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IBM's Linux Wristwatch

IBM plans to work on reducing the size of the X Server to sub 1MB using the latest release -- 4.4.1. Fonts were another major issue. The reason being that the wristwatch had a LCD panel, whereas the X Server would require a VGA driver for display. This called for the researchers at IBM Bangalore to write their own fonts. The solution was writing a driver that would emulate a VGA display over the LCD display. The LCD display offers a maximum resolution of 96 x 120 and that too with a Portrait display.

The watch uses the ADS 7843 (BurrBrown) touch screen display, using which one can map the whole screen with respect to the four quadrants. Thus a touch on the upper screen panel is captured and depending on the co-ordinates captured, the requisite application is run. Users can also interact with the watch with a Roller Wheel. We have to admit that the X server on the Linux watch is a piece of art especially, when you see it displaying all the various pixmaps and the software applications that the watch runs.

The PIM (Personal Information Manager) that the watch runs, was developed at IBM's T.J. Watson research center and has an approximate memory footprint of about 51kb. The PIM consists of an organizer, WML browser, to-do list and a calculator. In future it would have the capacity to read condensed e-mail messages too.

IBM's plan of application development for the watch comprises the ability to write his /her own applications, if the owner so desires. And with the underlying Operating System being Linux, we don't see any dearth of tools available to develop such applications. IBM has made a wise decision in providing an Open platform for developers to work on, as this just exponentially increases the kind of applications the wristwatch can be used for.

As far as connectivity is concerned the researchers have solved the problem by providing IR (Infra Red) support and Radio Frequency Wireless connectivity. The wristwatch even supports the latest Blue Tooth protocol to communicate with intelligent devices around it. For synchronizing content with your laptop / personal computer, you may use either the Infra Red support or the Communication ports (COM ports) on the docking station to interface with your laptop/pc. The docking station is also designed to re-charge the batteries.