From San Jose Mercury News on how used FM for its new smart personal object technology (SPOT): “When Microsoft researchers wanted to know how to bring the Internet to everyday devices like the wristwatch, they turned to the sleepy technology of FM radio. It turned out that the trick to making a smart electronic watch was to put in a radio that could pull bits of data out of the same radio waves carrying Muzak into malls and elevators.”
SPOT watches promise to offer users personal data, like the local weather, wherever they are, custom-tailored news headlines, stock prices from the user’s portfolio, personal calendar data and scores for the user’s favorite sports teams.
This type of data could liberate bored employees stuck in meetings, or tell you that you’ve got only 20 minutes to make it to the airport and that traffic is bad on your usual route.
Microsoft found a way to personalize the watches: giving each a unique identification number. The user goes to a Web site and enters the watch number and types preferences into a template. Then, as the watch is receiving the DirectBand signals, it looks only for data associated with the ID number. Hence, your watch only stores data on the sports teams you like and discards the rest.
And because the watch knows which radio station it is receiving the information from, it can use that knowledge to reset itself. For instance, if you travel to Dallas, the watch will pick up signals from the Dallas radio station and reset itself for the appropriate time zone. It can also reset itself with the precision of an atomic clock.