TIMEX is to launch a computer- in-a-wrist-watch which the wearer loads with information by pointing it at the screen of a personal computer.
The Data Link watch, produced in collaboration with Rank Xerox and Microsoft, is the latest in a string of computer-based products small enough to wear. Japanese companies have already produced computerised watches that work as remote controls for TV sets and even as tiny mobile telephones.
The Timex Data Link watch is scheduled for launch in the US in October, and in Europe early next year. Its price in Europe has yet to be finalised, but it is unlikely to be more than pounds 100.
Its owner prepares screens of information - such as personal telephone numbers, lists and appointments - ready to be downloaded. Then the computer erupts into flashing lines as the watch beams the files into its memory.
Technologists at the Rank Xerox research centre in Cambridge are now looking to what they believe will be the next step - 'intimate computing'.
Mik Lamming believes the wrist is the place from which people will talk to machines in the future. 'Everybody has a watch. People like Timex, Seiko and Swatch have realised that they own the real estate of the future.'
There are only about 150 million personal computers in use today but at least 1,000 million watches, Dr Lamming told the meeting yesterday. He also unveiled a device called the 'Memory Prosthesis', or 'Forget-me-Not', in prototype form in his laboratories.
This was an early form of intimate computer, a kind of intelligent filing cabinet that works with human memory, he said. People lose electronic documents on their computers, just as they used to lose bits of paper, by forgetting file names or where they stored them on their computer.
But, Dr Lamming says, they are far more likely to recall where they were when they created the document, and to whom they were talking. 'Computers will soon know where they are, as the cellular mobile phone network get smaller and smaller,' Dr Lamming said.
His 'memory prosthesis' automatically notes time and place of its owner's movements so it can locate files in a hurry.
WE would like to point out that contrary to our report 'Computer link to watches' in 1st editions on 9 September, Rank Xerox did not collaborate with Timex on the development of the Data Link watch.