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HP Making a Dick Tracy Watch For the Military

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the time-peace dept.

Displays 66

eldavojohn writes "HP announced a device like Dick Tracy's watch, with a target user base being the US military. CNN describes it as 'a flexible display that shows maps and other strategic information to soldiers in remote combat fields. The watch's screen will be made of plastic and it will run on solar energy, making it less likely to malfunction or run out of power in a tense scenario.' HP says a prototype will be done within a year. This new device hinges on recent display technology that HP says it has been developing for 10 years. The flexible displays are a mere 50 microns thick."

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First Post (-1, Troll)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277122)

So it's target user is the military, when will there be a consumer version?

Re:First Post (3, Interesting)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277162)

Well, HP just bought Palm. Use your imagination.

WebOS based flexible low-power display smart "phones" that can either be wearable, or as a small carryable.

Translate the same tech over into the WebOS based slate, and you have a revolution in computing.

iPad nothin'. WebOS is the future. HP and Palm are going to take us there.

Re:First Post (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277238)

Well, HP just bought Palm. Use your imagination.

Ok, I did and I come up that maybe they will use some palm style interfaces on the watch.

Now what? :D
He asked about a consumer version.

Re:First Post (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277356)

Palm OS on a watch? Already done ...

http://www.gizmohighway.com/personaltech/fossil_palm_watch.htm [gizmohighway.com]

Re:First Post (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278640)

Except that is PALM OS, not WEBOS.

Pay attention.

Re:First Post (1)

sh00z (206503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277506)

Now what? :D

You're absolutely correct. Been there, done that [amazon.com] with all but the flexible screen and data in the cloud. I wonder if the GP has even seen the iPad TV commercials? You're not going to want to share your photos, watch a movie or read a book on a watch-sized screen. Commercialization of this device is no threat to iPad.

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277524)

Commercialization of this device is no threat to iPad.

No, but the commercialization of tampons will be ;)

Re:First Post (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277936)

No, but if the military version will be able to show maps that are actually useable it's probably bigger than your average (or above average) watch.

Re:First Post (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32281130)

I don't watch much TV anymore.

Re:First Post (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278752)

Not to sound trollish, but if that's all you can come up with you are really lacking in imagination.

If HP can come up with a super-thin high density display that can run off a Watch-sized solar panel, What happens when you blow that same display up to smartphone or Tablet PC size? How about a Smartphone or Tablet PC that uses almost no battery power to run the display, allowing for DAYS worth of unplugged computing instead of hours?

Also note that the screen is FLEXIBLE. What about a pull-out display on a thin wand-style device, or a smartphone with a display that pulls out ala Caprica?

The possibilities are endless here. Combine these devices with an easy to use and intuitive multitasking OS like WebOS and you have a revolution in computing. Not just the next step, but the next Generation.

Re:First Post (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279912)

Not to sound trollish, but if that's all you can come up with you are really lacking in imagination.

I'm not lacking imagination.

But I read your post:

"WebOS based flexible low-power display smart "phones" that can either be wearable, or as a small carryable."

Like if it was more or less a fact and that would be what they would release now when they had both technologies.

And I rather thought that was a little over-[word] since I wouldn't want to draw such conclusions and expect such things from so vague information.

How about a Smartphone or Tablet PC that uses almost no battery power to run the display, allowing for DAYS worth of unplugged computing instead of hours?

I assume most phones turn their displays of after a while if you don't use them? For a tablet PC I assume anything worth doing on it will consume the juice quite fast anyway. But anyway, my answer was the way it was just because I thought you assumed too many things from so little information. But now I understand if was just you imagining what it could be used for.

Also note that the screen is FLEXIBLE. What about a pull-out display on a thin wand-style device, or a smartphone with a display that pulls out ala Caprica?

Sound inconvenient, I don't want to get tears over my screen, or roll if up and try to hold it with some lock / have it fold out slightly bent with glare or varying degrees of contrast and so on.

But who knows, maybe it works.

After having used Amiga even after the death of Commodore I'm skeptic against any computer revolution claims :D

Re:First Post (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280286)

WebOS based flexible low-power display smart "phones" that can either be wearable, or as a small carryable.

The power of this will be in making "scroll phones", which will have semi-netbook power in a phone size bundle, with a neat pull out screen. Much like a normal phone but with maybe 10" rollaway screens, or firefly-like news sheets.

I can't wait... (0, Offtopic)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277582)

"PC Load Letter?" What the fuck does that mean?

Re:I can't wait... (0, Offtopic)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277682)

what are you talking about?

Re:I can't wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32278082)

guess it isn't funny if you have to explain it. The older guys here will remember how HP created a very popular, cool, innovative product once before, and then hampered it with a cryptic error message. [wikipedia.org] The younger people might remember it from a movie. [imdb.com]

Re:I can't wait... (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32281096)

Ah.

Better explanation then the other guy. Now it makes sense, and even though I've seen Office Space, it didn't register as a quote.

Re:I can't wait... (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278188)

"PC Load Letter" is an error message that certain old HP printers would display when they're out of paper, for instance A4. The entire grandparent post is a quote from the movie "Office Space". We had one of those printers were I worked and we smirked at that message, it was hilarious that they made the same joke in the movie :)

Re:I can't wait... (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32281074)

What does that have to with my original post, though?

Re:I can't wait... (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | more than 4 years ago | (#32282206)

Nothing really, just thought I'd answer your question :)
Nevermind.

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32288970)

can someone tell me why this is a troll? I mean seriously!

At least... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277132)

At least our yearn to kill each other produces some pretty cool toys every few years.

Re:At least... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277300)

At least our yearn to kill each other produces some pretty cool toys every few years.

Now if only we could choose the signal used ...

STOP
...
CONT

How big? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277150)

Was Dick Tracy's watch more like Dick Tracy's sleeve? If it's anything like the dimensions of the watch I've got on my left wrist right now, it won't be able to show you anything but the time.

Hey.... (1)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277160)

What is flat top doing with my watch?

I read the TFA (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277188)

And then realized that there was really no more to the linked article than what was in the summary. Are there any better links?

Re:I read the TFA (2, Interesting)

milosoftware (654147) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278210)

Well, from TFA i understood that so far, they only have a flexible screen.
Plastic screens on a watch are a horrible idea. They scratch much more easily than glass ones.

Wrong reference (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277192)

Why don't they call it a Turanga Leela Wrist-Kejigger?

Re:Wrong reference (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277202)

Now, I'm Prune Tracy! Take that, D..............

Re:Wrong reference (2, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277390)

The man who's job it is to suggest names for new inventions based on pop culture references unfortunately got the career chip for the job of suggesting names for new inventions based upon pop culture references from half a century ago.

After all, "You gotta do what you gotta do."

Re:Wrong reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277672)

Wristlojackomater

Re:Wrong reference (1)

Terwin (412356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278846)

Because a lot more people who wanted a Dick Tracy Watch as a kid could afford this than people who wanted a Leela wrist device as a kid.

It is all about marketing to the audience who both wants to buy it and can afford to buy it.

Display (1, Insightful)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277232)

That's great and all, but how useful can a display of that size be? Even if they make it like one of those watches with the huge faces, it'll still be tiny for looking at maps or trying to read much info.

Re:Display (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277246)

It's okay - it'll be a touch-screen display, so you can use your fingers to zoom in and out and to scroll. Give it a day and you'll wonder how you ever did without all of the zooming and scrolling just to see useful stuff!

Re:Display (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277574)

I hope this was sarcastic. If it has the form of anything like a normal wristwatch, making it big enough to zoom out by sticking two meaty army fingers on it and moving them, while out on a mission, is ridiculous.

Now, if they rather made it like an armsleeve type map device, that might work.

Re:Display (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277724)

How about if it had a laser that can project an image onto the ground or wall?

Re:Display (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32291798)

Don't worry, I was poking fun at iPhones and the like and the sudden "wow, everything must be touch-screen with gestures" pattern. Given the size of the screen, can you imagine the comparative effect of fingerprints?

Re:Display (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277394)

They don't seem to say what size it is. I assume it's larger than an actual Dick Tracy watch, and they simply didn't want to call it a Bracelet Phone for obvious reasons.

Re:Display (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277462)

I wonder if they're going to patent 'a watch exactly like in dick tracy' pretending it's novelty.

Re:Display (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277548)

I heard on the radio that it was indeed some kind of forearm screen with ~ 10" wide display.

Re:Display (2, Interesting)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278160)

I sure hope so! I've been waiting for forearm computing practically my whole life. It just seems to me the best way to combine a usably sized display with wear-ability. Bonus points if they can make a screen viewable from both sides (sandwiching 2 together would be an acceptable substitution) so you can flip it up to reveal a keyboard.

I've been wondering why nobody has made anything like this yet for some time. How many times have we seen good/bad guys in movies with the gps/vid phone/AI/etc. on their forearm and gone "Neat, I want one!"?

Re:Display (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277804)

There should be enough space for 1-way communication (e.g. Command sending coordinates, descriptions of targets, orders, etc)

Re:Display (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32278354)

Actually the watch face will just be a little radar scope, spinning around and revealing enemies behind corners as bright red dots. R&D's got a great simulation of it going on in the lab. Heck, they're all testing it... for the last 8 hours.

Woah! (2, Funny)

bgarcia (33222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277280)

Big Fucking Watch.

Solar powered (1)

NVW55V (994264) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277406)

Since they seem to spend so much time in the desert, this should work out fine.

Re:Solar powered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32278660)

Sure, it works for their flashlights, NVG, and other electronics, but who wants to carry a solar panel around on their *arm*?

There was some resistance at HP... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277410)

A member on their board of directors who looks like Pruneface took it too personally.

Mostly Harmless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277430)

So mind-numbingly primitive they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Re:Mostly Harmless (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277690)

Just so you don't languish in the void of uncertainty, at least one of us gets the reference.
Now, I'd like for you to listen to some of my poetry...

Solar powered combat gear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277514)

Solar power? Great, all that money on night vision gear wasted!

Re:Solar powered combat gear? (4, Interesting)

sco08y (615665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277984)

Well, if you do night ops, you're generally asleep during the day or doing LPOP. You just want to be careful about leaving a glinty little solar panel out if you're trying to be tactical.

Most military comms are like what you've heard in movies, everyone's basically on one network and takes turns. It's a little more complicated than that, and I won't go into specifics on a public forum, but for 99% of communications, all you need to do is press a button and talk.

My beef is that a watch is just a fucking stupid idea: assuming a rifle, you'd have to take your non-firing hand off your weapon to bring your wrist up to your mouth, then use your firing hand to press the damned talk button. Terrible, terrible idea.

If I were doing it, I'd make it a headset that fit in to the ACH and could be activated by biting, or by a switch you could mount on a standard picatinny rail. It should also use the latest greatest DSP so you don't have to actually vocalize to talk.

Re:Solar powered combat gear? (2, Informative)

sco08y (615665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278090)

Sorry, LPOP is a bit obscure: listening post / observation post. Basically means setting up a hidey hole and waiting and watching.

Re:Solar powered combat gear? (1)

toxonix (1793960) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280874)

Yeah its gonna need some batteries either way. I can't see how solar panels would be any good in a combat situation. I think a real time situation map would be useful for field commanders. Recon patrols could use them to feed observations to HQ without talking on a radio or having to return to base. A screen that won't get damaged by being stepped on or sat on would be good. I think most stuff is just too fragile for field use. It has to be heat/cold/dust/dirt/grease/oil/water/shock proof.

James Bond's watch is better (1)

SlideRuleGuy (987445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277658)

It's got that laser that can burn through steel and trigger detonators and stuff. Maps??? How boring.

Great, an NMCI watch... (3, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277692)

When HP took over EDS, it got the contract for the NMCI [wikipedia.org] , possibly the biggest cluster-fuck in DoD history according to my Navy friends.

I wouldn't trust HP to supply soldiers with a working Timex, let alone something with telecommunications abilities.

Re:Great, an NMCI watch... (1)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280474)

Which is why NGEN is coming online. NMCI was a mistake.

Re:Great, an NMCI watch... (2, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280742)

Which is why NGEN is coming online. NMCI was a mistake.

Why should they believe NGEN will be any better?

Two-way video phone (3, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277940)

The "Dick Tracy watch" from the comics (and movie) is a two-way video phone. This isn't a Dick Tracy watch.

Reality can inspire art (1)

Another, completely (812244) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278038)

In 1997, I saw Al Gross [mit.edu] talk at the Vehicular Technology Conference about his history in designing portable radios. He claimed that Dick Tracy author Chester Gould [wikipedia.org] got the idea for the wrist radio from an actual prototype that he had been building (following on from his successful radio designs for the military). It's a very long feedback loop.

Dick Tracy's Kid (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278128)

This is sounding more like the watch Dick Tracy's kid or grandkid would wear one day with all those data capabilities. More Dick Tracyesque voice only 2-way radio watches have been available for a while now. I remember seeing a 2-meter transceiver built into a watch in the late 90s. I wish I knew who built/sold it. The place I saw it is out of business now. There are also plenty of FRS wristwatches on EBay.

great reporting here (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278238)

A U.S. Department of Defense spokeswoman said she was not familiar with the project, so it's unclear exactly how the watch would be used by the military.

Okay, I didn't go to journalist school, but shouldn't this person have just been crossed off the list and ignored?

We have until 2077 to finish the Pip-Boys before the world ends though, right? Looks like we're on track. I just hope they remember the bomb screensaver this time. I real reporter would have pointed this out.

Talk to me when it is a Lens (1)

Bozdune (68800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278456)

Where are you, "Doc" Smith?

Why not make it kinetic powered? (1)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280204)

As someone posted before, the sun isn't always shining. But most of the soldiers using them will be moving around.

"less likely to run out of power" (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 4 years ago | (#32281016)

Until night comes around...

touch + flexible screen = ? (1)

greywire (78262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32281502)

How well (if at all) will a touch interface work on a flexible screen?

All this talk about roll up screens and such, but imagine trying to use your iPhone if it was a piece of paper. And its not laying flat on a hard surface.

Solar? (1)

Isquiesque (1745236) | more than 4 years ago | (#32289532)

My question: what if that tense scenario is that you are likely to be eaten by a grue?
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