But Can It Translate Dilbert-Speak in Meetings?.
Upstream: Programmable Chips
"Late for an appointment, you grab your 'personal information appliance.' Prompted by your uttering the words 'cell phone,' the small gadget awakens and instantly programs itself for a mobile phone call. Done with the call, you say 'translator,' and the device rewires itself to translate the latest business news from Tokyo. Issue the command 'map,' and it reconfigures itself again to take a GPS reading and display your location in real time.
One reason that this type of versatility is not possible today is that handheld gadgets are typically built around highly optimized specialty chips that do one thing really well. These chips are fast and relatively cheap, but their circuits are literally written in stone—or at least in silicon. A multipurpose gadget would have to have many specialized chips—a costly and clumsy solution. Alternately, you could use a general-purpose microprocessor, like the one in your PC, but that would be slow as well as expensive. For these reasons, chip designers are turning increasingly to reconfigurable hardware—integrated circuits where the architecture of the internal logic elements can be arranged and rearranged on the fly to fit particular applications." [Technology Review - Computers and Electronics]
If that "personal information appliance" was an OQO, with VKB projection capabilities, a Bluetooth headset, and if I could see the screen in my eyeglasses, I'd be in heaven!
This abstract is all that is available for free, but it definitely piqued my interest. I'll probably be getting a copy of the full article from the databases we have available at work, but you can contact your local public library to get one for yourself. Check your library's web site - they might even have databases available for searching via the web 24/7. If not, call or email them and they'll be happy to get it for you!
[The Shifted Librarian]
The programmable chip is a nice idea, but a somewhat silly one at the same time. A large part of why various electronics has dropped in price is because they can use the same parts for assembly, which serves to drop cost of goods, as well as standardizing systems with the main difference being the software feature set. This gave us the sudden rush of all in one systems that are so prevalent today. [link]
A better solution would be to let a company like Flextronics or SCI Systems approach the issue, as they have the design experience to put a solution together for you, based off your design needs. You will still need to develop the software and programming to get everything to work together, you'll need to specify your voice recognition chip, for example, but they'll help you make the product.
I just got a Sony PEG NR70V. It is a color Palm powered PDA, MP3 player, and has an integrated 320x240 digital camera. Built in Memory stick slot for moving stuff around, including the MP3 files. The only things that it lacks are: Cell phone, voice recorder, and wireless access. But since I hae a cell phone that has an integrated voice recorder, that knocks two items off the list, and I can get a cable that will let me hook my Clie to the phone, so I can get email via the Imode that provider offers.
The new device is about 5/8" wider than my Handspring Visor Deluxe, and 1/8" taller. Plus it has an li-ion battery, which allows me to do away with the AAs that I have been using. OK, I'm bragging, I admit it, but the point is still there, while it would be nice to have this all in one device, I like being able to choose what I'm going to use in a given situation, and if I lose one, I'm not totally out of luck.