VNU Net: IBM researchers develop Linux wristwatch
Aug 09, 2000, 00:55 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Leyden)
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By John Leyden, VNU Net
IBM researchers have unveiled a prototype wristwatch
running the Linux operating system (OS) in a move demonstrating
that the open source technology can run on the smallest of
The so-called 'smart watch' weighs in at just 42g, and boasts
the sort of features that even James Bond would take an interest
in. It boasts infrared and wireless connectivity, along with 8Mb of
flash memory and another 8Mb of dynamic Ram. It contains an
embedded processor running version 2.2 of Linux.
Designed to communicate wirelessly with PCs, cell phones and
other devices, the watch will have the ability to view condensed
email messages and receive short text messages directly.
A touch sensitive screen and roller-wheel allow users to access
applications that include calendar, address book and to-do
IBM said future enhancements will include a high-resolution
screen and applications that will allow the watch to become an
internet access device.
Lemon, research manager at IDC, said Linux was a strong proposition
in the embedded market, but added that the watch is more of a
gadget for IBM researchers than a commercial product.
"The functions in the device will only be realistic when you
have voice recognition. We haven't seen anything yet in that form
factor, though IBM have come out with a wearable PC which used a
pair of glasses instead of a screen," he said. "IBM is trying to
show it is up to date because it has been seen as a bit fuddy duddy
in the past."
But Big Blue insists that the device is more than just a gimmick
and that it demonstrates the suitability of the Linux OS for
"Several benefits accrue from the use of Linux in small
pervasive devices," said the company in a statement on its
research. "The availability of source code and a well-understood
application programming environment make it easy for students,
researchers and software companies to add new features and develop
Among the technologies IBM is developing for similar devices are
packaging, displays, processors, hardware encryption, low power
systems, wireless protocols, user interfaces, privacy models,
middleware and applications. Other devices that could leverage
these technologies include personal digital assistants, and smart
identification badges and other wearable devices.