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May 1, 2006 By: Barbara G. Goode, Sensors Sensors

Systems Support Proves Mainstreaming

Sun Microsystems has unveiled a special version of its Java programming language, called SPOT (Small Programmable Object Technology), geared specifically for wireless sensor applications. A development kit with two wireless sensors, a base station, and JavaBeans development software is scheduled for release this month for $499. Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy showcased the technology in a keynote address at Sun's Worldwide Education and Research Conference. During the address McNealy introduced Dr. Barbara (Bobbi) Kurshan, new executive director of the non-profit Global Education and Learning Community, created to offer free, open standards-based curriculum to increase the reach of educational tools.

 Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy
Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy

Second, the newest version of OpenBSD—a freely available Unix-like computer operating system—promises to assist systems monitoring through a new sensor interface framework. OpenBSD 3.9, scheduled for release on May 1, includes support for the sensors and the sensor management tools used on a number of architectures. OpenBSD, known for portability, standardization, and security, addresses the problem of monitoring servers' environmental conditions in a heterogeneous architecture. (,

M&A News Features Honeywell, Measurement Specialties, Continental

When Honeywell announced its acquisition of First Technology plc in late March it was already planning to sell First's Safety & Analysis business. The divestiture happened immediately; Honeywell was interested in First Technology's other two divisions, Gas Sensing and Automotive & Special Products—but especially Gas Sensing, which Honeywell is now integrating into its Automation and Control Solutions (ACS) business. "This acquisition strengthens Honeywell's presence in the fast-growing gas detection segment, which we entered last year when we acquired Zellweger Analytics," said CEO Dave Cote.

MSI Hot for Temperature

Just a few days later, Measurement Specialties Inc. (MSI) acquired BetaTHERM of Galway, Ireland, and YSI Temperature of Ohio to establish a new temperature sensor product line. Both provide precision thermistors and custom probes for aerospace, medical, and industrial applications; BetaTHERM also serves the automotive and consumer goods markets.

Temperature, "the most commonly measured physical characteristic . . . has been a gap in our technology portfolio," said Frank Guidone, MSI's CEO. Observers wonder how MSI will integrate two divergent cultures, but Guidone says there are "strong synergies" and that his company will be "a formidable player."

Motorola Drives Off Automotive

To explain Motorola's decision to sell its automotive electronics business to German company Continental AG, Greg Brown, president of Motorola's Networks & Enterprise business, said, "This transaction positions Motorola for continued success by further sharpening our strategic focus on communications solutions that advance our vision of 'Seamless Mobility.'" Continental is integrating Motorola's controls, sensor, interior electronics, and telematics businesses into its Automotive Systems division. The transaction should close by mid-2006. (,,

Free Advice on Sensors for Defense

We now face a new concept of war where instead of being miles away, the enemy may be in the same building or just a few feet away," says David Shumaker, director of SENSIAC, the new sensing information analysis center serving the U.S. Department of Defense.

The center draws expertise from Georgia Tech (where it is housed) and seven other universities, and serves everyone from university researchers to soldiers in the field. "We provide information on all sensing-based technologies related to defense activities," says deputy director Ann Batchelor. The service is free—unless the problem requires extensive research—and welcomes all types of questions. Contact Shumaker, 404-385-7370,; or Batchelor, 404-385-4032,

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