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Old 09-28-2005, 11:11 AM   #1
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Palm's "Secret Third Business" isn't the LifeDrive

In a recent interview of Jeff Hawkins by Janet Rae-Dupree, technology editor for the San Jose Business Journal, Jeff Hawkins spoke about a secret third business that Palm is working on:

There is a third business that I've been working on but I'm not going to tell you what it is. It's in mobile computing. It's something different and it's in its early stage. We have three businesses at PalmOne. One you don't even know about, which is just a child. Another is the teenager and the other one is the mature 45-year-old.

Later in the interview he offers these hints:

I'll give you a couple clues. I always think of mobile computing as personal computing. This long-term vision has led us through everything -- first the organizers and now through the smart phone space. It's like everything a personal computer is. Continue down that path. What are the implications of a world where everyone has a super high-speed Internet connection in their pocket and many gigabytes of storage, super-fast processors, audio, visual and multimedia? What are the consequences of that? How will that change computing when you have all that stuff available to you all the time? I try to think into the future. That's how we come up with new products. So I'm not going to tell you what it is, but it's following the consequences of mobile computing.

This interview caused a lot of speculation about this "third business", with many people concluding that Mr. Hawkins was talking about the LifeDrive, not another device still under development. I never bought into this conclusion, however, and now it appears that Palm is in fact working on something, and it isn't the LifeDrive.

Michael Ducker of Treocentral.com attended an Analyst event at Palm this past Monday, at which time Jeff Hawkins offered this tease, as detailed in this article:

Hawkins could not leave without a tease, and so he explained how the the original Palm and the Treo were revolutionary devices, and how everything else released by Palm were sustaining devices. Now, he claims that Palm is working on a 3rd revolutionary device that will keep the company going over the next half decade. Lastly, the Windows Mobile Treo is not the only device Palm will announce this year, and I quote "We'll be announcing more products before the years end".

So, now the two part question is: What is this revolutionary new device, and does it have anything to do with his work at Numenta?
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Old 09-28-2005, 11:25 AM   #2
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I don't think it will come out this quarter, as they have guided the market lower, meaning they don't expect to have a big product for now...

Well, they'd kept the Windows Treo secret too, so that isn't the third secret either... maybe they have a Windows Tablet in the works...
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Old 09-28-2005, 12:09 PM   #3
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I think when you put all of his statements and hints together, the following is likely:

Quote:
What are the implications of a world where everyone has a super high-speed Internet connection in their pocket and many gigabytes of storage, super-fast processors, audio, visual and multimedia?
1. The upcoming device will probably be a Treo/LifeDrive hybrid, probably with Wifi and Bluetooth, and 4-6GB plus of internal storage.

Quote:
Q: What exactly are you building, then?

A: I'll try to make it as simple as possible. Ultimately, it's the algorithm of the neocortex, the human brain. It lets you build machines that do things that humans can do. We can see what things are. We can understand language and we can type on a computer and move about. This is all done using this memory system that's in the brain and we can now build this memory system in software or in hardware. Our products are a set of tools that allow you to configure these memory systems, which we call HTM, hierarchical temporal memory. You can interface them with a thing like a camera or a microphone or sonar and it learns about its environment in the same way you learned about your environment when you were a child. It can model the environment, recognize things in it and make predictions about the future.

What we're building is actually a platform. It's like a new type of operating system. It's a platform on which people can use our tools to create new applications for solving different types of problems.

Q: You could build it into a digital camera that would recognize a scene?

A: You could do that. You could have a computer that looks at images and knows what they are. It could look at images of Janet Rae-Dupree and know who you are. A car manufacturer may make a car that understands traffic. You could have a car that knows how to drive or that recognizes dangerous situations. You could have robots that can fix machinery. It's a memory system that learns the causes in the world. So what is a cause? Causes are things that actually exist. They're persistent objects like a car or a train or a desk or a building that present themselves to your brain through your senses. What the eye actually sees and the ear hears is really messy. The unsolved problem in artificial intelligence is: Given what's on your eye, what's really out there? You could call that object recognition but it's more sophisticated than that. Causes can be physical things, but they also can be things like ideas and words, music is a cause, a song is a cause -- anything that persists in the world. The brain doesn't know at first what's out there. When you're born, you don't know anything about trains and cars and buildings and language and so forth. The brain discovers all of that.

Q: How soon might we see HTM applied to real-world problems, like hurricane tracking?

A: Hard to say. I would say that it should be in five years but I wouldn't be surprised if it happened a lot sooner. I think it's more like two or three years.
2. Based on the timeline of his predictions for applying "real intelligence" to actual products combined with his statement in the Analyst Meeting that this new revolutionary device will "keep the company going over the next half decade", whatever this new device is, it will be the predecessor to a mobile computing device that has Numenta's "real intelligence" operating system.
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Old 09-28-2005, 12:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gadgetguru
I don't think it will come out this quarter, as they have guided the market lower, meaning they don't expect to have a big product for now...
Well, Hawkins was talking about product announcements, not actual releases.
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Old 09-28-2005, 01:09 PM   #5
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Based on the hints he's already supplied,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian
In a recent interview of Jeff Hawkins by Janet Rae-Dupree, technology editor for the San Jose Business Journal, Jeff Hawkins spoke about a secret third business that Palm is working on:

...I'll give you a couple clues. I always think of mobile computing as personal computing. This long-term vision has led us through everything -- first the organizers and now through the smart phone space. It's like everything a personal computer is. Continue down that path. What are the implications of a world where everyone has a super high-speed Internet connection in their pocket and many gigabytes of storage, super-fast processors, audio, visual and multimedia? What are the consequences of that? How will that change computing when you have all that stuff available to you all the time? I try to think into the future. That's how we come up with new products. So I'm not going to tell you what it is, but it's following the consequences of mobile computing.
I'd say he's working on a handheld multi-media platform with wifi, BT and most likely phone capabilities (only way to provide "always on/connected capability) that is powerful enough to display streaming video. In other words, the ability to do everything you now do with a PC connected to the internet, just pocket-sized. This would provide a very capable hardware platform that Numenta could build on.

Just a thought.
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Old 09-28-2005, 02:42 PM   #6
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Possibly Image Tag related...

What if your Palm had a decent camera, decent image editing software, and the ability to upload quickly?

...and what if you could annotate images/video in real time on your Palm screen, then lock down the image/video and upload it to a database (the Web)? Moblogging with tags essentially.

Perhaps Hawkins is re-inventing the Palm to be a vision-centric "Personal Experience Device" (P.E.D.). Basically moblogging with decent tagging/blogging software. The key to this experience would be the SOFTWARE, not the hardware. Just ask any Palm user who TO THIS DAY cannot get a decent image editor (Resco's image doohicky notwithstanding)

One nifty feature that Flickr.com uses is image tags. This is great for the Flickr website because you are manually adding metadata to images. Each user is basically building a database of images, something that most machines are incapable of doing. Now imagine people doing this in the field with a P.E.D. and building their online blog/life/journal/experience to share with family/friends.

Not too much of a stretch but this of course might not be what Hawkins is hocking...

BTW, the process of adding metadata manually to images is great for the Flickr company (Yahoo), which undoubtedly will change their terms of service some day and state "everything you've uploaded we have digital rights to." They'll carrot/stick it somehow with a $20 gift certificate to Appleby's but by then advertisers will be waiting to buy this stock photography that's so easily searchable (courtesy of you!).
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Old 09-28-2005, 03:03 PM   #7
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I'm hoping this is not an AI-based innovation, but a new approach to the IBM Soul-Pad sort of computing, but with a slate/tablet form.

While that's what I'd like, my guess would be that Palm is really after someting like a ubiquitous computing platform that's internet based. Sort of a personal grid device based on a new OS architecture to compete with Windows and Linux and MacOSX. The sort of thing that people have been predicting to come from Google. But Palm might scoop them on it. I would be against it, except he talked about lots of storage. This fits his description if he means lots of storage on a server. I'd like it better if this vision included lots of local storage AND lots of server storage.

But I can't wait to hear the product announcement or more leaks. That may be as exciting (or disappointing) as the product release.
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Old 09-28-2005, 03:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobR
I'm hoping this is not an AI-based innovation, but a new approach to the IBM Soul-Pad sort of computing, but with a slate/tablet form.

While that's what I'd like, my guess would be that Palm is really after someting like a ubiquitous computing platform that's internet based. Sort of a personal grid device based on a new OS architecture to compete with Windows and Linux and MacOSX. The sort of thing that people have been predicting to come from Google. But Palm might scoop them on it. I would be against it, except he talked about lots of storage. This fits his description if he means lots of storage on a server. I'd like it better if this vision included lots of local storage AND lots of server storage.

But I can't wait to hear the product announcement or more leaks. That may be as exciting (or disappointing) as the product release.
I agree that with a fast enough connection and ubiquitous connectivity, both online and offline storage will probably come into play. Something along the lines of Apple's .Mac accounts.

With such a device and connectivity to a mouse/keyboard/monitor or a "host" computer like IBM's Soul Pad, it would become your primary computing device, and give a whole new meaning to the "Palm Desktop". All of your most important files, applications, and data would be accessible locally on the device or in your own personal "vault" online.
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Old 09-28-2005, 03:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian
I agree that with a fast enough connection and ubiquitous connectivity, both online and offline storage will probably come into play. Something along the lines of Apple's .Mac accounts.

With such a device and connectivity to a mouse/keyboard/monitor or a "host" computer like IBM's Soul Pad, it would become your primary computing device, and give a whole new meaning to the "Palm Desktop". All of your most important files, applications, and data would be accessible locally on the device or in your own personal "vault" online.
This is exactly where I think he's headed, shifting any and everything that can be shifted from the desktop/laptop to "...your own personal 'vault' online". Now think of the possibilities: 1) ability to back-up device online 2) ability to sync calendar online.

I think the device will have a few gig but I think he will provide a hosted online repository for virtually unlimited storage, for a fee of course. I think the device will be able to download and install software w/o syncing; thus, creating a device that has no dependence on the desktop at all.
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Old 09-29-2005, 07:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanwms
I think the device will have a few gig but I think he will provide a hosted online repository for virtually unlimited storage, for a fee of course.
It'd be even cooler if the protocol used for the repository would then be open-source... you could use your own server for hosting your PDA content.
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Old 09-29-2005, 01:48 PM   #11
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In that analyst meeting, Jeff talked about putting the user in the center... and about power and control... He said it would be transformational (I forget the exact word he used) just as the first Palm Pilot and the Treo were. He said it's not about the currently trendy topics like location-aware apps. There are basic user needs that are still left unfulfilled.

Increased bandwidth, increased memory, increased computing power, just aren't revolutionary enough, I think.

I think it's going to be about a lot of stuff talked about before that we're still waiting for...
User authentication - opening doors, access to PCs, starting your car
Commerce - wireless point-of-sale purchases, person-to-person payments
Control - programming your TiVo or your thermostat, checking your security cameras or whether the laundry is done
We should be able to do all of this with our phone/devices... eventually.
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Old 09-29-2005, 07:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samkim
In that analyst meeting, Jeff talked about putting the user in the center... and about power and control... He said it would be transformational (I forget the exact word he used) just as the first Palm Pilot and the Treo were. He said it's not about the currently trendy topics like location-aware apps. There are basic user needs that are still left unfulfilled.

Increased bandwidth, increased memory, increased computing power, just aren't revolutionary enough, I think.

I think it's going to be about a lot of stuff talked about before that we're still waiting for...
User authentication - opening doors, access to PCs, starting your car
Commerce - wireless point-of-sale purchases, person-to-person payments
Control - programming your TiVo or your thermostat, checking your security cameras or whether the laundry is done
We should be able to do all of this with our phone/devices... eventually.
And this is precisely why a merger of PalmSource and Access makes sense. The Japanese are well ahead of America in linking household appliances, transit fares and Point of Sale to your phone. We're still stuck with 3 inch square, hard white plastic dashboard-mounted, view-obstructing RF cards to pay bridge tolls (which took quite a while to get different bureaucratic fiefdoms in the same metropolitan area to accept).
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Old 09-29-2005, 08:04 PM   #13
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Samkim,

Welcome to MobileRead, and thanks for the info. I agree that much has been promised in the past that has yet to materialize, including home automation integration, the death of cash and telemetrics.

For a great book that probably offers a lot of insight into what we might expect from Palm's next revolutionary device that Jeff Hawkins hinted at during the Analyst Day presentation, I highly recommend Going Wireless by Jaclyn Easton.
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Old 09-29-2005, 09:58 PM   #14
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Thanks Brian. Looks like a great book. I just ordered it.

Btw, how is eBoys? I bought that book years ago, but I never got around to reading it.


And in case anyone's interested in hearing Jeff talk about his vision (at a high level), you can watch the replay here: http://ir.palm.com
It's the "Analyst Day" event. The whole session was 4 hours, but Jeff gets on near the beginning - maybe the second speaker.

Last edited by samkim; 09-29-2005 at 10:05 PM. Reason: adding a link to Jeff Hawkins presentation
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Old 09-29-2005, 10:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samkim
Thanks Brian. Looks like a great book. I just ordered it.
You're welcome, and I hope you enjoy it. I might have to go through it again as a refresher .

Quote:
Btw, how is eBoys? I bought that book years ago, but I never got around to reading it.
I just finished listening to it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes information about the world of hi-tech startups, venture capital firms, and how innovative ideas are incubated in Silicon Valley.

Quote:
And in case anyone's interested in hearing Jeff talk about his vision (at a high level), you can watch the replay here: http://ir.palm.com
It's the "Analyst Day" event. The whole session was 4 hours, but Jeff gets on near the beginning - maybe the second speaker.
Great, thanks! I'll have a listen and will be taking notes . What's with the RealPlayer and Windows Media Player formats?
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