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IBM and Citizen Watch develop Linux-based “WatchPad”

Oct 11, 2001 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 96 views

IBM Research and Citizen Watch have announced a collaboration through which Linux-based “WatchPad” prototypes and related technologies are being developed. This news item provides a copy of the two companies' announcement, along with a fact sheet on the first Linux-based WatchPad prototype (plus photos of the prototype) . . .


Tokyo — (press release excerpt) — Citizen Watch and IBM Research today announced that they have started the research collaboration on Linux Watch technology and jointly developed their first prototype, called “WatchPad” to further explore a new type of personal information access devices for the pervasive computing era. (enlarged photo available here)

IBM Research first demonstrated the Linux Watch last year, illustrating the viability of the operating system across all platforms, from large enterprise servers, to medium-sized and small servers, workstations, desktop systems, laptops and the smallest intelligent devices.

Citizen Watch is the first company that decided to work with IBM Research to enhance current features and develop new application technologies for the intelligent watch. Citizen Watch will explore the possibility of commercializing next generation watches as communication devices in the future. IBM Research will support Citizen Watch with its expertise in hardware and software, including system design, low power architecture, reliable and flexible IT infrastructure for future pervasive computing and communication applications.

Among the technologies Citizen Watch has developed for the WatchPad are packaging design and component design including display and input device. IBM Research has provided technologies including hardware architecture,
system design, and software, including Linux.

Two companies plan to collaborate with key universities by sharing the WatchPad technology for joint research. By working with universities, Citizen and IBM Research hope to accelerate progress in developing next generation intelligent devices.

Citizen/IBM WatchPad Prototype Fact Sheet

The watch contains a high speed, low power 32 bit MPU, 16 megabytes of flash memory, and QVGA liquid crystal display. The watch has both voice-enabled Bluetooth and infrared red wireless connectivities. Users interact with the WatchPad through a touch panel, button, and modified winding crown. In addition, accelerometer is embedded to study if arm movement to become a potential input method.

Key application features and future research technologies . . .

  • Wireless communications to be used as a pointing device to remotely operate presentation via a ThinkPad by using the winding crown switch, buttons, touch panel, and gesture using the accelerometer
  • Bluetooth short-range wireless connectivity, allowing users to control various devices, such as laptop computers.
  • Viewing email messages and calendar entries.
  • Bluetooth voice channel and the vibrator, allowing users to send voice commands to other computer and receive responses, paging, or alerts in voice or vibration. Text can be used as well.
  • Fingerprint sensor to identify the watch's owner, replacing password.
Key hardware features . . .
  • QVGA (320 x 240 dots) reflective monochrome liquid crystal display
  • Modified winding crown switch and a button which can be operated by a thumb
  • Bluetooth short range wireless connectivity (voice-enabled)
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Accelerometer sensor switch acts according to arm movement
  • Extended internal battery life
  • A cradle which can accommodate standard AA
  • Latest Linux kernel version 2.4 used as operating system, Microwindows for GUI.
WatchPad Specifications . . .
  • Hardware:

    • Size: 65mm x 46mm x 16mm
    • Weight: 43g (without wrist band)
    • CPU: High speed, low power 32 bit MPU (18-74 MHz)
    • Input devices: Touch panel, a winding crown switch, button
    • Display: 320 x 240 dots, monochrome liquid crystal display
    • Memory: 8MB low power DRAM, 16MB flash
    • Interfaces: Bluetooth wireless technology (v1.1, voice-enabled), IrDA (V1.2), RS232C (via a cradle)
    • Others: Speaker, microphone, vibrator, fingerprint sensor, accelerator sensor
    • Power: Li-Ion battery
    • Cradle: RS232C, AC adapter, and AA batteries

  • Software:

    • Operating system: Linux kernel version 2.4
    • GUI: Microwindows
    • Bluetooth stack: IBM BlueDrekar (L2CAP, SDP, RFCOMM)

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