this space intentionally left blank

June 27, 2007

Filed under: tech»mobile

Didn't PAN out

In 1996, IBM begins researching the personal area network:

as electronic devices become smaller, lower in power requirements, and less expensive, we have begun to adorn our bodies with personal information and communication appliances. such devices include cellular phones, personal digital assistants (pdas), pocket video games, and pagers. currently there is no method for these devices to share data. networking these devices can reduce functional i/o redundancies and allow new conveniences and services. the concept of personal area networks (pans) is presented to demonstrate how electronic devices on and near the human body can exchange digital information by capacitively coupling picoamp currents through the body [emphasis mine]. a low-frequency carrier (less than 1 megahertz) is used so no energy is propagated, minimizing remote eavesdropping and interference by neighboring pans. a prototype pan system allows users to exchange electronic business cards by shaking hands.

Instead we got Bluetooth, transmitted over boring ol' radio waves. It's too bad IBM's research didn't get more traction. There's something appropriate to the idea that the earpiece-wearing Blackberry addicts on the Metro might have to coordinate all that gear by running low-powered electric shocks through their bloodstream.

Future - Present - Past