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PREVIEW: First exclusive O2 Action Engine preview
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 16.07.02 - 16:08:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 6668x
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Action Engine has developed a Mobile Services Framework that provides a platform for the development and deployment of applications for wireless mobile devices. The framework uses a Smart Client/Smart Server architecture that addresses the unique limitations and capabilities of mobile devices.

The goal is to build and deliver technology that makes the wireless Internet a valuable tool for all people. Action Engine sees the transformation of mobile devices from desktop companions to primary computing devices, and Action Engine hopes to enable that transformation.

Architecture

Smart Client
The Action Engine Smart Client is designed from the device up, taking into account the capabilities and limitations of the wireless networks, as well as the form factor of the device.

Smart Server
The Action Engine Smart Server is a secure, scalable platform designed to optimize the experience of the mobile device user. The open architecture design drives the development of wireless data applications that users want and are willing to pay for on a regular basis.

Action Utilities
Action Engine offers a suite of utilities for device management and wireless provisioning of applications and services.

  • Action Update – provisions new applications and other data wirelessly, providing end-users with the latest versions
  • Action Backup – enables wireless backup of critical information and wireless restore of key data in case of data loss
  • Action Lock – allows a licensee to send a wireless ‘lock’ command to the device, rendering a lost or stolen device useless

Framework

User Scenario

The following scenario is fictitious account of how an end-user will react with the Action Engine Mobile Services Framework, Action Utilities, and Turnkey Applications. While there are many examples within the scenario, each company who licenses Action Engine’s technology will have specific demographic targets in mind - this scenario uses the mobile professional and the enterprise as examples.

Applications Installed: Traveler, Restaurants, Movies, and Driving Directions from Action Engine’s Turnkey offering; CRM, Sales Inventory, and Expense Reports, developed specifically for Wholesale Beverage.

Kate’s sales team is based out of London and she is preparing for an upcoming business trip to New York City. Wholesale Beverage Company has an enterprise agreement with O2 (BT Cellnet), who provides wireless phones and integrated PDA-smart phones with GPRS service to the sales team at Wholesale Beverage. O2 has licensed the Action
Engine Framework, Action Utilities and the suite of turnkey applications that are included in Kate’s wireless service plan. Wholesale Beverage has also built three enterprise applications, through a systems integrator, that will run on the Action Engine Mobile Services Framework: CRM, Sales Inventory, and Expense Reports. Kate uses Action Engine’s software on both her office PC and her O2 integrated device to maximize efficiency and productivity.

Monday Monday-9:00am: Device Independent
From her desktop PC with Windows 2000, Kate pulls up the Action Engine framework and reserves her flight, hotel, and rental car using the installed applications. She sends the reservation information to her manager who quickly approves her expenditure. Kate then accesses her reservation and purchases the travel itinerary. Tuesday –10:37am: Online and Offline Transactions The day of her trip comes and Kate sets out to the Heathrow airport and catches her flight on time. She has, of course, brought her O2 device for her trip. While on the plane, she is seated next to a native of New York who suggests that her rental car is unnecessary since her hotel is located in downtown New York, where taxis are quicker and parking is difficult. Kate considers the options, and since she doesn’t plan to make any trips outside of the city, she decides to cancel her car reservation.
Kate turns on her XDA device, makes a few taps in the Results application on the Action Engine framework and saves her request to cancel her car reservation. As soon as she lands, she sends her cancellation request over the wireless network. Kate then, hails a taxi and is whisked away to her hotel downtown.

Wednesday Wednesday-8:15am: Access to Corporate Data
The next morning, Kate prepares for her early morning appointment with Quality Foods Corp. The taxi driver asks Kate where she would like to go, and she realizes that she doesn’t know the address off the top of her head. Kate uses her XDA device to access the CRM application on the Action Engine framework and quickly checks her notes for her
contact, who had given Kate the cross streets when she made the appointment.

Wednesday Wednesday-11:42am: Instant Access to Data
Kate’s appointment goes better than expected – Quality Foods Corp. wants to schedule a double order for the next three months. Using her XDA, Kate accesses her company’s available inventory using the Sales Inventory application built on the Action Engine Framework. Kate quickly taps a few selections and then secures the double order for the next three months time.

Wednesday Wednesday-1:23pm: Integrates with Native Data on Client
On her way back to the hotel, Kate decides to contact an old college friend, living in New York. Kate’s friend, Amy, is excited to hear from her and suggests they meet for dinner and a movie that night. Kate volunteers to make restaurant reservations and promises to send the details to Amy’s office email address. While in the cab, Kate finds a restaurant using the Restaurants application on the Action Engine framework, makes reservations and then sends Amy the details.

Wednesday Wednesday-7:28pm: Shares Data Between Applications
While enjoying their dinner, Kate pulls out her XDA device and looks up movies near the restaurant using the Movies application. Kate and Amy select the movie of their choice, purchase the tickets, and then map the directions to the movie theater from the restaurant, all with just a few taps on Kate’s XDA device. Kate saves this information on her XDA device so that she and Amy can access it after dinner as they walk toward the movie theater.

Thursday Thursday-9:22am: Server Side Intelligence
The next morning at the airport, Kate has just cleared security when she notices an SMS message has been sent to her XDA device. The message informs her that her flight has been cancelled and alerts her that options for rebooking have been sent to her XDA device. Kate uses her XDA to secure a rebooked flight on the spot, finds a seat at her new gate, pulls out a book, and relaxes until it is time to board her new flight.

Friday Friday-8:17am: Improved Efficiency
When Kate returns to work the next day, she opens the Expense Reports application on her desktop PC, and discovers that thanks to the Action Engine framework’s capabilities, her travel expenses have already been gathered. She adds a few taxi expenses paid for in cash and then submits her expense report for approval.

Friday Friday-2:47pm: Personal Data is Protected
Later that afternoon, Kate realizes her XDA device is not with her and after much thought, she determines that she left it on the airplane. After calling the airline with no success and concerned about the sensitive company information on the device should someone find her user name and password, Kate calls O2 to determine options. O2 explains to Kate about Action Lock, one of the Action Engine utilities, that allows O2 to issue a “lock’ command so that the device will become inoperable.
Kate’s data is now protected and the device is inoperable. Kate meets with her manager to break the bad news about her lost device and then celebrates the good news of the double order from Quality Foods Corp. that made the trip a success. with a note suggesting they pick a movie close to the restaurant, but to decide which specific movie during dinner.

Action Engine on the Pocket PC

mmO2 is the first wireless operator who signed a cooperation with Action Engine. All O2 xda's will be shipped with Action Engine modules or can be upgraded later. Here are some examples how Action Engine could looks on an O2 xda:

Action Backup

Have you seen (in the animation) how fast the Action Backup works!? This is even faster than everything I've seen local with ActiveSync. In that test case I've backuped through a cradle connection to the Internet and even this seems to be faster.
Also a great addition is to excludes file types or even complete directories. So this makes sense for different reasons: 1st I don't need to synchronize folders like Mazingo and can save time, 2nd synchronizing MPEGs, AVIs or MP3s wireless would makes me running out of money!

Action Update

myO2 web services


Thanks to Henry Jonker for the "my O2 web services" screenshots

Final Conclusion

All together the Action Engine seems to be/become a pretty powerful tool for mobile devices and I look forward to seem more from them soon. Unfortunately the company isn't reachable right now by E-Mail so currently my information is pretty limited but I think we can expect more to come from O2 soon!
However, the "my O2 web services" menu and services looks more than cool. It reminds me a little bit on WAP or i-mode (as it is proprietary) but doesn't matter if it helps the xda owner to get the information he looks for.

Cheers ~ Arne

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Comments
Posted by Martin Levy on 19.07.02 - 00:00:00

Not sure if my last email went through, I wanted to thank you Arnie for the story, and ping you about "Unfortunately the company isn't reachable right now by E-Mail so currently my information is pretty limited..."

All our press releases have my contact info, so fire away any questions you may have and I'll get them answered.

Posted by Daniel on 25.07.02 - 00:00:00

How can I use this program in Germany? Is there way or not?

Posted by Arne Hess on 25.07.02 - 00:00:00

@Daniel: What do you mean with your question?
Do you mean how to use it on your xda or how to use it on a Pocket PC in general?

If you have a O2 xda right now, you can update it anytime soon and will get the Action Engine on your device, if you are using a different Pocket PC you will not be able to use the O2 Action Engine service and have to wait until Action Engine is provided through any other channels like portals.
BTW: Action Engine isn't a program only but a complete service framework, so the application only, on your Pocket PC doesn't helps you at all.

I had a one hour conversation and live demonstration with Craig Eisler, CEO of Action Engine two days ago and will write a detailed story about this next week. It's pretty amazing what this guys in Redmond developed there and I'm expecting to see more cool features, integrated into Action Engine soon.

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