Geekspeak: March 5, 2001

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.