h a l f b a k e r y
Not so much a thought experiment as a single neuron misfire.
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Over the years, I've had several wristwatches. Some just tell the time, some do it for a bazillion timezones. Some have a calculator, some have 5 alarms. My current watch has an altimiteter and heart-rate monitor.
This idea is for a generic watch that the end user can customise lots of aspects
of. The watch itself just provides an LCD matrix screen (as opposed to the customised LCD screens that most electronic watches have), a battery, some buttons and a microcontroller.
The design is such that tiny additional hardware modules can be added (like GPS recievers, altimetres, etc).
The most interesting thing is, however, the reprogrammable microcontroller. You want to see three timezones on the screen in one go? Go ahead and program it that way. My current watch lets me program intervals for my running training. But I can't make it do "increasing intervals" where each interval is larger than the last. With the generic watch, I could program any kind of training program I like.
The generic watch is not designed to compete with cellphone functionality. It's supposed to allow you to customised features that you already find useful on current watches to work *exactly* how you want them (don't like the way the buttons are ordered? Change their function!)
Polar S710i watch
Heartrate, altimetre, bike cadence, power and speed, programmable training sessions... [danpat, Feb 13 2006]
IBM Research labls linux based wristwatch [danpat, Feb 13 2006]
Tiny GPS receiver
A GPS receiver the size of a baby's fingernail [danpat, Feb 13 2006]
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||wouldn't "customizable wristwatch" or "programmable wristwatch" be better titles?
||The principle of the 'Linux Watch' seems good, but Linux is probably the wrong OS for this. A smaller, lightweight, low-functionality OS would be better with the ability to run on an extremely low-power CPU. The watch would be customised by writing programs to run on this OS.