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Inventing the Post-Web World
The O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer and
Web Services Conference

Washington, D.C. -- November 5-8, 2001
Porpoises

Session

Cybiko: Wireless Instant Messaging and Entertainment for the Schoolyard and Beyond

Asim Khan, Cybiko, Inc.
Aleksey Voitovich, Chief RF/P2P Scientist, Cybiko, Inc.

Track: Messaging/Wireless
Date: Monday, November 05
Time: 11:15am - 12:00pm
Location: Thomas Boardroom

One of the classic barriers to wireless communications for people under 18 is the expense of a cellphone and connection time, which parents are loath to pay, given teenagers’ voracious appetite for communication. The solution? A completely peer-to-peer system of cheap ($99) handheld devices that transmit, walkie-talkie style, on cordless phone frequency. Cybikos have a 400-foot range, but signals can hop across one unit – the maximum range is 900 feet if there is an intermediate Cybiko. Up to 99 people can be connected this way, for instant messaging, games (up to 10 people can play together through floors, walls, etc), and file sharing. Your Cybiko displays a list of every other Cybiko in range, the information its owner offers up about himself, and the files that Cybiko has available for sharing. If you see something you like in the cloud, you just grab it out of the air. Additionally, there’s a Wireless Internet Gate (CyWIG) that extends Cybiko’s range to anywhere with a WIGged PC – Cybiko is putting them in shopping malls, for obvious reasons.

So far, hundreds of thousands of high school and junior high kids are having a blast with this. Cybiko has 275 programmers in Russia, China and Taiwan – new apps go up on the web site every day. More importantly for the P2P community, there’s an SDK freely available for the unit – some kid has already coded up a web browser for it.

Beyond gadgetry, there are some interesting lessons here about how mobile P2P works in the real world (not the 20-minutes-into-the-future world of telecom advertisements) with real people, albeit highly motivated ones with lots of time on their hands. How do the packets flow? What are the dynamics of nomadic information exchange? How is the architecture built, given the small footprint of the system (1MB onboard, the kernel is 70K)?


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