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More On The Linux Wrist Watch 115

Gareth writes "CNET has more information on IBM's wrist watch running Linux, including an interview with the vice president of research." A lot meatier than we had yesterday. It looks legit, but it's still looks pretty impractical (despite scoring many points on the old cool-o-meter).
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More on the Linux Wrist Watch

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...a lot of the technology that's in the lab will be out: LEP (light emitting polymers), gigabit ram, transmeta-type ultra low power CPUs, etc. That's when so much cool stuff will be flowing out! I want a wearable, but for when I don't want to be in "gargoyle mode", a Linux watch will do. Turn the display sideways, make it a bit bigger, higher res and with 16bpp color. Jump the ram up (CF slot?). The article says it has wireless radio (is there wired radio?), maybe build in bluetooth. Anybody who says "what good is a watch like that" should immediately turn in their pocket protectors and enroll in management classes! Cpt_Kirks
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:22AM (#871825)
    Its clear in the article that IBM does not expect the Linux watch to become a product--but is a research prototype. Practical or not, I can think of many lessons learned from this effort. Just as a proof of concept, that Linux can be run in tiny devices--issues like power consumption, memory requirement, display readability--this can come a long way to proving to skeptics that Linux has vast untapped potential. So, broaden your minds and stop asking insipid questions like "is it practical"? Practically, in this case, is not the point.
  • You forgot:

    HP-UX Watch: Rock solid and fast, but uses the incompatible base 8 time system. (ever tried compiling network apps on HP-UX?)

    New Amiga Watch: Holographic time display, weighs less than a nickel, does your laundry, and speaks 193 languages, but no one's ever actually seen one.

    BeOS Watch: Same as the New Amiga watch but it actually exists.


  • Most likely that is supposed to be "daily alarm" which you no doubt figured out.

    I bet whoever wrote this page was Japanese, and they didn't know exactly how to spell "daily" in English, so they used the kana spelling to guess. Unfortunatly, the Japanese have neither an l nor an r sound, just one that is kind of in-between, so when our hapless translater fell upon this sound he guessed, incorrectly.

  • by dougman ( 908 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:02AM (#871828)
    I'm sorry. I REALLY like Linux and all, but this seems to be akin to a small war to CNN coverage-wise here.


    Jesus. I can only imagine the stop-the-presses-obsess-over-this coverage the day they get Linux running on The Clapper.

  • Ignoring the fact that we don't have the technology yet to put a viable GPS receiver into something that would fit into a wristwatch, wouldn't a watch that automatically changes time zones be nifty? Automatically keeps in synch whenever it's around a network providing NTP services?

    What about an alert device, a messaging end-point for critical monitoring services on your network. Forget sending a message to your pager (20 seconds to 5 minutes or more delivery time), just send a UDP packet to a process on your watch, and get an instant alert or textual page right then and there. Respond with equal ease.

    Granted, these things could be done with specialized software specifically designed from scratch to be put into a watch, but why re-invent when you can re-use? Linux provides the perfect framework for all sorts of experimentation like this. That's what makes it cool.
  • Expanding upon the other reply to this post, in order to do any real CLI interaction with it, I imagine you'd have to connect a real input device. The screen/wheel or whatever other buttons the watch would posess are probably meant to interact with applications designed for the watch. They don't expect you to be interacting with a shell prompt during normal usage, they expect you to have a "watch" app running and handling input via the standard interface.

    Besides, how geeky would it look to have a big bulky keyboard (even laptop-sized or smaller) connected via a thin ribbon cable to a tiny screen strapped to your wrist. Imagine how annoying it would be to type and watch the screen at the same time. Heh.
  • Sounds like the Spanish pseudo-word "culómetro", which means "ass-meter"... Oh, well, such is the way of human languages...
  • I worked last summer as an intern at IBM's Almaden Research Center []. Even though this is a "pure" research facility, and even though my team's product had been in development since (if I recall correctly) 1994 without being integrated into a commercial product, the Powers That Be wouldn't let us release the code--at all. Then again, I recently read that the product (WBI) was made into a transcoding engine, which is probably reaping IBM some bucks. So maybe they were being shrewd anyway.

    The point is, IBM is interested in open source only insofar as it makes money. While I was there, I attended a seminar on open- source software run by one of IBM's hot intellectual property lawyers, where he did nothing but warn us about the "viral" nature of the GPL and LGPL and advise us about how to circumvent it.

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • Here's the real link for the Slashdot article about the transcoder [].

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • But then again a stripped down kernel might be small enough that its not worth reinventing the wheel for an embedded resource/process manager. Anyone have any figures for exactly how big the kernel in that puppy was? I think the memory stored in it was sort of overkill as well. Better to cut down the memory and increase the battery life. This is definitely a place that Crusoe-style power management technology would also be a win. Let the CPU in the thing only use as much power as it needed at any given moment.

    Even so there are advantages to using Linux. It means the API is open and programmers can go and set up their own programs to run in the watch as well. Not that I can see a huge range of programs that people would want to run in their watch. A PDA is slightly more usable in that regard for general computing. But no doubt others will manage to think of uses for such a system beyond simple databases and pager/appointment notification. Oh yes, and telling the time as well.

    But the interface shown in that one picture we had the other day won't cut it. You don't want any of the conventional command line shells here. GUIs won't hack it here either, I don't think. This is one of those cases where I think you'd be better off defining the thing as a TERM of some sort and uses curses or something similar to manipulate the screen. And I'm being unimaginative when I say that I can't quite see the full point of a color bitmap display there, but I'll say it anyway. A postage stamp screen just doesn't give you much manuvering room for graphics. A PDA is nearing the bottom end in my personal taste on such things.

    The inputs are going to be the buttons on the watch. At best you can make them analog buttons and get some degree of pressure sensitivity but that is all. Something like a calculator watch isn't going to hack it. And given a bunch of other problems I don't see voice input on these things either. Too awkward holding your wrist up to your mouth. That defeats the whole purpose to having something on your wrist.

    Its an interesting proof of concept but needs a bit of work in the usability area.
  • by CWCarlson ( 2884 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @05:04AM (#871835)
    I checked out that link, and was surprised to see that the feature list included:

    "Dairy alarm"

    Now *that's* an odd thing for a watch to do. Does it let you know when your milk is going bad? When you're getting close to a lactating animal? I'm confused.

    Of course, I'm also off-topic. Oh, well...

    --- Chris
  • Not really. Display in your glasses, twiddler in your pocket. Totally unseen. It exists right now, only at an outrageous price.
  • "up to something" AND "having fun", in part because it was Ambuj who approved releasing the source for Jikes and Postfix, two of IBM's first open-source projects.

    Jikes Project
  • Even normal digital watches are becoming less fashionable now - analouge watches are definately in. Who wants a brick strapped to their wrist? The problem with making a usable wearable computer is that it has to be big enough for input and output (okay, unless you use speech recognition/synthesis but that throws up a whole host of other problems) and once you reach that usable minimum size it just looks... well... geeky.
  • Sure it's useless.

    No it's not. I can think of a couple dozen uses for a computer that size, especially with an RF communications link. I'll admit, though, that none of them involve strapping the thing to my wrist. (But I'm sure those straps would come off easy enough...)
  • With linux on a watch the biggest problem is the UI Small screen and buttons are more problems than good. They should at least increase to a more reasonable size. Like maybe half of your forearm. Just a thought.
  • I'm all for testing limits, someone out there has to do it (whether you have a lot of money or just a workspace in your garage), but one question comes to mind about the push for more devices running Linux in the home, etc.

    Is the shortage of UNIX-savvy folks still a problem, and if so, is the gap between demand and supply of UNIX people widening with all these new applications? Growth market for us UNIX weenies, but if the plumber has to be a sysadmin in the future, are we going to run out of plumbers?
  • Well, gee, if I ever feel like I've ODed on sarcasam I know a place that could do with the excess...
  • Linux, takes a licking, keeps on ticking!

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • I would love to have a Linux based watch capable of the following:
    • Cell Phone (a la Dick Tracy)[1]
    • Palm Pilot capabilities (touch screen + grafiti or similar handwriting recognition system)
    • MP3 playback and sufficient storage for lots of music on the go
    • Digital camera capabilities (camera in wristband, watch face as greyscale or color viewfinder, button on side to take snapshot)
    • The above, with a second microcamera in the watch face to facilitate "video phone" cababilities
    • GPS with moving map (color preferred)
    • Wireless internet capabilities. Quick access to email, the web (low res, but for quick and dirty info gathering that would be fine), etc.
    • Ability to access a command line interface (on a different VC from the palm-like watch interface) and write commands using grafiti -- a quick and dirty way to ssh into remote machines and do admin work as needed, while on the go.
    • Ability to auto-sync with atomic clocks, use GPS to detect timezones (and don't forget odd timezones like portions of Indiana and Nepal's 15 minute difference from India.)
    • Of course, that means I'd like it to tell time, too. :-)

    The nice thing about using Linux is that it scales to all of these levels, has the flexibility to allow third parties to add capabilities later, has a huge installed user and developer base to mine for cool applications, is incredibly stable and reliable, and is powerful enough to facilitate uses none of us have yet thought of (multi-user capabilities to allow users to securely move data between watches, lend watches to friends without having to worry about the privacy of their own data, etc. etc.). Give it a nice, friendly palm like GUI and it would be a truly killer app.

    [1]Video Phone capabilities optional :-)
  • Baring the fact that it is a wrist watch, the core technology for this device has to have the wearable croud drooling. Remember IBM is endevering to enhance this device so it can run several days without a recharge. Add a head mounted display and externalized finger pad and up have a wearable uber toy.

    I think it is cool.
  • I can see it now. Airplanes will be refusing to push back from the gate because people can't figure out how to turn off their watch.

  • I think it's good to get insight on what is to come. this reminds me of when honda has their design olimpics and engineers are allowed to come up with the wierdest modes of transport. it stretches the brain and opens more venues for inovation. ofcourse it's not practical but soon technology will catch up with the idea. me dream is to live to afford a pocket pc that straps to your arm, monitors yoru vital signs, which has a eyeglass heads up, which is totally undetectable, then uses the focus of yrou eyes to detect mouse movements. then ofcourse voice recognition and an attachable keyboard like interface. then have remote wireless network stations like cell phones do that way yoru constantly connected. just teh thought of being able to communicate like that.

    <eyes bulging out> ooohh the possibilities.
  • by crumley ( 12964 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:56AM (#871849) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone seen this a href=" dio/ibm_linux-02.avi" commercial on TV yet? If they put it on TV, it would really prove that IBM is going to try to push Linux, much more than this watch does.
  • Is IBM up to something? Probably just selling hardware that they don't have to cut some software vendor in on.

    IBM has always been about pushing Big Iron. (For appropriate values of "Big".). Even if they make more money off Software and Services, the company culture seems to revolve around hardware sales. Or, perhaps more precisely "Integrated System Sales".

    Linux is another sales point -- it runs on pretty much all their hardware now, and it gives them another way to relatively cheaply leverage the value of their hardware ERR "Integrated System Solutions" for their costomers.

  • xdaliclock [] -cycle.

    now that would be a fun wristwatch
  • I mean it....
    I do NOT want to see this in the stores...

    I hear just about enough about problems with "Linux" that are problems in ONE distrobution, problems that no longer exist or problems that exist in the PC hardware design not in Linux.
    [This on top of the FUD]

    I do not need to be told how horrid Linux is by former Linux watch users...

    Great proof of consept... wonderful.. Linux on a watch. Horray. It's done.. now stuff it in the nearest trash receptical and work on some other neat toy.
  • What a great idea! Too bad the Japanese have had devices like that for about two years.

    Why too bad? Good for them. But I bet we could make it better and more "open", if what they have is anything like the phone services I know.

    PS: No, not "ribit": coâa, coâa (French frog)
  • The watches also include an infrared and wireless radio connection and a touch-screen display.
    This could make meeting interesting people a lot easier.
    Imagine you're at a public place (a bar, a conference, a bus). Your watch contains some things you're interested in or that make you interesting (let's say you speak a weird language, have some furniture you want to sell, loved Stephen King's latest novel, are looking for someone to go white-water rafting next week). This information is continuously broadcast from your watch. Other people wearing/using a similar device can see a small picture of you if something catches their interest. They can then walk up to you and start up a conversation. Or if they're shy, call you or send an instant message.
  • "On one hand, they're bulkier, and the rechargeable lithium-polymer battery lasts only two to four days"

    Whoever said in reply to the last article that you'd be better off with a mobile phone in damn near all situations pretty much had it pegged.

    I /really/ can't picure myself remembering to plug in my frigging watch every couple of nights.
  • Some years ago, I read that there was more computing power in a particular digital watch than there had been in the whole world in 1962!

    This article has made me think about that more deeply - nowadays, there is more computing power in this digital watch than in a 10 year old PC.

    As Jeffrey Harrow [] would say, "We've only just begun!".

    "Give the anarchist a cigarette"
  • now i just need to whip up a little perl script to calculate blackjack odds, install it on my watch, and they'll never catch me!

    much subtler then whipping out your palm pilot or TI-80!
  • "Leaving aside the questions of what point is there running Linux on a wristwatch since this is a "proof of concept"...the fact of the matter is that human computer interaction is woefully lacking at the moment."

    From your first post. Note that you specifically left aside the topic of Linux and confined yourself to HCI issues. I responded to those and successfully refuted you.

    Now your question is "why Linux"? Why not? It's got all the items in place: software memory management for devices without the hardware, (wireless) networking, relatively simple API, access to much source code, very very portable. It's the ideal OS for research projects. And despite your claims, multi-process is very nice. I don't want the watch to stop telling time while it relays my secret conversation with Mata Hari. Multi-user is (on the face of it) less useful--but there's no bloat involved--additional users are just additional processes, which is already being handled.
  • "However, the physical components we use to interact with a computer are not the only problem."


    "...more of the problem lies with the actual interfaces (ie: GUIs)." False.

    "Most GUIs fall short or delievering a natural way of navigating, controlling and interacting with a computer."

    How do we know that there ARE any natural (for humans) way to interact with a computer? A computer is totally unlike anything in evolutionary history, it wouldn't surprise me one bit to learn that most (all?) people just plain CAN'T comprehend it.
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:23AM (#871860)
    So because it would be difficult (impossible?) to interact with the computer, the computer is useless? Let's see what you think after I remove all microchips from your home, car and workplace.

    How would Linux on a watch be useful?

    Telemetry: A million uses summed up in one word. Spies gathering intelligence. Scientists/Doctors gathering data (from the environment and/or from the wearer). Security officers (including police). Tracking/homing.

    Data access: Sure, you can't do much general computing--but every (digital) watch has buttons. How about a "what's my current location" button with some GPS software installed? How about a modified Timex DataLink that links DIRECTLY to my PC (wirelessly)?

    Communication: We laugh about Dick Tracy, but cellphone small enough to wear on your wrist would be revolutionary.

    I thought of all the above while I was writing it. Surely someone who is actually involved in the field will think of many many more immediate uses. Then there is the "new platform" effect: Once everyone has a watch running Linux, what else becomes possible? No one predicted the Internet would explode once everybody had a PC...
  • by Masker ( 25119 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:12AM (#871861)
    Linux is a clone of Unix whose programming instructions can be modified -- which is the reason IBM chose the operating system for the project

    I know that IBM has been working for decades trying to modify the mystical "programming instructions" for AIX, and have been unsuccessful to date. Even multi-billion dollar companies have been unable to change their own operating systems. =)

  • A dial or two to turn around and a few buttons. I think that can take you pretty far!
  • Who really knows. Make the thing available, and let the market sort everything out. Was the Palm Pilot was too feature-rich to be of use? Are mobile MP3 players of any use? Does anyone actually need 8+ hours of battery time for a laptop? Do users need more computing speed?

    Release the thing. The market will discover uses. When the laser was invented, it was billed as "a solution in search of a problem." The wristwatch form factor may not be what folks are after, but the size might be.
  • Hey, how about using this to put a 1983 era mainframe on your wrist? According to the article on the linux->mainframe emulator I read the other day (see the mainframe runs nicely on 8 megs of ram.

    Anyone running MVS on their wrist would have to qualify as cool.
  • Yep. Judge Jackson was right. Microsoft has a monopoly and there are no contenders. Yet.
    Everything I've seen about IBM indicates that they are in it for the long haul. Expect IBM to gradually take a more and more pro-Linux stance. Probably decided that the timing wasn't quite right just yet.
  • I do not want to give up multi-user, even if the only user is me. A multi-user OS _must_ give some kind of protection to users from each other. Single user tends to much to "I trust myself".
    Certain core (root) processes should be protected from anything the user _can_ throw at them. The watch is a good idea, to see how far they can push it , and what the consequences are.
  • Linux on a watch seems like an excellent idea in itself, but bulky digital watches have to provide some application beyond simply telling the time and scheduling appointments to be cool. I am the proud owner of a Casio Protrek GPS watch which has to be one of the largest and ugliest watches ever created (See the image here []), yet gets far more attention than your average Rolex. The new Casio camera and MP3 watches are also looking good.

    So a Linux watch that ran MAME or even Mozilla via the IR link would have enough street cred to allow you to answer the "wow, what a huge watch, what does it do, is it an electronic tag, are you on parole?" type questions. Something that size that allows you have a to-do list unfortunatly dosn't.
  • They already have this in Japan. Singles looking to meet other singles have some sort of gizmo that lets them set their interests (romantic dinners, long walks on the beach, that kind of thing) and then if they are near someone who has the same interests it tells them.

    But obviously this would be a real computer on your wrist, and you could load it up with any software you like. So it's a lot more flexible than any specialized equipment.

    Of course people are just going to put Tamagotchi and Tetris on it...


    On the screenshots, it doesn't actually display the time anywhere...
    Not the point, I know.. ;-)

  • And if Arnold Schwarzenegger starts wearing it, could it then be considered StrongARM powered?
  • Well, with regards to the communication aspect, it's been done. :)

    Check this watch [] from Samsung out. :)
  • Like I implied yesterday - Linux on a watch is nothing new:

    A GNU/Linux Wristwatch Videophone []
  • So, when can we get the Dilbert ring with which we can surf the net one character at a time?
  • I'd prefer vibrating. :)

  • by CrayDrygu ( 56003 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:06AM (#871875)
    The watches run on an ARM-based...processor...

    Of course.


  • "Linux is a clone of Unix" Looks like Linux developers are now also to be considered geneticists...
    ---------------------------------- ---------
  • I liked the link you pointed us to, especially the feature us farmers have been waiting for - the "Dairy Alarm". 649 dollars well spent I'd say.

  • by Sammeh ( 74204 )
    could you imagine an apache server on your wristwatch? gave you a small shock for massage every time you got a webpage hit lololol =)
  • If they don't distribute their application, they don't have to release the source. The GPL allows for internal use without redistribution.

    [Note that the QPL does not have this clause; technically, everyone who rights an extension to QT is in violation of the license until they release the code -- even if they're only using it internally (e.g. when it's not done yet). They are required instead to pay a large fee for usage of the "professional edition". Since this is turning into a rant about QT anyway, let me just say that you're never going to get truly cross-platform code with the QPL because windoze use requires the professional edition also. GTK for windows may suck at the moment, but it eventually will be a good, free toolkit for windoze and *nix. QT has no such chance.]
  • Right now I'm working temporarily for IBM, and some of their internal policies reveal that they haven't gotten around to embracing gpled stuff fully. Specifically, I am not allowed to download any gpled code in source form if I am doing development, but of course this is because of the fact that we are working on commercial products, and IBM's source is still one of it's primary assets. On a positive note, though, IBM's alphaworks division has donated lots of useful code to the community, specifically the project. Also, IBM has promised a new policy real soon now on gpled code, so IBM may in the future really embrace it, but of course, I'm not high up, so I don't know :P
  • Isn't it interesting, how everyone starts to play with Linux nowadays. I never saw such Windows products or experiments. Linux is not just an OpSys it may be magic. *g*

    BTW, I am still waiting for my Linux powered roller pen.
  • Uh.. uh.. uhhh

    Damn, I wish Beavis & Butthead came back!
  • by AndyL ( 89715 )
    If had read the article you'd see that this was being done for the purposes of a tech demo. It was an enginering project for the purpose of develping smaller and more embedable components.

    The purpose is not Just to run linux to tell the time. I think we all realise that.
  • Yeah, that would be a nasy combination when two t's are accidentally mistaken for d's and the u comes out as a v :) Pete
  • You mean... a B***olf cluster of those things? We could tell time like nobody's business!
  • by cyberm ( 94048 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:12AM (#871886)
    The watch can tell time...

    Hey that's real innovation!

  • ...if they show a couple small lines on an LCD display, one for the current minute, and a second, shorter one for the hour. Then place the numbers 1-12 around the perimeter to represent the hour, with 5 dots inbetween to represent minutes.

    They could even put a little knob on the side; and when you pull it out and turn it, you can set the time.

  • "It looks legit, but it's still looks pretty impractical (despite scoring many points on the old cool-o-meter)"
    Silly rabbit. Being impractical actually adds a few points to the cool-o-meter.
  • Ok.... let me get this straight....

    They've made a wrist watch that has more power then my Mom's computer?

    I love technology!!!!

    How soon can I get one plugged into my brain running off my body's checmical engery?

    Oh... if I could only retake my math exams!!! :)

    "I trust in my abilities,
  • by bfree ( 113420 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @05:16AM (#871890)
    Before Linux, IBM's research group had lost its enthusiasm for operating system work, Goyal said. Linux, though, is ideal for research environments because its open-source nature encourages innovation that's not hobbled by licensing negotiations, he said.
    I adored this quote also. It shows exactly why gnu/linux is able to go further than any other system.....and why it will. IBM produces good products, maybe not outstanding but not often awful. They are a huge company and you know their researchers are good, and you know that IBM are not going to have too many licensing problems on this world (imagine IBM and RMS asking M$ for windows source, who would have the problems :-). Despite their position however, their researchers want to work with linux (if this is to be believed, and personally I do) because of the lack of licensing issues, so they obviously don't see the GPLs viral nature as a problem. If this attitude is not being discouraged, then IBM are shifting to a GPL based development (in the long term) where their code will be the worlds code and again they might be restored to their monopoly/top billing position (SGI might be fighting them for it though). To a company like IBM the decision of whether to "gamble" on GPLing code must be far far easier than to all the other small players in the market who do not have the resources to sacrifice any income.
    Maybe they are simply going to research on gnu/linux and then rewrite everything to their current operating system of choice.......they wouldn't, would they?
  • IBM already mentioned that it's not being created for consumer use. It's being to made to see 'Wow, what cool things can we do with Linux to gain support/publicity'. But, that being said, I'm impressed.
  • Guys, it's coming more gradually than we all expected, but this article to me isn't about putting Linux on a watch.

    It's about how EVERYONE is getting enthused about linux and open source.

    We are watching the public and the best computing firms switch to/embrace Linux.

    I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited about Tux growing up! :0)
  • *yawn* Everyone misses the one cool point about a watch like this <G>

    If.. the battery life can be turned into something reasonable..

    This thing can update the time for itself like windows does, it can tell when you change time zones via GPS and always know to change times and update itself for spring/fall

    Or just having a way to communicate with some of these cellular phone networks to sync its time(that is probably a whole new ball of wax tho :)

    I think the trick is getting the battery life to something reasonable while keeping the time updates real time..

    I am not familiar with ARM processors, is this feasible anyone?


    If you think education is expensive, try ignornace
  • I think it's amazing that you got that far into the article and stopped. Didn't you see the part, right after that, where they said that batteries lasting several months would be available shortly?
  • Although this is cool (k3wl, whatever) I don't think that 'committed' is the best way to describe this. If you're looking for IBM being committed, check out the recent stuff about running linux on virtual procesors in the OS/390 systems. That's committed.

  • "This is an exercise in engineering. They're not going to release it commercially at this point,"

    You've got to wonder what else IBM have cooking behind the scenes. It's highly likely that they are developing some brilliant new technology and keeping it quiet, until it's 5 - 10 years in development and then 'bam!', they'll take out the whole IT industry with a massive technology monopoly.

    Now that I think of it, there are more than a few companies with a lot of excess cash to throw around. The mind reels, eh.


  • [snip] and they don't get all moist in the pants when something like a watch is said to be coming out that has they're favourite OS installed on it.[snip]
    IF you succeed installing Win on a wristwatch you'd still need the three additional keys... Sorry, but that's a fact, man... :-)

    Thank you.
    "No se rinde el gallo rojo, sólo cuando ya está muerto."

  • Humm, Steve Mann has developed a Linux powered wrist watch back in 1998. It was published in the July 2000 Linux Journal as well. 3.html
  • From the article:

    The watch can tell time...

    Am I missing something groundbreaking and revolutionary here?
  • Three words: DNA-derived personality simulations. [http]

    Or is that four? Or six if you expand the acronym?

    Who knows.
  • Kind of ruins the post I guess. This [] is the real link.
  • I don't know much about this stuff, but does anyone know how much it's like the PS7110? I only ask because of the Linux7k Project []. Would this be helpful to them at all?

    Chris the MathFreak
  • In addition, the company is considering using Linux in its upcoming Blue Gene supercomputer

    I would be VERY impressed with linux if it would scale up to the level of running on a 2^20 cpu machine. Yes that really is 1,048,576 processors (plus a few extra redundant ones). IBM intend to build a computer capable of a Petaflop or a quadrillion floating point ops a second.

    Forget linux on wrist watches - we all knew it could do that, this is the real story.

    But at the end of the day all we really want to know is how fast the Quake3 timedemo runs on bluegene :)
  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @05:18AM (#871904) Homepage Journal
    This was mentioned in the previous article [], but at All Linux Devices [], they have a story [] that amoung other things explains how to use the watch. It's a combination of the touch-sensitive screen, and a little dial next to it. It also has an X server built in to the default install. The picture [] of the watch shows it running some shell (prob. just sh, but I can't tell - not enough shown), so it IS possible to enter data. It sounds like they really expect it to be used by typing data at your desktop and downloading it to the watch. Actually, the real use of this was just to show that you could run Linux on a watch, they aren't planning on anything else with it.

    They may also have thought that the watch could have an overly simplified menu system, and display data as requested. Since it is just a prototype demonstrating that it's possible to run Linux on a wrist-watch, it makes sense that the user interface isn't well thought out yet. If they ever planned on marketting it, they'd probably need to add some more buttons. Plus the battery only lasts two to three days, making it not the most useful of watches.

  • This article really brings back memories, of the linux geeks that got arrested and put linux on a trasistor radio or something. =) heh, Althought I think that it's mad cool, it's practically useless...
  • IBM currently has the most patents of any company in the US (world too I would assume) and currently issues more patents than any company each year.

    This is one of the reasons why.
  • IBM has surely done some modifications to the linux kernel in order get it up and running on this little watch.

    Since the kernel code is GPL'd, IBM should release their modifications or am i wrong ?
  • of a quality hand-crafted, finely-tuned, swiss kernel...


  • Fair enough. I can agree that there may not be any natural (ie: intuitive) way to interact with a computer. There are very few (if any) machines or even tools that are purely intuitive. However, I feel that there are much better (read: easier) ways to interact with a computer. For example, using this Linux powered watch to monitor your pulse and note any irregularities and from there suggest a course of action. I don't know if that would work, but it's an example of a method of interaction that would be easier than our current methods.
  • by Penguin_99 ( 169189 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:34AM (#871910)
    I agree with you 100%. However, the physical components we use to interact with a computer are not the only problem. True that the keyboards and mice are not the most intuitive of devices, but I think that more of the problem lies with the actual interfaces (ie: GUIs). Most GUIs fall short or delievering a natural way of navigating, controlling and interacting with a computer. We have to learn to look past the typical idea of a computer consisting of a 17" monitor, a large box to which all the paripherals connect to a machine that people can interact with and incorporate into their everyday lives without changing their habits. The goal (of software development and computer design) should not be to use the system but to create computers and software that are unabtrusive and fit into peoples everyday lives without the people having to change and mold around the computer.
  • by streetlawyer ( 169828 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:02AM (#871911) Homepage
    Woman repellent?
  • The following items have been proposed for inclusion of Linux by IBM, after the success of the wristwatch:

    - Clapper
    - ToasterPPC
    - Christmas lights
    - Vibrating bed by Debian (supporting multiple concurrent processes for menage a trois)
    - Scissors
    - Marv Albert's toupee

  • Ambuj Goyal, vice president of IBM research:

    I couldn't read past that sentence, due to the infinite bogosity of it.

  • Ambuj Goyal, vice president of IBM research:
    "Linux is a clone of Unix whose programming instructions can be modified"

    What the buggerybollocks does that mean?
    I couldn't read beyond that sentence.

    (should've previewed last time I guess, ooops)


  • Can you imagine how it would feel wearing a Pentium III on your wrist? You'd want to pour your coffee on your arm to cool off!
  • by Corty ( 186595 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:35AM (#871916)
    Windows Watch: Hand moves anti-clockwise, only some numbers are shown and requires time setting every half hour.

    Mac Watch: Straps to leg, made of transparent material and sphere rolls instead of hands to indicate global postion in relation to the Sun.

    Sun Watch: Hands spin too damn fast too read.

  • Can anyone think of any good uses for this yet?

    Yeap. A few good uses actually. Don't think of "The linux watch" think of it's components:
    1) The linux operating system cut down to run an embedded system on an extremely small piece of hardware.
    2) The small hardware. A wristwatch sized piece of equipment made by IBM to brag about their advances in shrinking the size of equipment.
    3) The marketing. Non computer users and newbies know about watches. They are small. The fact that a computer can be the size of a watch gets more "Oooh" and "Ahhh" from the public than say...a computer the size of a 286 chip. It makes IBM look really good to make a device like this and the average person will remember it better than doubling the RPM's in a disk drive, or making a 2GHZ processor.

    I think it's a good idea, and even though the watch itself is pretty useless, it's a good practice for them, and hopefully it precedes something useful.

  • <Random person>Excuse me, do you have the time?

    <Linux Watch user>Yes, just a sec

    Tue Aug 8 10:
    <BATT LOW>
    <BATT LOW>

    DAMN! I would swear I recharged it last night! Well, it's ten something, does that help?

    <Random person> Umm, yea. Thanks (runs away)

  • For 2 reasons, I really appreciate the final quote from this article :
    Before Linux, IBM's research group had lost its enthusiasm for operating system work, Goyal said.
    Linux, though, is ideal for research environments because its open-source nature encourages innovation that's not hobbled by licensing negotiations, he said.

    1. I hope they are sincere and that this is not only to get rid of this old Big Brother reputation, though we mostly agree on IBM products quality.
    2. Because it rhymes.

  • Maybe they are simply going to research on gnu/linux and then rewrite everything to their current operating

    ...For the following reasons:
    1. Linux is cool. IBM know it and works with it. BTW, IBM also worked in order to adapt their Intellistations to BeOS (see the result here []).
      Conclusion, if it's good, IBM will work with it, however reluctant the "partner is". (In this case, Be wouldn't help IBM as they had too much to do with their own stuff, that's why IBM contacted distributors and bypassed Be Inc.)
    2. They are known for their machines quality : I remember productive 80286 Xenix servers that still work perfectly along fabrication chains in factories.
    3. They are also known for their developments: Compare the performances of the JDK1.2.2 that came with the Caldera OpenLinux2.4 and the one that was made by IBM.
    4. IBM has patented loads of things. In fact, IIRC, they have an entry about this in the Guinness book of records. So, they are innovative (even if patents may be "stolen" - these are not my words - , all of these can't obviously have some irregular origin).
    5. IBM doesn't focus on manufacturing products or computer. They are rather, IMHO, an R&D company. Which means that they are asked to develop solutions for a given problem ; hence the watch, hence the PC (The problem was : "Give me a quick and dirty computer to type some letters on"), hence Big crack, hence Kasparov defeat (Actually, this was a consequence of their researches in both AI and supercomputing), hence more advanced solutions...
    6. IBM are known for projects which might not be paying before decades (e.g. 3D mollecular synthesis in some Swiss labs). So, who seriously think he will be here to collect the big bucks ?
    Anyway, they are powerful but want us to trust them. Just do it. because in this case this also helps validating the concept of Free Software.
  • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:22AM (#871930)
    Having read the articles and looked at the pictures, how do I use the thing??? There's no keyboard, no stylus/grafiti thing, just an IR and radio comm thing. It syays it has a touch screen, but does it do handwriting recognition or something? no mention of this. So do I pull out my Palm and IR link to type in commands? Or do I need to bring my wireless keyboard with me? I will believe that there *might* be uses (I haven't found any) if I can use it somehow.

  • by Dan Hayes ( 212400 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2000 @04:05AM (#871933)

    This may have the "coolness" factor, but it has precious little else in the way of utility. Leaving aside the questions of what point is there running Linux on a wristwatch since this is a "proof of concept" (i.e. scientists being paid to muck around with stuff they like), the fact of the matter is that human computer interaction is woefully lacking at the moment.

    Until we can offer some alternative to the anachronistic technologies we are using today to interact with computers (keyboards? mice? not exactly intuitive for Joe Sixpack are they?) extending the domain for computers is going to fail.

    We desparately need a new paradigm in HCI, because the ones we have at the moment just aren't applicable to things like wearable computers.

    P.S. And I don't mean voice control either.

  • Combine Telemetry and GPS and you have a "seeing-eye-watch" for the visually impaired (or blind for forward thinking people). I would think that a device that could tell you you are moving "North" down the "1600 block" of "Maple Street" and you are about to step out into the street in front of an on-coming bus, might be a practical application.

New systems generate new problems.