Interfacing with local ports

I have a very broad question to ask here. I’ll start with the
scenario. I need to develop a ruby application that will take input
from a device attached to a USB port on a computer and convert it to a
web readable format and send it to a web application for parsing on a
server. I’m thinking the best thing to do would be to read the input
and turn it into a SOAP or XML-RPC format that another server would
read. So the ruby application sitting on a computer would have to stay
open as a service (server) and take input, convert it and send it and
wait for a response to make sure the request went through. The device
connected to the USB is a reciever for keypads, and multiple keypads
could send input at a time. So anywhere from 1 to 500 responses to the
receiver could occur at any time (would this require some sort of

I’m not expecting a solution to my problem, but maybe some resources on
how ruby can interface with local ports and convert the information.
If anyone has some example code or a good site with this information,
please send it my way. Also, if anyone knows of or is an expert ruby
programmer in the Philadelphia area that could help me with the problem
more directly, I would love to talk to you.

Also, if anyone has suggestions on the best way to communicate
information between servers using ruby, I’m willing to listen.