Making Computers Disappear

Why should you have to see them?

Ted Selker's enthusiasm is clear even over the coast-to-coast videoconference. Selker--a research fellow at IBM's Almaden (Calif.) lab--is showing off some of the ideas that IBM has for 21st-century information appliances. A 1.4-pound, 4-by-7-by-1- inch computer is strapped to his waist. Imagine, he says, you're inspecting a chemical plant or a Boeing 747 and need your hands free but also need to look at a schematic diagram. He flips open the unit, displaying a tiny keyboard and screen. Next, Selker reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wallet. Sewn into one side is a pager. In another part of the wallet is a scanner and even a tiny keyboard. Add a 3-ounce battery pack and it's a cellular phone, too.

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