Professor develops file-sharing network software
File sharing, without the use of the Internet, will be made possible with Lee McKnight’s Innovaticus, a new software program that allows information to be sent through almost any digital devices such as printers, MP3 players and microphones.
Named for the Latin term for ‘innovation,’ Innovaticus was developed by School of Information Studies professor Lee McKnight and the Syracuse University Wireless Grids Lab.
McKnight looks forward to the testing process, a semester-long experiment beginning in January. The software will be given to 40 students living in an arts learning community in Boland Hall.
Focus groups conducted throughout the semester will evaluate how students use the software, which types of information they transmit and for what purposes they share this information.
‘I am happy to have the software available to our Syracuse students before the rest of the world,’ McKnight said. He said the software, licensed by Wireless Grids Corp., would be beneficial to universities as well as businesses.
Each user manages his or her own personal network of devices and can select files and information to be available to other people on that grid. The possibilities for grids are virtually endless; they could include family members, students living in a dormitory or employees working in an office building.
‘You choose what you make available, to whom and under which circumstances. Information can be available publicly, to certain people you select or by password,’ said K. Matthew Dames, a doctoral fellow and adjunct iSchool professor.
Dames worked with McKnight on Innovaticus since the summer, researching the intellectual property issues that arise in the sharing of resources over these networks.
McKnight led a multi-university research project in 2002 called Virtual Markets and Digital Grids, funded by the National Science Foundation. The project’s discoveries led to Innovaticus. McKnight founded the Wireless Grids Corp. in 2004, which then licensed the software and filed a patent.
The product was tested by high school students and teachers for two weeks in Boston in 2005.
‘We hope that the students will be innovative and creative in their use of the technology, so we’re trying to not take a direction yet. Typically what comes out of a study like this isn’t what you expect,’ said Joe Treglia, a doctoral student at iSchool who is in charge of tracking how the technology will be adopted by students.
Syracuse professor Craig Watters will teach the entrepreneurship for engineering and science class during the spring semester studying the software’s product design and commercialization.
‘You have this great product; now how will it be marketed and developed to support a company?’ Watters said.
He said Innovaticus will be very beneficial to the ease of file sharing among students.
‘Part of the excitement is looking at different possibilities for how students will use the software, and how it’s compatible with other systems used by the university,’ Watters said.
This type of software is not new to the technological community, but Innovaticus will be ‘more direct, quicker and more secure’ than similar models, Dames said.
Dames speculated that other versions released in the past, such as Apple’s Bonjour, were not successful because they were presented ‘before people realized there was a need for it.’ Innovaticus will eliminate the security threats posed by the Internet and will make sharing information easier and more user-friendly.
‘This software integrates features from many different services,’ said iSchool junior Mike Fleishman. ‘It is an extension of already existing networking between computers, incorporating mobile devices, traditional computers and other technology into one grid.’
After the student testing is completed and the results are included in further development of the software, McKnight hopes to present Innovaticus to companies for an evaluation of how it could serve as home and business consumer software. McKnight said other universities are already interested in testing the software, and Telecom New Zealand is researching the potential application of the software as a home consumer product.
‘We are very optimistic that we will have something very significant to announce during the spring semester,’ McKnight said.
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