Let me tell you about a little company called OQO, pronounced Oak-Yo!
I mentioned it a couple of months back in a column about the death of the PDA. You see, OQO launched a PDA-sized computer that runs Windows XP. With that, we can formally toss all of our Palms and Pocket PCs into a bucket and use them to fix wobbly patio furniture.
If you’re a Microsoft or Palm aficionado, you probably don’t agree with me and I guess I’m off the BBQ-invite list this summer, but to heck with it because reader John Riga agrees.
“The article relating to the Death of the PDA featured a product that will revolutionize how we compute and is deserving of a feature article, the OQO computer. Wow!” he wrote in an e-mail.
Well, John, this column’s for you.
After the e-mail came in, I got hold of OQO’s CEO, a rather eccentric but brilliant guy called Jory Bell. (You forgive his nouveau geek French farmer wardrobe when he opens his mouth.) I had met Jory, an Apple alumnus, earlier at the Consumer Electronics Show where he was showing off the company’s first product called the OQO model 01. Jory and his merry band of geeks had been tinkering for four years on the model. I think it’s going to make Riga and like-minded mobilitrogs spin with glee.
Not only will it one day make people want toss away their PDAs, but I suspect many of them will chuck their laptops, too and their MP3 players and their cellular phones, too. That’s because in the tiny little box contains a full-fledged 1 GHz Transmeta computer processor that runs Windows XP. The tin-of-mints-sized computer also got a small color LCD screen built in and a thumb-powered keyboard that slides out for RIM Blackberry-style input. Since the screen is fully graphic, there’s mouse functionality, too. So when you’re on the go, you can whip this unit out and access your Windows XP desktop right there in the palm of your hand. When you get home or back to the office, the unit slots into an included cradle and can connect to a large screen and keyboard. Suddenly, you have a desktop computer in front of you with all the ergonomic privileges afforded by such a set up.
The OQO model 01 has some other fantastic features including wireless functionality in the form of Bluetooth (used largely on cellular phones to connect headsets these days and on some PDAs) and WiFi, which is for high speed wireless networking.
There’re lots of other specs, but I’ll leave you to check them out on www.oqo.com because what’s important about this device is not what it will be in it is initial form, but what it will be in the years to come.
This is the beginning of modular computing. This device can become the control tower for your wearable gadgets. It could talk to nearby speakers blasting MP3s. It could project video wirelessly to large screens in your proximity or to your glasses-borne display. It could one day also make calls on a cellular network and be your GPS locator.
Bell says its chameleon-like secrets will one day be possible because they can lie in a sub-processor in the device’s tiny gut that can come awake long before Windows XP ever boots up. This bit of electronics could actually run on PDA functions or a video or audio decoder. It could also contain a cellular phone emulator.
Bell stunned me when he said: “We carry all these applications around – MP3 player, phone, PDA – because we can’t carry a computer around, but if it was small and light, we would and we wouldn’t need those other devices,” he said. Bell said OQO has already been contacted by more than 10,000 people interested in the computer.
Hey Jory, I got two more for you. Me, and a guy called John Riga.