Thursday, March 22, 2007

IBM's Linux Watch

With all the innovation that has taken place within the last year in mechanical watch movements (Seiko Spring Drive, Tag Heuer Belt Drive), I thought now would be a good time to look back at a turn of the century prototype digital watch.

In 2001 IBM started showcasing its Linux Wristwatch, which I think goes a long way to explaining why they aren't the powerhouse of computing that they used to be. Featuring a tiny motherboard with an ARM processor (running at the equivalent of a 100Mhz Pentium), 8MB DRAM, and 8MB Flash packed into a case measuring 56mm W x 48mm L x 12mm H. It supported Infra Red, RF, and Bluetooth connectivity, and sported a four quadrant LCD touchscreen and a scroll-wheel for navigation. IBM researched/developed a few applications for the watch's OS including a WML browser, to-do list, calculator, and e-mail functions. The open source code would seemingly allow users to develop their own apps. A great piece of electrical engineering, but possibly not such a great business idea, although I believe that some of this technology has found its way into Citizen's new Bluetooth VIRT watch.

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