News Archive (1999-2012) | 2013-current at LinuxGizmos | Current Tech News Portal |    About   

Fact sheet ( and photos): IBM Linux wrist watch prototype

Aug 7, 2000 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 20 views

IBM Research today announced that the company has extended the reach of Linux to a device small enough to fit on your wrist. Over the last year, IBM has introduced Linux into a spectrum of new products, from laptop computers to mainframes. Meanwhile, IBM researchers have been busy applying Linux to a plethora of advanced development projects — from wrist watches to petaflop (1 quadrillion… operations/second) super computers. The Linux-based wrist watch prototype is intended to showcase IBM's commitment to Linux — making Linux scaleable in both directions — and also to assert IBM's leadership in the open source and open standards movements.

IBM claims its Linux wrist watch prototype represents the smallest self-contained device running Linux at this time. Here are three photos of the IBM wrist watch prototype: photo1, photo2, closeup.

IBM has issued the following fact sheet on the Linux wrist watch prototype, which describes its general features and hardware/software specifications . . .

IBM Linux Wrist Watch Fact Sheet

IBM researchers are successfully running Linux and X11 (a popular graphics library) on a device the size of a wrist watch, demonstrating the viability of the operating system across all platforms, from large enterprise servers, to medium-sized and small servers, workstations, desktop systems, laptops and now the smallest intelligent devices.

With Linux rapidly becoming an industry standard, it's important that developers be able to create new applications across all platforms, including pervasive devices, and the intent of IBM's research is to further that work.

Designed to communicate wirelessly with PCs, cell phones and other wireless-enabled devices, the “smart watch” will have the ability to view condensed email messages and directly receive pager-like messages. In addition, the watch will provide users with calendar, address book and to-do list functions. Future enhancements will include a high-resolution screen and applications that will allow the watch to be used as an access device for various Internet-based services such as up-to-the-minute information about weather, traffic conditions, the stock market, sports results and so on.

The watch contains a powerful processor along with eight megabytes of flash memory and another eight megabytes of dynamic random access memory. Users interact with the watch through a combination of a touch-sensitive screen and a roller wheel. The watch also has both IR and RF wireless connectivity.

Among the technologies IBM is developing for small pervasive devices are packaging, displays, processors, hardware encryption, low power systems, wireless protocols, user interfaces, privacy models, middleware, and applications. Other devices that could leverage these technologies include PDAs, smart identification badges, and other wearable devices.

Several benefits accrue from the use of Linux in small pervasive devices. The availability of source code and a well-understood application programming environment makes it easy for students, researchers, and software companies to add new features and develop applications.


  • Linux operating system version 2.2
  • X11 R6
  • Size:
    • Watch: 56 mm wide by 48 mm long by 12.25 mm thick (2.20 in. x 1.89 in. x 0.48 in.)
    • Motherboard: 27.5 mm wide by 35.3 mm long (1.08 in. x 1.39 in.)
  • Weight: 44 gms (approx. 1.5 ounces)
  • Touch sensitive display
  • 8MB Flash memory, 8MB DRAM memory
  • IrDA, Radio Frequency wireless connectivity
  • Rechargeable lithium-polymer battery

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

Comments are closed.