Custom computer manufacturer Glacier Computer -- which specializes in developing custom computing platforms for harsh environments -- has released the Ridgeline W200 wearable computer. I'm not sure if the folks at Glacier have ever played any of the titles in the popular Fallout series of post-apocalyptic computer and video games, but the W200 bears an uncanny similarity to the RobCo Pip-Boy, the ubiquitous wearable computer the player's character wears in Fallout.
Here's the description of the W200 from the Glacier news release:
"The W200 is made of a reinforced magnesium alloy which maximizes strength and minimizes overall weight. At only 10.2 ounces and shaped to the contours of the arm, the W200 combines the same features of a standard computer with a device that provides the convenience and ergonomics of a wrist worn instrument. The W200 boasts a 3.5” color display with touch screen, backlit keyboard and a hot swappable battery pack. The wireless functions of the W200 ensure continuous connectivity regardless of the user's location with plug and play Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS modules. Using the Windows CE or Linux operating systems, the unit can be quickly configured to access any remote host system through integrated wired or wireless interfaces.
And here's the description of the RobCo Pip-Boy from the Fallout Wiki:
"The RobCo Pip-Boy (PIP stands for Personal Information Processor) is an electronic device manufactured by RobCo Industries, using ultra-modern super-deluxe resolution graphics, which coupled with its capability to store large amounts of information and transfer data to and from holodisks and from data tubes make it the obvious choice for the wandering explorer, the out-on-his-own newbie or the all-around survivalist expert...the 3000 model has a built-in radio and Geiger Counter. \[Like earlier models\] the Pip-Boy 3000 features a biometric lock that can only be opened by a skilled technician."
In all seriousness, the W200 does look like an ideal computing solution for use in hazardous off-site locations, and Glacier Computer does have a long history of producing hardened computing devices for use in hazardous environments.
That said, does the arrival of wearable wrist computers mean we're one step closer to living in bomb-proof underground vaults and scrounging for metal scraps and canned goods? While I'm not sure the W200 (and the recent availability of armed robotic sentries) point towards a machine-controlled, post-apocalyptic future, but it does provide food for thought. Maybe I'll keep that Roomba robotic vacuum unplugged, just in case....