital Campfire. You and your friends sat together, sharing photos, video and more with BluOnyx as hub. On a PC or across a network it’ll show up as just another drive letter. Straightforward access management options, established on-the-fly via your cellphone, means that different friends can have access to different content and, assuming you wish it that way, will be recognised in future and given those same privileges. The data you’d prefer kept private can be locked up behind layers of authentication and encryption, and with a 12 hour battery life there’s plenty of time between recharges.
Agere are positioning themselves as an OEM partner, working with brand owners to deliver customised versions of BluOnyx tailored to their market segment. Think about Nokia’s Lifeblog service, an online media portal linked directly to your cellphone, but with local storage: Nokia Lifestore, perhaps. They’re also promising that BluOnyx will be an open platform, with plenty of scope for customised applications written by OEMs, third-parties and end users through their released API. That could lead to anything from carrier-specific cellphone menus to alternative P2P and backup systems.
With an expected retail price range of $99 to $250 (depending on capacity) and estimated shipping time of Summer/Christmas 2007, Agere are still putting the finishing touches to BluOnyx. And that’s where you come in: SlashGear has been told in no uncertain terms that Agere are hungry for pre-shipping feedback. Think something is missing? Want to make sure certain functionality is possible? Then drop them a line and let them know, or leave a comment here on SlashGear; we’ll make sure it gets to them.