IBM boffins put Linux on very large wrist watch

But what's it for?

IBM has announced that it's put Linux onto a "smart watch" in order to demonstrate that the OS can scale down to small devices. But it's only a research demo, and not intended as a product.

Which from the sound of it is maybe just as well. It's a fat watch, for starters. It's 56mm x 48mm x 12.25mm, which from where we're sitting sounds more like what you get when you cross a wristwatch with a pack of cigarettes. And the hardware spec doesn't exactly sound like it's a triumph of downward scaling - it has eight megs of flash, eight megs of DRAM and "contains a powerful processor", type unspecified.

At some point in the future that might be the sort of hardware that's commercially viable in a smart watch, but today it's more of a communicator-level spec, and it hasn't shrunk Linux markedly further than we knew it could shrink already.

Inside it has RF and IR communication with PCs and mobile phones, calendar, address book and to-do list functions, and a measure of email. It can view condensed messages and receive pager-like ones. Obviously if anybody ever went commercial with a device like this it would need the comms to be a bit more convincing; it could have a mobile phone or similar inside, or given the strong likelihood of some useful Bluetooth products actually having shipped by the time this happens, it could simply have a Bluetooth link to the mobile in your pocket, and get the email from there.

Ah yes, but at that point you spot another reason why this is IBM researchers playing in the sandbox, rather than a product. If you've got a mobile phone in your pocket with a larger display, why do you want to read your email on your watch? And if you haven't got a mobile in your pocket, don't you want to be able to use your watch as one? Back to the drawing board... where IBM's boffins are planning version 2 with a high res screen and Web access. But we bet it's still not a product. ®

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