Tux to Go?

by David Penn

In the wake of the gadget-filled halls of COMDEX last year, perhaps we should have seen it coming. But Xybernaut, a company that makes wearable computers, has just confirmed that its most recent wearable PC, now runs Linux.

John Moynahan, chief financial officer and senior vice president at Xybernaut, cited Linux's inherent network-friendliness and its overall strength as an OS as two major reasons why Linux is a solution for wearable PCs. An increase in customer demand for a Linux port--particularly among Europeans--was also noted as one of the strong motivations for making Xybernaut's Mobile Assistant IV work with Linux.

The Mobile Assistant IV is a complete personal computer that connects remotely to the user's network. The MA IV runs on a 200-233 MHz Pentium processor, up to 128 MB of RAM and 4.3 GB hard drive, and dual PCMCIA cardbus slots. Speech recognition software is also a major part of the Mobile Assistant IV, allowing users to use the technology without removing their hands or attention from their work. The MA IV can be worn in different ways, the most common being as a head-mount display reminiscent of what airline workers wear out on the tarmac. The head-mount display comes with earphones and a small, five-inch screen which, when placed in front of the user's eye, looks like a full-size monitor.

In addition to microphone-assisted speech recognition, users can also operate the Mobile Assistant IV by keyboard or a touchpad worn on the wrist. Currently, the Mobile Assistant IV runs both Red Hat 6.1 and SuSE 6.3.

Xybernaut is one of the leading makers of wearable PC technologies. The majority of Xybernaut's systems are made for industrial work environments in the shipping, automotive, and aerospace industries. Entry-level systems start at about $5,000.

Load Disqus comments