A small startup in Microsoft Corp.s backyard is poised to begin shipping a tiny, 32-pin chip-like computer module that runs ".NET Embedded," a new Microsoft embedded software platform developed for use in watches and other "smart personal objects."
The module, developed by .netcpu Corp., incorporates portions of Microsofts Smart Personal Objects Technology hardware and software. Microsoft developed SPOT to allow its software to be used more pervasively. The technology was unveiled by Bill Gates nearly two years ago, and has since become the basis of a series of consumer wristwatch products from leading watch makers.
SPOT represents a set of hardware and software technologies capable of being embedded in "watches, accessories, peripherals, display surfaces, appliances, everyday objects, personals, mobiles, sensors/actuators, and toys," said Donald Thompson, software architect and former development manager for SPOT. SPOTs overall goal is to "increase the usefulness of everyday objects that we can wear, carry, or that might be scattered throughout the environment, ultimately making some activity easier and/or more enjoyable," Thompson said.
SPOTs .NET Embedded software stack, called .NET Embedded, includes bootstrap code to initialize the system on powerup; a Tiny HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and device drivers to control the underlying system hardware; and a Tiny CLR, through which the device is programmed.
The Tiny CLR implements a subset of the .NET CLR (Common Language Runtime), enabling SPOT devices to run high-level code written using a subset of the .NET Framework, a Java-like runtime environment (the .NET Framework subset for Windows CE is known as .NET Compact Framework).