Gates sets his sights on your fridge

Spot the secret lemonade drinker...
Written by David Becker, Contributor

Spot the secret lemonade drinker...

Microsoft's latest plan to improve the way you live revolves around wristwatches and fridge magnets. Souped-up versions of those common objects - based on Microsoft's previously announced smart personal objects technology (Spot) - were the highlights of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' opening keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday. Playing more of a greatest-hits show than usual, Gates mostly offered updates on previously announced technologies centred on a fully networked home display screen. Gates first outlined Spot a few months ago at Comdex in Las Vegas. Spot allows devices, such as alarm clocks, to run Microsoft's .Net Compact Framework and gain access to data stored on a central PC or remote servers. While initial presentations on Spot have stayed on the theoretical side, Gates on Wednesday demonstrated the first devices that will use the technology. Watchmakers Fossil, Citizen and Suunto all plan to have Spot-enabled models available by the end of the year. The watches will connect to PCs to calibrate themselves and download software and connect wirelessly to streaming data beamed over FM radio signals to grab the latest sports scores or stock prices. Gates hailed the watches as the first fruit of Microsoft's effort to seamlessly blend digital data into everyday life. "This is something we've been working on for a number of years, and it's really exciting to see it coming to reality," he said. "We see these devices continuing to get smarter and get better at knowing what messages you might be interested in at a particular time." He also noted that the forthcoming watches have faster processors and four times as much memory as the first IBM PCs. More theoretical Spot items included refrigerator magnets that wirelessly retrieve information on local traffic or specials at local restaurants. David Becker writes for News.com
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