HP goes Back to the Future
HP chose Computer World Expo 2000 as its platform from which to showcase the 'new re-invented HP'. The company is clearly not content with delivering printers, but forges a new approach to development through creative research. For this reason, researchers from HP Labs were there to demonstrate prototypes. HP Labs is HP's international 'think tank', where researchers from different disciplines dream up new products and technologies which might be in the hands of the consumers in a few years' time. This was illustrated by the fact that the researchers were housed in a garage-like building in HP's booth, meant to evoke thoughts about the very garage in Silicon Valley where Messrs Hewlett and Packard developed the first products in HP's range. Whether the prototypes shown here will ever surface as real products remains to be seen, but the important thing for HP is not to present new products. "We want to display some creative ideas from our researchers and get some feedback from the visiting public. We'd like to start a dialog with the people who enter our booth about what they think about what we demo, and what they believe might be needed in the future" said Mr Anders Garberg, CIO, HP Sweden.
One of the prototypes on display at the expo was the "Blazerjet", a kind of jacket with a compact Pentium computer attached to the back, and with a HP Palm Top and a GPS receiver connected to the jacket. The idea is that the Blazerjet should provide the user with a constant internet feed, albeit in a slightly new way. "Blazerjet knows where the bearer is, and using the internet connection it can download information about restaurants, ATMs, bus stops etc in the vicinity so that the bearer always has access to relevant information about the nearest surroundings" says Cliff Randell, the reseacher behind the Blazerjet.
Shopping List Creation
Another application which, according to Cliff Randell, mainly interests women is the automatic creation of shopping lists. You can specify the products you're interested in buying, and as you walk past the shops in town, Blazerjet will send out requests to each store to find out the availability of the products, and possibly their prices. If a successful match is found you are alerted to this. For this to work the shops must have a small tranceiver installed, so some new infrastructure is needed before the full potential of Blazerjet can be fulfilled. "The baseline technologies work today, but we believe that it will not be until the third generation mobile telephony systems are widely available in a few years' time that the Blazerjet and similar products can become commercially viable. In addition, it will be necessary to make all units involved smaller" finishes Cliff Randell.