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Web Server Packed into RJ45 Connector 448

VinceTronics writes "Electronic Design magazine has a review (.pdf) of the XPort by Lantronix, a product that packs an entire web server into the volume of an RJ45 connector! This includes an 80186 controller, an OS, the TCP/IP stack, a 10/100 Ethernet transceiver, and the LAN interface magnetics. Downside is that the serial interface to the controller tops out at 300 kbps, but for $33 (in 10K quantities) it's a cool, easy way to net-enable just about anything."
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Web Server Packed into RJ45 Connector

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  • mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    by RudeDude ( 672 )
    Just in case: The PDF review doc []
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ultra-Small Server Web-Enables Any System Providing access to a LAN or the Internet, a Web server squeezed in an RJ45 connector shroud packs a full TCP/IP stack and OS. As companies trim labor overheads, they~Rre looking to fill the void with remote diagnostics, maintenance, and data collection. One method is to Web-enable more systems to use the Internet and World Wide Web to collect data and diagnose or control systems. Webenabling typically meant adding a local-area network (LAN) interface, a controlle
  • by tha_mink ( 518151 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:40AM (#5502247)
    I used to have an ear ring that could run seti@home.
    • But does it have OGG support ?
    • Re:No big deal... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RupW ( 515653 )
      I used to have an ear ring that could run seti@home.

      Point is consumer electronics manufacturers can use it to internet enable their devices at very low R&D cost.

      Assuming, that is, they're willing to bump the retail price by $30 - $50.

      Which they won't be. Until there's *serious* demand for this stuff.
      • Wait, if these cost $30 - $50 wouldn't that bump the price of the endabled product up about $1,000?
      • Good point. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:25AM (#5503048) Homepage Journal
        Sorry, but in this business "$30/piece" is *NOT* cheap.

        Wake me up when they're selling them at $1 a piece in quantities of 10k, then we'll see a revolution ...
        • Re:Good point. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by stilwebm ( 129567 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:51PM (#5503867)
          These will initially be targeted at higher margin items. A poster suggested a clothes washer that could send you an email when it is finished washing a load. This wouldn't appear in a Roper (about a 4% margin), but more likely a Kennmore Elite or Maytag Neptune. A refrigertator with online access to temperature and enegry usage graphs is more likely to be a $3999 SubZero than a $399 GE. The good thing about this product is that as more people use it, pricing will drop and it will work its way down to mid-range products where the margins are thinner.
          • Re:Good point. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:53PM (#5505120)
            > This wouldn't appear in a Roper (about a 4% margin), but more likely a Kennmore Elite or Maytag Neptune. A refrigertator with online access to temperature and enegry usage graphs is more likely to be a $3999 SubZero than a $399 GE. The good thing about this product is that as more people use it, pricing will drop and it will work its way down to mid-range products where the margins are thinner.

            And more to the point - it allows you to sell $399 fridge without an energy usage graph, or the exact same fridge, but with a CD-ROM and an Ethernet jack, so that you can view the energy graph from your PC, for $699, you've just made $300 on $33 worth of parts. That's a great way for fridgemakers to boost margins too :)

      • by Cyclometh ( 629276 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:05PM (#5504048)

        The additional price is only an issue if you consider this item being added to some product as new functionality. This is a godsend to any product in development that had some type of networking integration already slated for its feature set. In fact, for products being designed with this type of functionality in mind, this might actually reduce the final cost.

        Engineer Drone: "Yeah, hey boss- we could build it ourselves for a boatload of cash, or we could shell out $30/pop for 10K of these things and spend a few weeks integrating them into the widget. Whaddya think?"

        PHB: "Ka-ching!"

  • Good Thing (Score:4, Funny)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:40AM (#5502251) Homepage Journal
    It's a good thing that the review wasn't hosted on one of these things! They sound really cool, but there's no way they'd handle a slashdotting! Then again...maybe a Beowulf cluster of them would...
  • Great! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:41AM (#5502254)
    Now my fridge, toaster, washer & dryer can have their own IP addresses & websites.

    Bring on IPv6 to deal with it!
    • Re:Great! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by OneEyedApe ( 610059 )
      It sounds like that is what this is designed for.
    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ip_vjl ( 410654 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:18AM (#5502469) Homepage
      Why would you need IPv6?

      Are you planning on making your fridge world visible? If not, your appliances could all sit behind NAT and you'd still only need a single IP address for your entire house.

      I wouldn't want to get home and find out I've been H4X0R3D and have a freezer full of rotten food, so I don't think I'd ever give them world visible addresses.


      Not that IPv6 is a bad thing, but this probably wouldn't significantly grow the total number of world routable addresses much, as they'd be on private nets.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Funny)

      by le_jfs ( 627582 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:51AM (#5502730) Journal
      I want one!
      I can't wait to code a MUD (multi-user dungeon) for my fridge!

      ~$ telnet fridge.home
      user: le_jfs
      password: *********

      Welcome inside your fridge!
      It's dark. It's cold. You can hear a little hum coming from everywhere.

      command> open door
      The door is now open. Magically, the light turned on. You can see a path to the kitchen south.

      command> look
      The fridge contains a ten-days-opened bottle of milk, some ham and some cheese.

      command> look cheese
      It's greenish.

      command> put cheese in bin.
      The Cheese screams in terror. He resides now in the bin.

      command> look ham
      It's bluefish. It has some activity on it. A fly probabily layed eggs on it.
      You are hungry.

      command> wield knife
      You are now armed with a knife.
      You are hungry. You are cold.

      command> kill ham with knife
      You attack the ham with a knife.
      The ham strafes and ignores you.
      You attack the ham with a knife.
      The ham takes a cut and cries.
      You attack the ham with a knife.
      The ham flees south

      command> go south
      You are now in the kitchen.
      There is some ham in bad condition lying on the floor.

      command> kill ham with knife
      You attack the ham with a knife.
      The ham begs you to stop. It really hurts.
      You attack the ham with a knife.
      The ham dies with a tremendous 'Aaaaarg'.

      You won.
      You are hungry.

      command> go shopping.
      • Re:Great! (Score:4, Funny)

        by Sgs-Cruz ( 526085 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:27PM (#5504285) Homepage Journal
        command> Open ice cream tub.

        You are eaten by a grue.

      • Title: Livin' in the Fridge
        Author: Weird Al Yankovic

        There's somethin' weird in the fridge today.
        I don't know what it is.
        Food I can't recognize.
        My roommate won't throw a thing away.
        I guess it's probably his.
        It looks like it's alive . . .

        And livin' in the fridge . . . livin' in the fridge,
        Livin' in the fridge . . . livin' in the fridge.

        There's something gross in the fridge today,
        It's green and growin' hair.
        It's been there since July.
        If you can name the object
        In that baggie over there,
        Then mister, you're a
  • These seem cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:44AM (#5502270)
    Sure, a lot of these devices seem cool (and I'll agree that they are), but to me and others in my line of work they're a security nightmare. Due to the small size, it's not hard build a device that could be hidden inside of a building on a network leaving it open to the person who left it there.

    I'd still love to have one to play around with, though!
    • Ya, seriously!
      I would love to have one and plug it in any empty connection at school/work/etc

      I could host everything from there!
    • Re:These seem cool (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rtaylor ( 70602 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:57AM (#5502359) Homepage
      Can't see why that would bother you. You encrypt everything between the desktop and the server room anyway right? Just like your wireless access?

      I bet someone could generally walk in the frontdoor with a laptop and sit in the meeting room to accomplish the same thing without anbody saying anything.
    • Re:These seem cool (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So there is the proof that it was a good idea to make the network dumb and put the "intelligence" into the leaves. It's time to rethink network security with that old paradigm in mind. Firewalls, network address based access controls and physical network access protection mean very little with devices like these around, and even less when the ethernet socket gets replaced with a WiFi transceiver. We need end-to-end authentication instead of "safe networks".
    • OK so they can throw a little box into your network. Now how do you mitigate well lets see first thigns first why should your firewall allow just anything to go out the door even simple encrypted passwords would lock down general inet access. Now yea some automated things need to run etc etc etc force them through logging proxies. DOnt you have a log of what ports are supposed to be active??? Get some control over your internal network svlans at least assuming your on a cisco network.
    • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:35AM (#5502614) Homepage
      to me and others in my line of work they're a security nightmare. Due to the small size, it's not hard build a device that could be hidden inside of a building on a network leaving it open to the person who left it there.

      Because such a computing device can be misused, we need to write our legislators and get these outlawed.
  • by heldlikesound ( 132717 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:44AM (#5502273) Homepage
    Downside is that the serial interface to the controller tops out at 300 kbps

    This seems doesn't seem like that big of a deal, for the kind of appications this is targeted for (security system modules, refrigerators, answering machines, etc...) I'd think 300 kbps is more than adaquate, you can even do some streaming video, with a reasonable bit-rate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:45AM (#5502279)'d be really small.
  • What sort of applications would this be used for? PC-based terminals like cash registers and the like, which could then be maintained from a central point using a web interface? I'm just trying to wrap my head around why this would be useful...
    • What sort of applications would this be used for?

      Armed with this and a crossover cable you could do instant network card, network settings and browser settings tests.

      A hell of a lot easier than debugging your network to see if a workstation is working properly. In some scenarios anyway :)
    • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:04AM (#5502396) Homepage Journal
      Where have you got a crapload of RJ45 cables? That's right, an office. What's the biggest driving force behind Internet technologies? That's right, pr0n. So just imagine the HUGE surge in live secretary upskirt cam websites this product will enable.

      Hell, there'll be so many, it'll simultaneously turn around the tech slump AND drive us all to IPv6.

      Until, of course, someone mistakenly installs 10,000 of these babies in the server room. All those geeks...<shudder>

  • by Gudlyf ( 544445 ) <gudlyf.realistek@com> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:47AM (#5502295) Homepage Journal
    In a previous article [], there was talk about the possibility of hackers placing small Dreamcasts on corporate networks for packet sniffing and whatnot. If they can make a webserver as small as an RJ45 connector, what's stopping someone from making one that can spy on the network?

    If somehow someone puts one of those in your network closet (or heck, anywhere on the network), good luck finding it -- it's a connector for godsakes!

    • by Daytona955i ( 448665 ) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (42yugnnylf)> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:17AM (#5502463)
      It still needs to connect to your network which means a new light on your hub/switch/router. A regular portscan of your network ip address range would find this, then you can just pull the connection at the other end. I don't think the security concerns are as great as everyone seems to think. I think it would be cool to modify it to integrate a wireless card with it to allow a wider market. I for one don't really feel like running cables into my kitchen.
      • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:50AM (#5502722) Homepage
        I don't know if noticing a new light will provide any protection... computers here are routinely plugged in and out depending upon agent and client needs, etc, and that portscan erancy might just be a new laptop that somebody plugged in. I would think what you need to do is moniter the traffic out of your network, and prevent anyone from forwarding sniffed packets across your firewall. They might be difficult to detect if the machine had built in ssh, a time-delay, and mimmocked normal traffic use (requesting /. at 10:00 AM, for example).

        The best protection against this is that with the above mentioned precaution it is unnecessary. If someone can smuggle themselves into your building, install a piece of hardware onto your network, and smuggle themselves out, then back in and out again to remove the device, why not just install a keylogger onto the back of someone's keyboard and get admin priviledges?

        Personally, I'm hoping this gets integrated into webcams. I would love to setup a camera out of the side window of my basement to know when the carpool has come, but really don't feel like putting a full server into that environment.
      • If you can run this gizmo in promiscuous mode without an IP stack it would not HAVE an IP address but would still be able to snag all the ethernet frames and perhaps filter them. OK, the bandwidth out of the serial lines would probably preclude this, but it would be semi-trivial to build a box about the size of, say a box of matches with one of these and an IBM CF microdrive to capture all the goodies. Such a thing would be bigger, but still would be easy to hide. For instance, plug it into a telephone case
      • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:57AM (#5503374) Homepage
        It still needs to connect to your network which means a new light on your hub/switch/router.

        You're right. This is a major drawback.

        What we need is help from some hardware hackers. Surely someone skilled with electronics could build a, say, calculator sized board, duct taped to a square 6-volt lantern battery, that would have both the function of a hub and a packet sniffer using a small embedded microcontroller.

        The way I propose building it, such a device would plug between an ethernet jack and a computer. It would install inline. (Although my proposed construction method is too bulky to be hidden inline, but the construction price is right. So it needs to go "inline" up in the suspended ceiling.

        Since it is inline, it doesn't "take up" an ethernet port. It piggybacks on a legitimate device that is entitled to have a network connection.

        A regular portscan of your network ip address range would find this, then you can just pull the connection at the other end.

        Not true. Just because the thing listens on ethernet does not mean it needs to respond to portscans. Heck, it doesn't even have to have an IP address. It doesn't even need to have a MAC address!

        Late at night, when the device the sniffer is piggybacked onto isn't doing anything, our sniffer could then use the same MAC address and IP address as the piggybacked device. Packets sent out from our sniffer could look to the LAN, switches, routers, etc. just like they had come from the piggybacked device. In fact, no reason we couldn't do this during the daytime. Our sniffer would watch for reply packets comming to our MAC and IP address to one of OUR port numbers, and just not relay those packets thru to the piggybacked device whose connection we're leaching from.

        Okay, maybe this shouldn't have a "hub", but should really be an embedded computer with TWO ethernet ports. It's normal function is to "transparently" bridge all packets between the two so that it is invisible "inline".

        I sure wish such an inline sniffer could be truly small so that it literally could go "inline" between two ethernet cables, connecting them together. But the price of such equipment isn't there yet for most of us.

        Another problem that I touched on above is how to power such a device. I mentioned the possibility of battery power. This is fine if you don't want a permanent "bug" in someone's network.

        Better is to somehow power it from utility power. A small AC adapter? A very tiny switching power supply on the sniffer's circuit board so that you just use aligator clips to hook into 110v power, such as in some light fixture in the suspended ceiling? (You still need battery backup for "lights off" hours.) Well, maybe just the insides of an AC adapter bolted to your board, with alligator clips for 110v power. Again, the price and ease of construction is right for those of us without NSA style budgets.

        I wish I could buy some of the NSA's packet sniffers from ThinkGeek.

        Another problem is how does the device communicate to its master? IRC is one possibility. Instant messaging? P2P? What about a P2P that is bandwidth friendly like OpenNap? The device connects to a server, offers several bizzarre files to upload. When one of those files is uploaded, that triggers it to search for and then "download" a file of new commands or firmware. When a different file is requested for upload, the sniffer yields up its booty. Besides IRC or OpenNap, the device could pretend to visit certian web sites. Various URL's of the web site would secretly communicate "bits" of steganographic information. For instance, it visits my "slash" site. It checks the last 64 comments. Which of the 64 comments it checks, communicates a 6-bit value to the web server. Of course, once such a device is discovered, the web server might be implicated. Another possibility is to e-mail various yahoo or hotmail accounts with encrypted infor
  • My Fridge (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hhawk ( 26580 )
    Sounds interesting. You take a modern Refrig. and you have all of the internal processor(s) and sensor(s) output their data to this thing and then while I'm sitting at work I can check and see how well my Fridge is running..

    It might be more fun in the TV so it can keep a log of with the kids and the Spouse are watching not to mention the washing machine! [Dirty water detected, extend wash cycle (yes) (no)].
  • big hairy deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:56AM (#5502353) Homepage
    the Siteplayer is bigger but does more and is easily afforded by nearly anyone at $29.00 in SINGLE QUANTITIES so buy one and mess with it, make the first toaster with an IP address, 10baseT and a web interface (I did. though it was neat, then dismantled it because it was reallllly silly.) is the place to go.

    If you cant buy the product in single quantities for a very reasonable price, then it's not worth messing with.
  • Not a webserver (Score:3, Informative)

    by merlin_jim ( 302773 ) <James.McCracken@ ... m ['apu' in gap]> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:59AM (#5502367)
    I didn't see where this is a full webserver. The documentation seemed to indicate that it's a TCP/IP handler. You put serial data in one side and TCP/IP network packets come out the other side.

    At least, that's what it's targetted at; an addition to an existing embedded system. I don't think you could just write a backdoor and stick it on a network and expect it to work. Probably not enough memory/CPU capacity for that sort of thing...
    • by IWannaBeAnAC ( 653701 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:39AM (#5502644)
      From the product description link, helpfully included in the main story...

      Although it is smaller than your thumb, the XPort contains all of the hardware and software required to Web-enable any device, including:

      10Base-T/100Base-TX auto-sensing Ethernet connection
      Mature, robust operating system
      Embedded HTTP-compliant Web server
      Programmable e-mail alerts
      Extensive networking protocol suite including full TCP/IP stack
      128-bit AES Rijndael encryption

  • by DasBub ( 139460 ) <dasbub@[ ] ['das' in gap]> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:00AM (#5502377) Homepage
    Everyone suggests that these could be used in toasters, fridges, etc. etc... But would you actually run cables to all of these devices?

    I can just picture Old Man Stevens handing his wife a juicer for her birthday. Old Lady Stevens lets out a little sigh and grabs a crimper and a spool of Cat5.

    • by larien ( 5608 )
      Hrm, might be off the wall, but how about using the power cable? We already have the ability to do broadband over electricity wires, how about we simply use that technology in the home to web-enable these kind of devices? If a home doesn't have the setup already, no sweat, you just miss out on the extra features. If you do have it, you simply plug in your toaster/freezer/whatever and it gets a DHCP address and it's on the net!
  • Downside is that the serial interface to the controller tops out at 300 kbps, but for $33 (in 10K quantities) it's a cool, easy way to net-enable just about anything."

    Sounds like an experience I had about 10 years ago.. I blew the removable flash bios chip on a motherboard. :( So after calling manufacturers all over the place, I managed to find one that sold the chips in qtys' of one.

    "Great!", I thought. "This will be easy."

    Two weeks later, and some after some head-scratching, I realized I was the

    • Yeah well you can fix that. You'd have to flash it with the right BIOS instructions anyway, and there's no way a chip manufacturer would know what BIOS to flash on there (nor would it be worth their while to do it)

      There are some good bios rescue techniques. There's an Open BIOS flashing project, if you're interested then I can get you the URL. Worked to flash upgrade my BIOS where the original MoBo mfr tool didn't work, and has some pretty cool other options too.

  • cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:05AM (#5502405)
    but dead flies are smaller, cheaper, and in greater abundance :)
  •'s a cool, easy way to net-enable just about anything.

    Which is fine, but the REAL killer device will be an embeddable, commodity-level wireless interface--whether 802.11 or its successor--paired with ubiquitous wireless access, at least on par with current digital cell service. I estimate we're only a few years away from the latter, and the former is already more or less available in the PCMCIA form factor.

    When my toaster oven can download Pop-Tart-warming instructions from its manufacturer's web
  • by rabryn ( 658834 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:09AM (#5502420)
    This is a great product but it pulls over 200 mills, not so great for low power embedded work.
    • by Matt_Bennett ( 79107 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:12AM (#5502892) Homepage Journal
      You're going to have a hard time doing a 100Mbit interface that is truly "low power." With 100Mbit, there is always something going over the link, putting +/- 1V over a 100 ohm load, counting inefficiences, you're probably at 40 mA just to support the TX portion of the PHY. Then you have to realize that you need a 125 MHz clock going on inside-and that's all before you have a MAC and a processor going. Ethernet (particularly 100Mb) is not a low power interface.
  • Stealth... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dmayle ( 200765 )

    What this could really use is a pass-through ethernet hub built into the device, so that you can drop it in-line with a cable in place of some existing connecter...

    • There's three user programmable I/O lines. Connect that to a small FPGA, and the possibilities are endless. You can do just about anything you want with a 3-wire interface. Heck, 2 wires is enough for things like I2C and SMBus, but three makes life a little easier.

      I'm demanding my boss order me a developer kit.

  • by fastdecade ( 179638 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:18AM (#5502471)
    Technology likes this really shows off how useful an open, ASCII-based, protocol can be.
  • Tell Me Something (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aardwolf64 ( 160070 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:21AM (#5502485) Homepage
    It's a web server with an RJ45 port. How exactly will that "net-enable just about anything"?

    Sure, you can plug a webserver into anything that happens to have an existing RJ45 port, but what use would that be? (Just what I've always wanted... a web server that I can plug into my laptop so I can browse the web at a blazing 300k/sec.)

    I want to net-enable my car. Someone tell me how this RJ45 device will allow that. My car doesn't even have an RJ45 port...
    • Re:Tell Me Something (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
      If you have the know-how, which is to say, you are capable of putting something in between this device's serial interface, and the serial interface on your car (OBD-I, OBD-II, CAM A, CAM B, CAM C) then you can net-enable your car. If you are not capable of building a little computer to do that, or grafting this onto an existing little computer which speaks the appropriate protocol, and such devices do exist, or writing software to run on the xport's operating system, then you probably cannot make it happen.
  • Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quill_28 ( 553921 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:23AM (#5502500) Journal
    I fully admit that my understanding of electronics is pretty weak, and I am confused.

    I don't get it?
    Everyone keeps talking about how you can hook up your toaster, coffee maker, etc. Do these devices have a serial port?
    How would one interface with any of these kind of devices unless they had some sort of output interface?

    I can see where these might work well with older legacy devices(printers, etc), and you want to be able put them on a network, but I fail to see how they would help in your home.

    Enlightment anyone?
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EnglishTim ( 9662 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:33AM (#5502589)
      I think the idea is that people who produce things like TVs, Refrigerators, water heaters etc... could easily intergrate these things into their products for a minimal cost. So, you can have your iRefrigerator and plug a network cable in it, and it can now email you when it runs out of ice, or someone leaves the door open, or it needs de-icing. You could point your webserver at it and get a reading of the current temperature, how much ice it has etc...

      You could put these things in drink kiosks so that they can email you when they're almost out of Dr. Pepper.

      I can't see why you'd want one in a toaster, though...
    • The RJ-45 widget IS the coinnection. You could put all your applicances on your LAN. Your Ethernet would plug right into this thing, and it's small enough to fit into a toaster.

      I'd be more interested in having web based interfaces to my Tivo, TV, stereo and other home theater stuff. I think the toaster example is not intended to be taken seriously.

      I tried to come up with a "cereal" port joke, but just couldn't. Sorry.

    • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by Croaker ( 10633 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:52AM (#5502737)
      You'd need additional hardware to wire up something like a toaster, which itself generally doesn't have electronics in it. Web enabling your toaster is a bit of hyperbole.

      However, as a home user, you could bash together something with these. Say you have an electronic thermometer that has a serial output. Attach one of these doodads and voila! You now have a web-enabled thermomemter. Stick it in the toaster. Now your toaster is web-enabled! (err... sorta) I can't think of many common appliances around that have serial ports on them. I guess my TiVo is the only one I can think of, that I own.

      These are aimed at the manufacturer of the thermometer, however. They could take the existing design that has a serial port, add in one of these modules, and release their new iThermometer that's networkable, at a low engineering cost. They can probably tag $100 onto the price, easily swallowing the $33/module cost and making themselves a nice profit in addition. There's tons of industrial equipment out there that has serial ports, which means they need to be within 30 feet or so of a PC. With these, you can have a whole network of machines tying into a single PC which is capable of monitoring an entire factory.

      I suspect any manufacturer of actual web-enabled coffeemakers, toasters, etc. would skip the serial interface (and $33 overhead) and instead just get some off-the-shelf integrated TCI/IP chip.

      Personally, I'd love to get one of these things and web-enable my old Apple //c (although this particular model is a bit pokey at 300 baud).
  • Damn scr1p7 k19913s hacked my toaster - now all it serves up is toast with burn marks that reads "r00ted ya"
  • by cyber_rigger ( 527103 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:27AM (#5502540) Homepage Journal
    It's my Beowulf Cluster. :^)
  • Automated home (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fearlezz ( 594718 )
    Cool! Just imagine what you can do with that For instance:
    • Having your lights switched by the computer
    • Your microwave starts making food when crond tells it to
    • Log when people ring the doorbell
    • Automatically switch off all lights when you press a master switch when leaving the house
    I'll bookmark it. If the price ever decreases to less than $30 a piece, I'll consider to buy some.
  • This would be an ideal platform for running a password capturing packet sniffer. Then the software could then IRC you the captured passwords, or it could auto-compromise other boxes on the lan and make them do it. Too bad about the pricetag. We need more inexpensive platforms suitable for this particular application.
  • In perspective.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nolife ( 233813 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:50AM (#5502720) Homepage Journal
    Downside is that the serial interface to the controller tops out at 300 kbps, but for $33 (in 10K quantities) it's a cool, easy way to net-enable just about anything."

    The size is a big factor but there are already full blown devices that can do far more then this and are cheaper. Take a look at some DSL/Cable routers. Siemens sells one that is a 10/100 4 port switch, web interface and control, printer port, firewall, etc... for $19 and $28 []. Many SMC barricades and Linksys models are going for under $40. These devices might not fit into a toaster but I know they could be made smaller. I know comparing these to the articles product is not apples to apples but there are cheaper and more robust web and network enabled devices already out on the street.
  • by bobgap ( 613856 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:20AM (#5502982)
    Nuf said.
  • by cvanhorn ( 220298 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:56AM (#5503351) Homepage
    According to their website here: html [] they are available in single unit quantities for $49.00.
  • Non cynical post (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kinnell ( 607819 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:01PM (#5503411)

    Typical - someone fits an entire web server into the space of an RJ45 socket, including socket space, and the top ten posts go on about what a waste of time it is! Personally, I think its great, and although I wouldn't expect toasters with this thing any time soon, it would be ideal for wiring factory equipment and such like with remote diagnostics (I get the impression this is the market they are aiming for). I think it would be massively improved if they could fit a wifi interface into the space wasted by the RJ45 socket, though. Then it might have realistic household applications.

    Their development methodology [] is out to lunch though!

  • by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:29PM (#5504301)
    I can see these being used in cars for diagnostics, as opposed to the propritary interfaces now used. One of these and a wifi would allow car service places to check out your car without you having to actually come into the dealership. Just start up the car and let us have a look at all its parameters over the web. The car could even tell them when something's going wrong or when routine service is coming due. They could also be used this way as/in a form of imbedded theft control device for the vehicle.
    • These will be huge in medical equipment if they're proven reliable. Imagine being able to monitor patients at home 24/7 over the web, or using these in hospitals for real time monitor and capture of medical monitors'data (EKG's etc.) over the Hospital LAN. Doctors could even use these to check up on patients from home without having to bother the nurses on duty. And in terms of having one in your refrigerator, though you might not need/want one there, a supermarket chain or restaurant might! Why do you thin

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson