Scott Hanselman

Revolutions don't always start at the hardware transport layer...

February 2, '03 Comments [0] Posted in Web Services | Gaming
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ExtremeTech: "Microsoft's SPOT smart objects might indeed be tomorrow's technology -- if you were living in the 1980's. That's because the technology used in SPOT, FM subcarrier transmission, was originally used as a last-gasp effort by the Atari 2600 to distribute games wirelessly over the radio." [Brian Jepson]

This is a short-sighted comment from ExtremeTech.  NTSC (the television spec) has been around at LEAST since 1941, and even though we're still waiting for HDTV to replace it, technologies like ReplayTV and Tivo have revolutionized how people use a 60+ year old transport standard. And I italicize transport standard because it's just that. 

Sure, FM subcarrier transmission is an old technology, but so is TCP/IP.  Revolution doesn't always happen at the hardware transport layer.  TCP/IP in some form will be with us in 25 years. No question. Moreover, we don't need to resort to using the 3G spectrum to revolutionize data transfer.

I think Microsoft is going to win with SPOT.  I never forget my watch.  I misplace my cell phone, my PocketPC, my Blackberry, all the time.  But 99% of the time, my watch is on.  Arguably, my watch IS as physical part of me as my wedding ring.  We're not going to start carrying cell phones on necklaces (although they've started in Asia) anytime soon.  So, what valuable information can be delivered to the device I already carry with me?

<sarcasm>Of course, another (failed) idea would be for me to completely change my dressing habits and buy a pair of Dockers Mobile Pants.  Right, because the problem isn't too many devices, it was not enough pockets.</sarcasm>

A watch has an awfully low signal-to-noise ratio.  I mean, it takes up a lot of space (and it sure is shiny) , just so I can tell time.  But, somehow, I continue to carry it around with me, even though the time is all over the signs on the street, my office, my car, my cell phone.  Adding information to a device I'm already carrying with me is a much better example of an IdeaVirus than the proliferation of small devices that came out during the e-Nineties.  I mean, how many devices with a battery, screen and buttons do I need? 

SPOT will work.  It's an innovative use of: an existing device with an existing transport layer.  Just you watch.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.