So you want to work on any computer as you owned it, but without going through the whole remote access process? Thanks to an early-stage company established after the founders met whilst studying for PhDs in Computer Science at Cambridge University your wishes might just be about to come true.
Fonleap, one of seventeen companies showcasing exciting new technology at the annual Meerkats and Avatars event in Cambridge today, is launching a virtual machine in your pocket which uses your smartphone to transport a desktop, in its entirety, from one computer to another. In a nutshell, according to Fonleap co-founder Dan Greenfield, you can stop working on one computer and then resume on another one somewhere else with your own desktop, files and applications exactly as you left them.
OK, so remote desktops are nothing new and the whole remote access market has become somewhat saturated over the last few years, so what's different about Fonleap? Greenfield reckons the real innovation involved here is in taking the remote access out of the equation. "Fonleap will allow you to sync your computer with your phone, so you have everything from your computer available to use on any device. Your entire desktop gets transported with all your files and, crucially, all your applications" Greenfield says, adding "the latest version of your files are always accessible so there’s no danger of confusing different versions. You don’t need to keep your PC on – it’s all there on your phone.”
The project came about after Greenfield wanted to finish off some of his PhD work on his home computer and became "very frustrated" by how much time and effort required by setting up remote access using available products and services. "For me it wasn’t as simple as transferring one document" Greenfield explains, continuing "I had to load, reconfigure applications and set up my desktop again... even with a good network connection it was just so slow". Fonleap incorporates SyncFS software, developed in-house, which tracks changes made to files and rapidly synchronises the data on a computer with data on the user’s phone. Unlike other approaches to the remote desktop problem, SyncFS gives instant access while still synchronising, so whenever you open a file you can be sure you are accessing the latest version. Then there's SyncIQ which learns and predicts what content should be synchronised immediately, so you can resume working right away. Meanwhile, the StorageIQ component can double the available space on a device by intelligently de-duplicating data and saving changes between files rather than saving the same content twice.
Another common concern with any remote desktop, or for that matter portable desktop, technology is the security of your data. This did not go unnoticed by the guys at Fonleap who wanted to reduce the risk of stolen or lost data when using their product and so implemented military-grade encryption for files which remain both encrypted and backed up on your PC. The PocketVM product from Fonleap builds on the technology of existing Virtual Machines, which allow for the use of multiple operating systems within a single computer, by enabling users to transport their OS on a smartphone to any other computer. DaniWeb hopes to be in a position to review the product as soon as it becomes available.
The Meerkats and Avatars event held in Cambridge every year highlights some of the most innovative technologies from early-stage companies in the UK and offers them a chance to showcase their products to both journalists and investors alike. David Gill, Director of the St John’s Innovation Centre where the Meerkats and Avatars event was held, says “every year we support early-stage technology companies across the region with a showcase event to which we invite journalists and potential investors. This year, the Meerkats and Avatars event has been oversubscribed, showing the wealth of innovation across the region. For the first time this year we have invited some multinationals with a known interest in open innovation to meet the demonstrators at Meerkats and Avatars. These mainly US-based companies have the structures necessary to engage with early-stage companies, something that is often lacking in the UK mid-market companies".