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Rs232/Usb device via webservices? Is it possible?

Marco Savioli
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Maybe this is not the most appropriate place to put such a question,
which is a bit general, but I didn't find a more specific newsgroup...

Some of my customers are asking me if it's possibile to integrate the
devices they are actually using in their application in a web service,
which is an approach we have choosed and implemented for many others
tasks of the application itself. We also have done something like this
with other devices, but they were connected via Ethernet, so the making
of a webservice was really trivial (but increase the load on the web
service server, 'cause it has to open a socket through every client
device machine).

Currently, the devices are different models of scanner, both RS/232 and
USB, controlled via an applet which use one high-level java class
developed by us. Obviously, the scanners are connected to each client
machine (so, they aren't connected to the server where the webservice is
stored). My dilemma is: can a web service make use of a device locally
connected to the client which also trigger the web service request?!? If
the question is yes, how can it be accomplished?

Sorry for my poor english and thanks in advance
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