Remember IBM? They’re the company that used to make operating systems, mainframe computers and notebook computers. I was wondering what they are doing these days since they’ve gotten out of those other businesses and the answer is research. Device independent mobile computing is an idea that has been chased for some time with current solutions being restricted to portable web browsing and email systems that can be contained entirely on a USB flash drive and the web environment taken from PC to PC bringing the user’s settings with them. IBM researchers have taken this to a whole new level with the introduction of the SoulPad, a system that let’s the mobile user take the entire work session with them to any computer and pick up their work where they left off.
SoulPad uses any external USB device to store an entire “virtual computer” that provides the exact same computing environment on any host computer. The significance is in the fact that no special software is needed on the host machine, you just plug in your portable storage device (an iPod is featured in the 14 MB demonstration video) and off you go. The implications of SoulPad for mobile professionals and enterprises is staggering when workers can use any PC without special configuration required.
It uses three separate layers of software – a base operating system that automatically configures the host computer’s various components, a layer of encryption to keep sensitive data secure, and a “virtual machine” containing the user’s portable computing environment, for example, their web browsers, word processing or music software.
(via New Scientist)