close this bookVolume 6: No. 80
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View the documentPersonal/portable computing

Motorola's new StarTAC cellular phone weighs less than an audio CD. $1K-$2K. [NewtNews, 11/5/96. Bill Park.]

The teraflop CRAY T3E-900 will be available in Spring '97 starting at $500K. [NYT, 11/12/96, A18. EDUPAGE.] (Not portable, but that's less than many houses in the Palo Alto area. Incredible. Did I get it right?)

Apple has licensed its Newton technology to Schlumberger, Harris, Digital Ocean, and other information companies, and applications optimized for the MessagePad 2000 have just been announced by AllPen, Holosoft, Knowledge Revolution, Netstrategy, PelicanWare, Physix, Point-of-Care, Qualcomm, Sunburst, and Wright Strategies. Other third-party developers include Ascribe, Balcones, Bear River, Business Brothers, Callahan Roach, Catamount Software, CHS Systems, Claris Corp., Compower, Comprehensive Health Services, Concierge, Cyclops Computer Solutions, 3S Datacom, Dayna, DreamSoft, Dragon Systems, ETE, Ex Machina, Farallon, Fastline, Fetch Software, Gaia Software, Geoide Systems, Greenleaf Medical Systems, Green Mountain, GTE Telephone Operations, HealthCare Com., INS, Jay Klein Productions, Joey Technologies, KPMG, Landware, Lotus, LunaTech, MAR Software, Morgan Media, Nomadic Tech., Now Software, NS Basic, Paragone, PDA Construction, PDA Dimensions, Pen Vision, Personal Power Technologies (Pennon Systems), Phamis, PICA, Planet Computing, Power Media, Pythia, Radio Mail, Real World Solutions, Revelar, Rindle & Partner, RiverRun, Shana, SilverWARE, Simione Company, Socket Communications, Softcare Clinical Informatics, Stand Alone, Steton Technology, Tactile Systems, TBS Systems, Teamsoft, True North, US Robotics/Megahertz, WalletWare, and Wynd Communications. [Apple. NewtNews, 11/5/96.]

(MessagePads and Apple's other "user-centric information appliances" are now called "hand-helds" or "handhelds," not PDAs.)

Over 1,700 Newton software packages -- in Mac and PC formats -- are included in the 620MB 6th "Totally Incomplete PDA CD-ROM for Newton" from AMUG CD, Inc. $29 plus S/H, from or , (602) 553.0066. [NewtNews, 11/5/96.]

A new online magazine called "HotPocket" is looking for authors to write about pocket/handheld computers. [Jude , comp.sys.newton.misc. NewtNews, 11/5/96.]

Ever wish you had an extra hand for your mouse? Biocontrol Systems has a "Biomuse" interface that can control a computer by tensing muscles to create EMG signals. Electrooculographic (EOG) signals can also be used for eye tracking. [Hugh S. Lusted and R. Benjamin Knapp, SciAm, 10/96, p. 82. NewtNews.]

NEC has a new palm-sized fingerprint digitizer that can take prints at a crime scene and radio the data to a central computer. The SF Police Dept. will be testing eight units next May. [BW, 11/11/96, p. 74.]

(Incidentally, San Francisco now monitors several major intersections with automated tracking cameras. Hundreds of drivers have been fined for failing to stop.)

Nikon's new CoolPix 300 digital camera (for $1K) includes a pen-based operating system so that you can make handwritten and audio notes about your snapshots. The camera stores 125 images (640x480). [MacUser, 12/96. NewtNews, 11/5/96.] (Bill Park notes that this may be good for insurance appraisers, environmental assessment, and other field work. House inspection comes to mind, and maybe sports reporting if the resolution were better. Also visual records for medical and forensic use. But such people already use tape recorders to keep notes, so the real advance may be just cheap digital images that are easy to incorporate in printed or electronic reports. Combining the camera and notepad is a convenience, not a great leap forward. It would be better if they were separate but talked to each other.)

IBM's Tom Zimmerman has developed a "personal area network" (PAN) that transmit or receives information on low-frequency currents through your body. Information can be exchanged with pagers, cellular phones, palm-top computers, or anyone you touch. A 2400-baud touch-plate interface can be built for about $20 (and works even through shoe soles); faster data rates should also be possible. Zimmerman likes to speak of "contagious information," spreading by proximity. He suggests that a nearly empty milk jug could signal the refrigerator, which signals the house, which downloads a shopping list to your shoe as you walk out the door. Your shoe, of course, tells your wrist watch, which beeps you when you're near any store that sells milk. Software for such systems has been in development at Xerox PARC, where Mark Weiser's group uses infrared transmissions. [Janet Rae-Dupree, SJM, 10/21/96, E1.] (I get the same information services from my wife. :-)

-- Ken