Q: When is a Palm device not a Palm device?
A: When you can wear it on your wrist.
Thatis where Fossil, maker of stylish watches, plans to release this year, a PDA watch. The company hopes that its Palm OS device will considered the next gotta-have gadget. Wired News is running a story about the watch, its sibling which can receive data via Microsoftis SPOT technology, and the people behind the devices. Hereis a bit of the article titled Wrist-Top Revolution :
Fossil, the nationis biggest watchmaker, is on the case. Since its founding in 1985, the Richardson, Texas, company has come to own the American wrist - last year it made four out of every ten fashion watches sold in the US. It also clocked $650 million in sales, partly by expanding into everything from backpacks to sunglasses, and opened its own retail outlets. The companyis new ambition is to fuse fashion and information. In May, Fossil introduces a Palm PDA in a watch, complete with infrared data port and a stylus hidden in the band, followed in midsummer by a one-way data-radio model based on Microsoftis Smart Personal Objects Technology protocol, known as SPOT. The making of these watches is a story of unlikely partnerships at the nexus of consumer style and computer tech, manufacturing, and retail science. The results, Fossil executives hope, will open up a virgin segment of the marketplace to technology and change the way we think about our wrists.
If Fossil is at the center of a wrist-top revolution, the man who owns the silver Porsche parked outside any headquarters is the reason why. Clad in a GQ -ready ensemble of chunky-soled loafers, cable-knit tan turtleneck sweater, distressed blue jeans, and matching watch, Donald Brewer slumps in a conference room chair like P. Diddy without the entourage. Forgive the 32-year-old VP of technology development for feeling a bit smug. Heis just back from CES, where Bill Gates threw around terms like "super excited," "pretty amazing," and "magic" while brandishing the SPOT watch onstage during his keynote. Six weeks earlier the Fossil PDA watch won Best of Show at Comdex. Brewer feels like he has Dick Tracy nailed. "His watch is just a couple of basic ideas - the need to know the time and the need to get information," Brewer says. "But that combination is really compelling. Itis stuck in peopleis heads."
Josh McHugh, the author, goes on to detail how the watches came into being. Stop by Wired News for the full article, which I think is an extremely interesting read.
SPOT Watch being shown by Fossil
not appear to be of much interest to Mac users until you understand the implications of this and other SPOT devices that will soon be flooding the market.
Microsoftis SPOT technology seems simplistic but it really could have quite an impact on many day-to-day objects that we now take for granted. It is perhaps even an idea good enough for Apple to consider adopting.
Basically, SPOT is a protocol which uses a sub-band of ubiquitous FM radio signals to send information to devices; information flows one way. What information? It could be anything but the bandwidth appears to only be able to support text, so things like weather reports, news, and sports scores are ideal for SPOT savvy devices. The devices can be inexpensive to make and require very little power, so a SPOT device could be something as common as a watch, as is the case with Fossilis offering, or, as Big Redmondis founder, Bill Gates, pointed out when he presented the technology at this yearis CES, a refrigerator magnet.
The Fossil watches are cool but if Apple got hold of SPOT, we think we would definitely see spots of a different color, if youill pardon the pun. Depending on how the backend of SPOT operates, Apple could make SPOT a feature of .Mac, allowing tiny messages to be sent to SPOT enabled Apple branded devices, maybe even from your Mac via an Internet connection.
Itis not often that Microsoft comes up with a good idea -- actually, Microsoft didnit come up with SPOT, itis 20 year technology originally developed by Atari before itis demise -- but when the company does, Apple should be willing to step up to it and do what it does best; make it better than anyone else.