Press and Success
Multimedia in Microdevices: The Java Community ProcessSM (JCPSM) Program Responds to Market Needs
Industry Awaits Multimedia Support
In the meantime, while the Joneses may be still unaware of these future products, the Java 2 Micro EditionTM (J2METM) industry is all too focused on what is coming. Throughout 2002, the industry has signaled its interest in enhancing mobile devices with Java technology by widely adopting the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) for the J2ME Platform. As increasing numbers of mobile devices are equipped with Java technology, the lack of multimedia support for such devices in current Java Community ProcessSM (JCPSM) program standards became more obvious.
Jyri Huopaniemi of Nokia acknowledges the "clear and rapid need" for multimedia support in MIDP and Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC) environments as the main driver for JSR 135 Mobile Media API. "The industry anticipated availability for this optional J2ME package. There's competition in the market and some other technologies may be offering similar features, so these added pressure to get the specification out in a timely manner," says Huopaniemi, spec lead for JSR 135.
Global Expert Team for Global Interests
From the outset, the specification was designed to satisfy the global interests of device manufacturers, content creators, wireless service providers, and end users. The original JSR 135 proposal was endorsed by Nokia, Sun Microsystems, and Beatnik, with Finland-based Nokia appointed spec lead. To form the expert group, about 16 companies were selected from nominations submitted to the JCP Program Management Office (PMO), and four additional experts were added later with the consent of the group.
"We tried to assemble as widely varied an expert group as possible," says Huopaniemi. Members represented a diversity in three important dimensions: technical understanding, business acumen, and cultural awareness. Multimedia developers had audio, music, and video expertise, and the associated platform knowledge. Terminal manufacturers and wireless service providers provided insights into business and deployment issues. Experts from Europe, North America, and Asia represented those regional markets, where someday enthusiastic customers are expected to purchase multimedia-capable mobile devices and the color-rich multimedia applications that exploit the various implementations of the new Java specification.
Realistic Schedule Balances Speed with Quality
Interest and excitement has been building for this technology. The JCP has responded to industry demand by balancing the need to produce and deliver an effective specification with the need for speed to market. Huopaniemi appreciates the rigor of the overall JCP program. "The overall process where you go to community, public, and final draft, and then have the review period sets a good framework for progressing with the specification," he says. Nevertheless, it can be hard to make progress as rapidly as the industry would like to see it, so the trick is to balance the need to make technology available quickly with the JCP's interest in quality. "Of course we want to provide the best specification possible, so we need to have time in order to solve all of the technical issues. It's a tradeoff between time and refinement," says Huopaniemi.
The spec lead walks the fine line of both guarding time for experts to address solutions and of maintaining overall progress toward final approval. According to Huopaniemi, "Spec leads take into account the arguments and ideas of the experts and really try to get the best solution, but then they are expected to drive decision-making so things get done according to a schedule." Huopaniemi feels it's important to envision a realistic schedule from the start rather than one that is overly optimistic or pessimistic. He says, "It's good to let the Expert Group (EG) and interested parties know the specification is going to be done in a certain time."
To push JSR 135 along, Huopaniemi set an aggressive one-year schedule and met the challenge of adhering to it while he guided the specification along the normal JCP path. Although May 2001 was the official start date of JSR 135, the expert group formation and work didn't actually begin until July, and it concluded June 2002.
From Canada, Tim Rahrer, director of technology for Zucotto Wireless and JSR 135 expert, admired Huopaniemi's equitable handling of requests for features as well as his ability to balance the demands regarding functionality, footprint, and time to completion. "JSR 135 was a great example of a well-organized and well-run JSR. The scope was kept well-bounded to ensure we could turn the spec around quickly," says Rahrer, who also serves on the JCP Executive Committee. JCP expert groups don't often interact among each other, but Rahrer was pleased with the level of cooperation and interaction between the JSR 135 and JSR 118 MIDP 2 Expert Groups (EGs). He says, "Acknowledging the expertise in JSR 135, the MIDP EG looked to us to establish a minimum subset of JSR 135 to be included in the next version of the MID Profile. The two groups cooperated on defining the feature set and ensured that MIDP 2 has vastly improved support for media features and that device manufacturers have a smooth path to upgrade to enhanced media features by adding JSR 135 APIs."
Implementations in the Works
The expert group has brought the project to its conclusion, with final approval given June 24, 2002. Huopaniemi is proud of his expert group's work on JSR 135. "The specification changed quite a bit from the original submission, and the EG has done an excellent job bringing this API to a successful finishing stage," he says.
With the API now available, the international market can offer multimedia support for customers who own or will acquire Java technology-capable mobile devices.
In early September 2002, Nokia announced the first mobile phone in the market to support the JSR-135 Mobile Media API, the Nokia 3650 (http://www.nokia.com/phones/3650). This phone features audio, MIDI, video and camera support for Java MIDP through the Mobile Media API, and enables the creation of compelling Java multimedia applications.
Zucotto Wireless considers JSR 135 a key technology for their customers, who are leading handset and wireless device chip manufacturers. "Media capabilities are becoming an increasingly important feature of wireless devices," says Rahrer, noting the popularity of the "sha-mail" photo email service and camera-phones on the J-phone network in Japan. "Java technology is a great way to access and control media features on these devices, and our Java hardware processor is uniquely able to run compelling, media-rich Java content well."
Until JSR 135 became available, Zucotto Wireless had to create proprietary interfaces to media features in their products. "We were pleased to participate in the JSR 135 expert group to help create industry standard mobile media APIs, which will help further the wireless Java content industry by enabling interoperable media-rich applications. We look forward to continuing work on future versions to continue to meet the ever-increasing demands of mobile device users in a timely fashion," says Rahrer.
Ultimately, Zucotto Wireless plans to convert their proprietary media interfaces to full JSR 135 support, as customer demand calls for it. But for now they'll support the subset of JSR 135 that was adopted by MIDP 2.0. Rahrer says, "Zucotto Wireless offers Java hardware engines that enable feature-rich, revenue generating applications on mobile devices. Our hardware processor cores execute Java bytecodes directly in hardware and we provide a software layer and full API support for either MIDP or DoJa profiles." Products with MIDP 2.0 and JSR 135 support are scheduled for release along with customer handset product rollouts in 2003.
The welcome changes JSR 135 enables are being implemented by manufacturers, developers, and carriers. "The mobile industry is undergoing a major change from voice-only communications to a combination of voice, data, and multimedia in mobile applications. The JSR 135 Mobile Media API is a first true enabler for interoperable mobile multimedia applications, and it plays an important role in bringing new rich media features to entertainment and business applications," says Huopaniemi.
The Joneses in North America will soon be snapping pictures and creating movies of their grandkids to upload to friends and relatives over an increasingly busy network. At the same time, the Rousseaus in France may be downloading a movie or live news broadcast to view or record on their mobile screen, while the Tan children in Singapore play a full-featured game on their mom's Java technology-capable PDA. JCP-incubated technology ripples around the world.