Bill Gates will show off smart objects--small, Internet-enabled household items--at Comdex next week, as PC makers gear up for the second wave of Internet appliances.
The smart objects program revolves around delivering Internet information to alarm clocks, kitchen appliances, stereo equipment and the like, say sources familiar with Microsoft's plans. These devices, which could come out as early as 2003, will contain Microsoft software, energy-efficient processors and built-in wired or wireless networking capabilities, sources said. Smart objects could also revive the "agent" concept, with software that anticipates an individual's needs, said Tim Bajarin, president of consulting company Creative Strategies.
"Besides telling the time, (a smart objects clock) tells you the weather and it tells you the road conditions on your preferred way to work," Bajarin said, speculating on Microsoft's plans.
Hmmm, when I want to know the weather when I get up I guess I'll still take a peek when I open the curtains ;) And if you live in the UK then you already know the roads will be jammed and full of traffic cones :( Ahem, and on with the news...
To date, Internet appliances have been an unrealized dream for PC and electronics makers. At Comdex in 1999, Microsoft unveiled the MSN Web Companion, a simple-to-use, inexpensive Internet surfing device. Compaq Computer and others marketed these devices, but they disappeared a few months later. Intel and 3Com also came out with terminals, which likewise died young.
Proponents, though, say the experience could be different this time. Handhelds, intelligent cell phones and even the digital music revolution have acclimated the public to accessing the Internet on things other than PCs.
News source: c|net