Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Special Japanese pay phones, called “GreyPhones” because of their color, have supported speedy ISDN connections from laptops for a while. Recently, NTT, Japan’s largest telephone company, has begun to install new GreyPhones with irDA/irCOMM capabilities, as shown below:
The Web site states that the system is capable of “synchronous 64Kbps and asynchronous 38.4Kbps communication” without cables or an external modem. PowerBook users running OS 8.6 will be able to take advantage of this innovation by working with settings in the Modem control panel. Unfortunately, the Web site is very Windows-oriented, because irCOMM is apparently a Windows-only protocol (see below). We have received reports of successful PowerBook communication with the new phone, though. Fear not.
Thank you to the reader who has offered some clarification about the irCOMM protocol:
IrCOMM is an irDA standard. See www.irDA.org. Support for it is built-in with Mac OS 8.6. See the infrared serial port in any application that uses the comm toolbox calls to enumerate the list of serial ports.
The IrCOMM protocol emulates a serial cable, so there is still the issue of what protocol to run “on top” of IrCOMM to do useful work.
Think of IrCOMM as just an infrared equivalent of a serial cable.