FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What is Origami?

Over the past week, those who follow the development of tech gadgets have been puzzling over Microsoft's Origami Project. The project is supposedly developing a small wireless "mini tablet" device that supports Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and 3G cellular. It will supposedly run Windows XP, include a camera and MP3 player, and will be larger than a PDA but smaller than a typical laptop. The most current suggested retail price is $600.

Although the cryptic Origami website claims that more information will be revealed today, the latest speculation is that Microsoft will formally unveil Origami at the CeBit show in Hanover, Germany (March 9-15). In April 2005, Bill Gates showed off a 6-inch tablet computer that many believe was an Origami prototype. Observers are wondering how Origami might tie in to a flash-based effort from Intel called Ultra Mobile PC -- perhaps this is the hardware running Microsoft's Origami software.

Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome cautions against too much excitement. Having actually seen Origami (and having signed a NDA), Pirillo says, "[I]t's not going to live up to the hype. There are far too many wild-eyed speculations - ranging from the sublime to the grandiose." However, Dennis Rice of GottaBeMobile.com, who has also seen Origami, says, "I can tell you that what I have seen, I like. Alot. I WILL own one, and I will then proceed to take it apart (at least figuratively, possibly physically) and comment on what I think."

UPDATE: The Origami website now says that more information will be available March 9.

UPDATE 2: The latest word from Engadget is that Origami will run XP Tablet PC Edition, and is classified as a "Mobile PC running Windows XP." In other words, it will be a miniature Tablet PC. And, instead of looking like the device shown on the Origami website (shown above), the actual device will look like the one demo'd by Bill Gates last year, with few if any hardware controls:

UPDATE 3: Microsoft formally unveiled Origami today (3/9); the Intel-based device is billed as an "ultra mobile PC" (UMPC) and runs Windows XP Tablet PC edition. Samsung is one of the device's early manufacturers; "Samsung positions the UMPC as a handheld organizer, an MP3 portable music player, a mobile television receiver, a games device and a notebook PC..."

UPDATE 4: Last Thursday (3/2), Topix.net picked up this post as a lead story, and drove FutureWire's traffic to an all-time high. Thanks, Topix!

Sources: CNET, GottaBeMobile.com, Engadget