You could soon be able to remotely control your PC using your mobile phone thanks to new software from Toshiba.
The software, called Ubiquitous Viewer, is installed on the mobile phone and on a client computer running Windows. The software recreates the desktop of a PC or notebook PC on the mobile phone's screen, allowing you to read e-mails and edit documents held on your computer, said Mitsunobu Aoyama, director of Toshiba's software engineering centre.
The Ubiquitous Viewer software can remotely switch on PCs that support the Wake-On-Lan function, a common feature that enables a PC to be switched on when traffic is sent to it across a network, said Nobuo Shimizu, senior specialist at Toshiba's software engineering center.
The mobile's key pad is automatically set by the software so that it becomes a virtual Qwerty keyboard. The mobile phone's cursor pad can mimic the functions of a mouse, and the 1-9 keys can become shortcut, enter, delete, tab and other types of keys found on Qwerty keyboards. Users can also create their own shortcuts and settings, Aoyama said.
Since PC and notebook PC screens typically have XGA resolution, the software captures a portion of the screen and displays this on the mobile phone screen. The virtual screen on the mobile phone can be moved in real time by the user across the virtual desktop, Shimizu said. An algorithm compresses by 97 percent the amount of screen data on the portion of the XGA screen to avoid overloading the wireless network as the information is passed to the mobile phone. The screen is recreated on the mobile phone in QVGA resolution, he said.
At the moment, the software can be used over a Bluetooth short-range wireless connection, or with KDDI's 3G network with mobile phones that use Brew (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) software, Aoyama said. The 3G network offers a maximum speed of 2.4Mbit/s.
Toshiba isn't the first company to offer the ability to connect your phone and PC however, although it is by far the biggest. Start-up Sproqit uses remote control as the basis for a powerful remote mail and calendar service (read our review) and Float's Mobile Agent offers a similar service.
KDDI is Japan's second-biggest phone company. Both NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone have 3G WCDMA networks and phones that use Java, and Toshiba said it is working on a version of Ubiquitous Viewer that works with them.
Toshiba is aiming the software at corporate users. But it has not given a price as yet and while it will be available in Japan in March, it has not given plans to sell the software internationally.