HP offers peek at next-gen gadgets

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HP offers peek at next-gen gadgets

Computer firm's labs display the latest hi-tech stuff.

HP has unveiled some of the gadgets it is working on in its worldwide laboratories.

Phil McKinney, chief technology officer at HP's Personal Systems Group, demonstrated an e-book reader operated entirely by touch, a handheld GPS computer and a next-generation RFID system that can be embedded in a business card.

The e-book attracted most interest from delegates at the HP Mobility Summit in Shanghai. It uses touch sensitive strips on the base of the rectangular unit to select books and turn pages, runs a Linux OS and has a USB port to install new titles.

"This one passes what I call my wife test: if she likes it I know I'm onto a goer," McKinney told vnunet.com.

"Whenever I have to take the prototype to a show I have to drag it out of her hands. We will definitely be bringing this to market."

There are still some niggles to iron out, notably a battery life of four hours when 15 hours is the minimum the team at HP Labs think is commercially viable.

HP Labs is also developing a technology called Websigns, which allows a PDA to 'see' where its user is facing and give information on shops and services directly in that location.

This is achieved with a PDA that combines a GPS system and an internal compass that determines position and location on an electronic map.

Finally, McKinney demonstrated a next-generation RFID chip called MemorySpot that can not only be read, but easily modified.

The capacity ranges from 256KB to 4MB and the models range from one smaller than a pin head to another around the size of a grain of rice.

A special reader can scan the chip and pull text, sound or video and play it simultaneously. The team see such devices being embedded in business cards and photos.
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