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A Linux Machine For Your Collar 318

Posted by timothy
from the eudaemonic-pie dept.
MadSaxon writes "gumstix.org has a brief but titillating description of a very small Linux machine based on the PXA255: 20 x 80 mm, '64MB SDRAM, 4MB Flash, MMC/SD/SDIO slot, and power management. It takes 3.6V - 5.0V power, and has been drawing under 200 mA.' It weighs less than 12g sans battery, and 'can fit in a collar undetected.' Is collar-top computing the Next Big Thing?"
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A Linux Machine For Your Collar

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:10PM (#8113877) Homepage Journal
    So, if your collar is wired, do you dry clean?

    You've got token ring around the collar!

  • by SpanishInquisition (127269) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:12PM (#8113899) Homepage Journal
    Red Neck Hat?
    • by ackthpt (218170) *
      Red Neck Hat?

      Memo to the PHB: We need to downsize, again. If the fire sprinklers go off in the cube farm, how many staff will be electocuted?

    • by ajrs (186276)
      Black Tie Linux. Black Tie is an elegant distro based on Debian, but its users tend to be exclusive.
    • Bondage (Score:2, Funny)

      by nwf (25607)
      Actually, depending on your collar, if you run Windows on it, you can be in double bondage!
  • by CaptainAlbert (162776) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:14PM (#8113914) Homepage
    I'm sure there's a "Slacksware" joke in here somewhere, but I'm not quite awake enough to make it. :)
  • Collar? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dyolf Knip (165446) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:14PM (#8113915) Homepage
    Ok.. why? I mean is there something about being in a collar that being in a pocket or a belt buckle can't do?
  • Management (Score:5, Funny)

    by petabyte (238821) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:14PM (#8113917)
    I see management giving all their employee's one of these. Well, right after the little shock module is released for it.

    "Slashdoting again?!" ... *ZAP*
    • Re:Management (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by nizo (81281)
      Actually I keep waiting for the opposite to be released. I think it was a NOVA episode that had this little rat pressing a bar, which would in turn stimulate the pleasure center in his brain (needless to say, the rat was a little white blur as he pressed that bar, even forgoing eating if I recall correctly. Think one long continual orgasm). Anyway, I keep waiting for some company to release something like this for people. The upside would be things like exercise could be made to be lots more fun, but I supp
  • Neat item (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:14PM (#8113927) Homepage Journal

    So many possibilties:

    Link to these lie-detector glasses [slashdot.org] for better detection.

    Card counting in Vegas.

    Covert recording of conversations (low bitrate MP3?)

    The chicks. Well.. maybe not the chicks..

    Anyhow, this is moot. I can't recall the last time I wore a shirt with a collar.. :)

  • Is this like a shirt collar, or a big studded leather gothy/BSDM kind of collar?
  • Am I allowed to imagine a beowulf cluster of these? The first beowulf pda?

  • Why not wireless? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sean80 (567340) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:16PM (#8113957)
    It has always struck me that putting more and more power close to people is the wrong way to go. Instead, why not make these machines effectively a "dumb terminal" and hook it in the Internet through a wireless connection, where it would interact with web services? Then, you can have a supercomputer on your side, and you wouldn't even know it.

    But, I guess that goes against the post. My other thought is the social stigma associated with these things. I still get people telling me in an embarassed tone of voice that they can't remember my number any more without their cell phone handy. I see these things being huge in the area of 'intelligence augmentation' and 'external memories', if only people could accept that learning things rote is no longer something we actually have to do any more.

    • It has SDIO. What more do you want? Stick a 802.11 or bluetooth card in there and your ready to go.
    • ...if only people could accept that learning things rote is no longer something we actually have to do any more....

      ...except for your password...
    • by tweakt (325224) * on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:20PM (#8114649) Homepage
      It has always struck me that putting more and more power close to people is the wrong way to go. Instead, why not make these machines effectively a "dumb terminal" and hook it in the Internet through a wireless connection, where it would interact with web services? Then, you can have a supercomputer on your side, and you wouldn't even know it.

      You're exactly right, that is the way things are headed. But stop to think about the local computing power that may be required. Things like sophisticated video compression algorithms, speech recognition, and in the future perhaps an intelligent agent which sifts through data and presents useful items (think advanced version of dashboard). All of these things will need power close to the cpu. After that, Sun had it right, "The Network is the Computer". Especially for storage of data, etc. But there will always be a baseline requirement for local computing power.

      Also, another idea to consider. By offloading processing power... ie, the "dumb terminal" approach, you take away the power to customize your experience. You effectively end up with an advertising receiver. You'll be powerless to access the types of information that you're interested in, and the device becomes more like a television, only capable of doing what it's preprogrammed to. Most people will not go to the effort to set up their own web services to connect to.

      Distributed processing power is the future. But with lots of power spread out over millions of portable devices all interconnected, it becomes more of a social appliance that a number crunching system.

      (I drift off topic...)

      Personally what I'm most interested in are assistive agents. I think in the future you may be considered handicapped to NOT have one of these things someone on your person allowing you to tap into the global network, maybe even subconciously. Think instant google searches based on something you're thinking about, augmenting your memory automatically. Some really cool stuff, just hope the economy keeps together so I see it happen in my lifetime.

  • under the collar? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:16PM (#8113958) Homepage Journal
    Ok great the computer fits under my collar, but does it have a jack to plug right into my brain? Or must I wear those uber-geeky display glasses with a one handed keyboard to use it, which would seem to defeat the purpose of yet another ultra small computer. It seems we need to work on the interface for wearables more than anything.
    • I would think you would want the jack installed professionally, not as a DIY kit that comes with the computer. Imagine that metal hole in the side of your head. What do you do when it starts to itch?
    • You hit it on the head. My objection to most of the modern gizmo's is the interface not the form factor. I hate the superfluous menues on my damn cell phone and I do not have a PDA. I guess I am decidedly the anti-uber-geek for admitting this, but I am not alone! The truly clever person (not just technically proficient and skilled) that comes up with an unobtrusive interface will rock the marketplace. Maybe a generation of kids that grew up sending messages over their cell phones and text pagers will l
    • It seems we need to work on the interface for wearables more than anything.

      I agree comrade. I will inform the Ministry of Technological Development immediately and put a halt to this unproductive enginering.
    • Re:under the collar? (Score:3, Informative)

      by hackstraw (262471)
      Collar sensors are very common in places where radiation is present, etc. A networked realtime remotely monitored sensor using a computer like this would be used. Or at least one that can record data with a timestamp vs. an idiot light.

      If its a normal computer that you can interface with, it would be neat to just talk to it like a Secret Service agent, but I don't think this guy has anywhere near the processing power for that.

      Anyway, I find it amusing that slashdoters (including myself) love technology
    • "with a one handed keyboard to use it"

      Okay, I see where you are going with your idea .....
  • No, but slashdot editors stretching for witty responses is.

    Sorry guys, why does everything have to be the Next big thing? Why not just hail it as a fantasitic step forward?

    Yo Grark
  • by gid13 (620803)
    How many gigs is the hard drive? :D
  • by Traicovn (226034) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:17PM (#8113969) Homepage
    I still have some (pretty straight-forward) bugs to be ironed out but a few other friends are now diving into these.

    Best to iron these out without the device still in the shirt collar. Medium starch.
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:18PM (#8113981) Homepage Journal
    ... i dunno that i'd be all 'collar' about it.

    i'd definitely wear one of these in my leather jacket, though.

    seems like it would be a good fit for 'seams', and i can think of a million uses for linux-enabled clothes, really ... especially if i can put an 802.11g-friendly antennae thread somewhere.

    combine it with todays 'bendy LCD' materials, and we could, finally, be rid of the package-gadget dilemna forever. (clothes become computing devices.)

    "hi, i'm home, its me, this is my pgp key, turn on the lights and wake up the studio ..."

    "constant-slashdot feed, on my collar lcd..."

    "location-based websites" - now, here is an idea whose time has come: an internet based entirely on -physical- proximity.

    who knows, maybe devices like this could save the music industry. if my clothes walked away with legit .mp3s' of the concert i just attended, i'd attend more concerts.
    • an internet based entirely on -physical- proximity.

      LOL. you're joking right? We've done this already. They're called billboards.

    • (clothes become computing devices.)

      So now, when you get mugged, the mugger strips you naked, leaves you in an alley, and runs off wearing your clothes to signup for all sorts of pr0n sites, credit cards, etc. in your name.

      Thanks, but no thanks.

  • I would actually be interested in this...that is, unless this is a hoax. If someone is prepared to market this, please let me know. An open-source chibi 'puter would be nice.
  • cluster (Score:2, Redundant)

    by millahtime (710421)
    So, with wireless... could a bunch of people standing in line be a beowolf cluster.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    20 x 80 mm = 0.004 x 0.016 rods
  • How About a Watch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:19PM (#8113991)
    Put this in a watch and I will buy one.

    I've been looking for a geeky watch. The IBM Linux watch doesn't look like it is ever going to come out.

    Add a tiny color touch screen, some buttons and a tiny speaker/mic.

    The SD slot has lots of possibilities (I mean other than "wrist pr0n").
  • Well, um, really, why would it be the next big thing? Technology has had the ability to produce very small exlectronics some time now, do you see a huge demand for them?

    This device sounds about as big as an iPod, except that the iPod has a 4G. Now there's a cool device. Small, single function, useful, stylish and has the infrastructure support (iTunes) to make it a commercial success. (And the mini comes with a wrist strap so you can wear it while jogging. Hello, wearable.)

    If you as me, this devic


  • Very clever machine, but what an unusual choice of location for such an embedded device.

    What next, a computer for your ball-gag ? Or maybe running GIMP [gimp.org] on your GIMP [imdb.com] ???
    • Perhaps it would seem more appropriate in the collar of a dress shirt?

      Imagine, a PDA in every shirt, and a Bluetooth-enabled closet to make sure your shirts are up-to-date. Add one of those new rollable displays to the sleeve, and away you go.

  • I think this thing should consume more power. At 1 watt, you're not going to get enough heat dissapation for it to double as a heat pad on the back of your neck.

    And let's face it, that's really what we want, a heat pad that does Seti@Home calculations while releaving our sore muscles. Props to the first person who writes the intelligence for our new heatpads to crawl across our backs and hooks up sensors that find knots to be worked out.

    It's the year 2004, where are my robotic masseuses?
  • So -- can I run the SETI screensaver or, even better, distcc, and send my compile jobs to the others standing around at the packed subway station?
  • by andih8u (639841) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:24PM (#8114053)
    "yes, we searched his entire apartment and couldn't find anything but a wireless router...but we know he's sharing mp3s somehow. Kept thumbing his collar....weird kid."

  • If people wear the overpriced $300 iPod to go jogging, I guess this device is just the same.

    Where's that firewire cable leash now.
  • I realize that 200 mA is likely to be less than one watt, but that's still a significant amount of heat to emit for a device worn next to the skin.

    This thing is going to make a lot of people hot under the collar.

    [ducks]
  • Grey Matter (Score:5, Funny)

    by pipingguy (566974) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:31PM (#8114131) Homepage
    Is collar-top computing the Next Big Thing?

    Why not? For many, it'd be the only processing power above the neck.
  • by JawFunk (722169) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:33PM (#8114152)
    Man, if I link this to a voice recognition program for numbers and math terms, add a display in your sleeve or like a HUD inside your glasses, and I could have a voice activated calculator, and totally impress chicks and others when doing complex equations right infront of them: "Hey M, what's the total liability for the period 1972 through 1989 if we owed $6,998,973.20 calculated at a compounded interest of 6%?" "It's THREE! Wait, oh shit, DragonSpeak failed."
  • Under a collar? Who sat and figured that one out? What other places did they stuff it before they decided the collar was the best?
    • What other places did they stuff it before they decided the collar was the best?

      Umm, these are linux zealots. It wouldnt fit up their asses next to the iPod and Zaurus.

      Realize also that these are knobs who own nothing but collared shirts. On the beach in a collared T shirt. Socks with sandals. They're that cool.
  • I've always thought of computers and cell phones being an "Albatross" around my neck, sort of speak. But soon, it looks like it might *be* one for real. Damn, sometimes I just want to get away from technology for a moment. Maybe I'm being anti-geek in saying this. But damn, I'm only Human and need my natural space too from time to time.

  • Obvious rebuttal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cskaplan (108764) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:38PM (#8114203)
    Is collar-top computing the Next Big Thing?

    No, it isn't.

  • That way they can squeeze a few more minutes of production out of you on the can, when you are, uhhh, producing.

    Great Idea. Now interface it to my eye glasses so I can instantly recall names, age, birthday, kids, interests for anyone I meet. :)
  • http://www.sharperimage.com/us/en/catalog/productv iew.jhtml?sku=SI488CB2

    Maybe someone could put the linux machine with the Personal Cooling System.
  • "Great my Dog can use Linux now, W00t!" when they saw this article? Tho I wonder what some good canine applications of Linux would be (at risk of sounding off topic):

    1) Smart sensors that automatically determine when your dog is not following his housebreaking and shock him accordingly
    2) If Dog barks, it evaluates validity of threat (using spy camera embedded in collar) and alerts you if it's a problem...
    3) Any others?

  • Wow, all this needs is no battery. Seriously. Maybe a solar panel, or one of those biomechanical generators that use spare motion to generate power like a self-winding watch. Or, for the ultimate geek, rig up a stirling engine that can run off your body heat.

    Way cool, man. Way cool.


    P.S. Where do you put the monitor and keyboard? Lemme guess - bluetooth to the display on your wristwatch? The possibilities are endless!
  • So, now that Novell has embraced Linux, can we expect Novell Neckware?
  • JUST IMAGINE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cpfeifer (20941) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:56PM (#8114391) Homepage
    a Beowulf cluster of th+++NO CARRIER
  • wrong OS (Score:3, Funny)

    by sklib (26440) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:56PM (#8114395)
    Clearly this thing shouldn't run linux, but instead some form of MacOS, just because there's no way I can reliably click one of two buttons with my adam's apple, but I could probably manage it with just the one.
  • by jafac (1449)
    Who came up with that idea? Some S&M freakazoid?
  • by LazloToth (623604) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @01:58PM (#8114413)

    I hope the keyboard plug is PS/2 - - not USB! Ouch!
  • by gosand (234100) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:02PM (#8114437)
    What self-respecting Linux geek wears a shirt with a collar?
  • by AJWM (19027) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:05PM (#8114492) Homepage
    Hmm, combine that computer with this [slashdot.org] flexible display technology (running a flashy screensaver) and put anyone else's loud tie to shame.

    Or just use the tie as your monitor, although it'd have to curl up so you could read it more easily. Now what nerd do we know that wears a curling up necktie...
  • by Geccie (730389) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:13PM (#8114580)
    I'm surprised that this advancement is reduced to a joke. I've been waiting for a small form factor os capable platform for some time. The closest I've seen are the 5 1/4 SBCs. My goal is to use these devices for autonomous control of radio controlled aircraft. Personal UAV :) Given the lower power requirements and very low weight, this platform can be combined with an OOPIC sensor interface and gimbal sensors + GPS to do the job. Now if I can get it for less than $100. Combine 20 and have your own battle of Britian :)
  • by strredwolf (532) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:21PM (#8114654) Homepage Journal
    OMG that's smaller than my Nokia 3590 "ATT GoPhone" by a factor of six! With the QVGA Fexible display, all we need now is power, display control, WiFi, and battery!!!
  • Google cache (Score:5, Informative)

    by DerOle (520081) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:29PM (#8114724) Homepage
    Seems like they either prepared their site for the /. effect or they initially were out to sell this stuff but reconsidered. Take a look at the google cache here [216.239.37.104] and here [216.239.37.104] where you can find out more about prices and specifications.
  • by Mignon (34109) <satan@programmer.net> on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @02:30PM (#8114741)
    Collars, you say? Wait 'til they have Linux-powered codpieces. Just be specific when you ask someone about his uptime.
  • by wolf- (54587) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @03:28PM (#8115338) Homepage
    If a Woman can be kept off a plane for a heated jacket with wires protruding, how are geeks going to explain to airport security why their shirts are beeping?
  • by mirio (225059) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @03:43PM (#8115496)
    Is collar-top computing the Next Big Thing?

    Hmm...given that this device is based on Linux and us Linux folks hate to wear collars, I give them poor odds of finding a market! :-)

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