Geekspeak: March 5, 2001

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2001-03-05 Print this article Print

It gives you plenty of time to say 'Cheese'

About 2 inches long, this chunk of plastic looks as if it came from a Cracker Jack box, but its actually the remote control that comes as standard equipment with an Olympus C-3030Z digital camera.

Apart from its practical value (no more rushing to get into a group photo before the timer fires), its a symbol of the crossing of the cost curves: As long as the camera has infrared hardware to aid in low-light focusing, why not add a little software and let the same subsystem do double duty as a remote-control receiver?

Functions that used to require bulky, costly, unreliable hardware like relays and wires are being taken over by software—adding essentially nothing to the cost of the product because the microprocessor is already there to perform other tasks. This is just one tiny example of the future of smart machines.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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