Microsoft is using FM radio band to transmit messages to retrofitted objects like watches, magnets, your butt (just making sure you are paying attention):
- It feels so retro, this wireless wristwatch from Microsoft.
While most technology firms were chasing the Next Big Thing, the Redmond software giant spent the past two years secretly tinkering with FM radio — one of the last big things — to adapt it to info-crazed life in the 21st century.
At the Consumer Electronics Show here last week, Gates announced a Microsoft subscription network called DirectBand that will beam super-short text updates (Snow tonight; Stop4 Milk; Dow Drops 400) over FM radio to watches, alarm clocks, magnets and other mundane objects. The DirectBand network is up and running, as are several dozen prototype watches, but the service and watches won’t be commercially available until September.
Microsoft calls this hybrid technology SPOT, for “Smart Personal Object Technology.” SPOT transmits data over radio frequencies to special silicon chips with FM receivers custom-made by National Semiconductor. In addition to developing tiny FM receivers that consume little power, Microsoft tweaked radio protocols and wrote software to read unique identifying numbers in each SPOT device so it can deliver the precise information each user wants. Subscribers will personalize their updates from a Web site. [Washington Post]
Always thinking, those Minions of the Gates.