A vision of pervasive computing

By Sean M. Dugan, InfoWorld |  Hardware

There are a couple of companies working with Crusoe that are doing wearable computers. Just like you might strap on your cell phone or a pager today, there's a little device that you strap on that's your entire computer. It takes your environment with you. It has a little thing that clips onto your glasses which lets you look into this device so you can see a full screen floating out in front of your eyes. I can't claim that those technologies don't exist today -- they've been developed for the military -- but they're not consumer oriented. I think it's the difference between taking a $20,000, wearablee military computer and turning it into a $200 consumer device. It's where the breakthrough changes are going to happen. It's not so much a technology breakthrough as a usability breakthrough for the consumer of all these different technologies.

InfoWorld: If we have wearable computers, they'll have to be fashionable. We'll have to have Donna Karan producing them.

Ditzel: Undoubtedly. I think the real issue is getting the size down, to getting the battery life long enough, to just generally changing the usability of the interface. And there's a lot of neat stuff going on there. One of the examples that I'll point out is this tablet PC that Microsoft is doing. They took a different point of view in inventing it. Most of the people try and build a consumer device that's more of a toy, kind of a large Palm Pilot. I think what Microsoft did that was very innovative was to decide to make a complete, full PC. In fact, it's running a version of Windows NT, not Windows CE at the low end. They took their highest-end operating system, and they took a high-end chip -- it's actually a 600MHz Crusoe processor inside -- and that enabled them to do this fancy handwriting recognition. They're thinking about what computing in the future will be like and realizing that every year you get more and more computing for fewer dollars. And, so, by prototyping the system with Crusoe, they can kind of provide the machine of the future today.

InfoWorld: It seems like the usability aspects of these mobile-focused technologies are going to have some cascade effects on just your basic desktop PC in terms of creating PC appliances that are available for anybody's grandmother.

Ditzel: Casio is introducing a machine that weighs 35 ounces. The first time I saw it and picked it up, I thought, "Oh, this is some kind of personal organizer. This is useless." I thought it was going to be for addresses. Then I realized, holy cow, they're running Windows Me on this thing with six to nine hours of battery life and it's featherweight.

It's the kind of thing for people who would not have dealt with the geek factor before of hauling around a 10-pound machine. This is the kind of thing a woman can take and just drop in her purse and won't even realize it's there.

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