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Toshiba shows off wearable devices

Computers you can hang round your neck -- what will they think of next?

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CeBIT 2000 In five years' time we'll be wearing PCs around our necks or carrying them rolled up in our pockets -- at least according to Toshiba we will. Toshiba brought over some of its top designers from Japan to this year's CeBIT to show off what it thinks the future holds for computer development. And that future, according to Toshiba is small, bendy and heavily reliant on Bluetooth technology. One of the items on show within the tightly-guarded glass cases in Hanover today was the Dynasheet 2005. This prototype is based on a flexible LCD screen that can be pulled down and unrolled from inside a silver tube. The computer uses a touch screen, and Toshiba aims to use Bluetooth to enable an optional keyboard to be connected. Minoru Ohara, a design specialist with the company's packaging technology department in Tokyo, said the machine could be on the market in the next two to three years, priced at $1000-2000. But he added that the idea was also dependent on several technical hurdles being overcome, including the development of a fully flexible LCD screen. More ideas from Toshiba included a pendant PC. This machine would be worn on a strap around the neck, and the idea is that the strap will have an electronic cable inside, offering voice-recognition through a hidden microphone. It will also have "branches" that act as earphones. The PC, circular in design and around three inches in diameter, will not be on the market for at least five years. It is also proposed to use the machine as a mobile news service, where it would filter headlines or adverts relevant to the user. Also on show was a mobile phone that could be split into two parts. The design is based on the idea of keeping the handset as light as possible -- so it is able to be detached from the main body of the phone, which can then be kept in the user's pocket or bag. Acting as the lynch pin throughout all these expected wearable devices is the development of Bluetooth. As Katsuhiko Onai, a specialist with Toshiba's specialist design group, pointed out: "Everybody is waiting for Bluetooth to develop." ®

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