m-Links: An Infrastructure for Very Small Internet Devices

Abstract

In this paper we describe the Mobile Link (m-Links) infrastructure for utilizing existing World Wide Web content and services on wireless phones and other very small Internet terminals. Very small devices, typically with 3-20 lines of text, provide portability and other functionality while sacrificing usability as Internet terminals. In order to provide access on such limited hardware we propose a small device web navigation model that is more appropriate than the desktop computers web browsing model. We introduce a middleware proxy, the Navigation Engine, to facilitate the navigation model by concisely displaying the Webs link (i.e., URL) structure. Because not all Web information is appropriately “linked,” the Navigation Engine incorporates data-detectors to extract bits of useful information such as phone numbers and addresses. In order to maximize program-data composibility, multiple network-based services (similar to browser plug-ins) are keyed to a links attributes such as its MIME type. We have built this system with an emphasis on user extensibility and we describe the design and implementation as well as a basic set of middleware services that we have found to be particularly important.