Project Mercury: Exploring the Future of Handheld Computing

Thursday, October 18, 2001 - 6:45pm
8th fl
Jamey Hicks, Compaq

The Mercury Project was created to extend the boundaries of pervasive access to information and wireless communication. The results of the project will facilitate the access to all personal data, of any type, from anywhere, any time, securely. The Mercury Project is creating both hardware --- the BackPAQ expansion pack, which is a platform for handheld research --- and software --- consisting of networking technology, middleware, and applications.

The Mercury BackPAQ is a research prototype enabling experimentation not currently possible with off-the-shelf products. The Mercury Project leverages the expandability of Compaqs popular iPAQ H3600 design by adding a custom-designed expansion pack called the BackPAQ. The BackPAQ consists of a low power CMOS VGA imager, two PC Card Slots, 32MB of flash, an accelerometer, and a cellphone headset jack and audio codec. The combination of these features enables applications such as voice or video conferencing, and roaming across multiple physical networks.

The Mercury software is based on Linux on the iPAQ. Linux was ported to the iPAQ by Compaq as part of the Open Handhelds Project(

In the talk, I will discuss the project, its foundations in Open Handhelds, and demonstrate some of the mobility features investigated by the project. For more information on Project Mercury, go to

Lecturer Biography: 

James Hicks has been with Compaq since February, 1996, when he joined the Cambridge Research Laboratory, working on performance modeling and architecture for simultaneous multithreading on Alpha(Arana). For the past couple of years, Jamey has been working on small, networked devices: the Personal Server and now the iPAQ Pocket PC. This work has led to the formation of a Mercury Project at CRL. Prior to working at CRL, Jamey worked at the Motorola Cambridge Research Center on dataflow parallel computing. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT in 1992.