The Future of Java for Consumers
Many people are aware of Google Maps for mobile devices which is a mobile Java application that runs on any Java-powered cell phone. However, Java is increasingly showing up in all sorts of consumer devices, beyond cell phones. Take WowWee toys, for instance. WowWee offers a series of robotic toys, such as Robosapien (see Figure 2), Roboraptor, and Robopet, which are all Java-powered and branded. This is definitely an example of the power, and the entertaining side, of embedded Java.
Another example of embedded Java is the use of Java within the latest BMW cars to offer location services, interactive services, and multimedia functionality. The Java software is called "iDrive," which lets drivers control the car's audio and navigations systems, as well as the climate within the car's cabin. What's more, Java helped cut BMW's development costs significantly, and has provided them with a dynamic platform that can be updated with new services and features even after the car leaves the dealership.
Sports fans all around will love what Java allowed ESPN to do with its Mobile ESPN cell phone service. This mobile service and Java-based application that runs on the cell phone allows users to get the latest sports news and scores, view real-time score boards, watch video highlights, ask sports questions, and receive alerts for sports-related news, events, and game results, as in Figure 3.
If you're interested in learning more about Java-powered consumer devices, or other unique applications based on Java, see this list of interesting consumer applications and devices that are based on Java.
As a closing note, in looking towards the future, Sun envisions a world where Java will be used by consumers to program and control the environment around them. This might be accomplished with a home full of Java-powered devices, or through tools that can control other devices. Either way, there's a good chance that Java will be at the center of the consumer world.