What Happened to IBM's Linux Wristwatch?

Posted by jun auza On 6/12/2010
In 2000, IBM researchers developed a wristwatch that runs Linux and X11. Their goal was to test the limits of the operating system and explore ways people can interact with tiny electronic devices. So what happened to this Linux-powered wristwatch?

I became so interested about this watch after googling for some "geeky wristwatches" because it has some really cool features that I thought were not possible back in the day. The IBM Linux wristwatch is powered by a Cirrus Logic ARM-based EP7211 processor, 8MB of DRAM, and 8MB of flash memory. It also features a touch sensitive display and a rechargeable lithium polymer battery.

The ARM processor that powers the watch is RISC based and runs at 19MHz, which according to estimates is almost equal to a 100 Mhz Pentium. The motherboard for the watch was assembled at IBM's Japan research center. The Linux kernel that needed some extensive hacking including the shell that the watch runs was tweaked at Big Blue's research center at Bangalore, India.


Here are some other technical specifications of this Linux-powered wristwatch:

* Linux Kernel: 2.2.1
* X11R6 for the GUI env.
* Size: Watch: 56mm wide x 48mm long x 12.25mm thick (2.20 inches x 1.89 inches x 0.48 inches); MotherBoard: 27.5 mm wide x 35.3 mm long (1.08 inches x 39 inches)
* Weight: 44 Gms (Approx. 1.5 ounces)
* IrDA
* Radio Frequency Wireless connectivity

As reported by FreeOS.com, the Linux watch was conceived at IBM's T. J. Watson research center where different groups of researchers are continually exploring the numerous challenges that emerge in the field of user interface design, power management, input devices, wireless communication, sensors and models for co-existences for pervasive devices and wearables. A team of researchers with skills in hardware design, Operating Systems, displays, electronic and mechanical packaging, industrial design and user interface design, which was spread across multiple research IBM sites worked together to develop the wrist watch that would eventually run Linux and X11. They were led by Chandra Narayanaswami and worked persistently for about 18 months to achieve this feat.


Fast forward to 2010, and the Linux watch just vanished into thin air I think since I couldn't find any recent information about it. But if you know whatever happened to IBM's Linux based watch, please don't hesitate to share the info with us.

Did seeing the images above made you want to own a Linux-powered wristwatch? :-)

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