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Technology

Woz's New Startup 193

Several readers noted that Woz has a startup called Wheels of Zeus. He's come out of "Semi Retirement" to work on a new wireless handheld sort of thing. Not a lot of details, but it certainly could shape up to be interesting. Specifically mentions GPS. Supposedly Woz.com will have data eventually, but currently is just really slow and redirecting to Woz's personal page.
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Woz's New Startup

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  • by nomadic ( 141991 )
    I wish him luck, but isn't everyone and their brother trying to figure out how to integrate GPS, handheld PCs, communications devices, etc. into a handheld? And not a lot of people seem to be buying.

    Oh well, I guess if anyone could come up with something truly innovative, it would be him...
    • Re:hmm (Score:2, Funny)

      by Ed Avis ( 5917 )
      Maybe the special emphasis on GPS is to answer the question 'where is Woz nowadays?'. He just needs to carry one of the handhelds at all times.
    • And not a lot of people seem to be buying.


      That's because no one has done it right so far. Battery life on an IPAQ or Jornada is to short to make a useful GPS(for me anyway.) It should be able to last a weekend without needing to be recharged.


      I use a Palm Pilot, GPS, cell phone, and MP3 player separately. If someone combined all those things into a single device that was still small and had a good battery life I would definitely snap it up.

  • but currently is just really slow and redirecting to Woz's personal page.

    Oh that poor server. If it's already slow, having a link to it posted on the front page of /. isn't going to help matters any. That and it's probably just the poor guys DSL line or something (I can't even get there to check that, however).

    :-\
  • Finally one of the great minds is back in action. I wonder if this new project will be contributed to by apple?
  • Guard your wheels, man! Don't let Microsoft steal your shit again...
  • This project is in its early stages. However, I wonder if and when the business/marketing plan for this thing is developed that woz will consider the lessons learned from Apple pricing themselves out of the market?

    • The new company will not initially announce what products it is planning and Mr. Wozniak said this week it was likely that it would not at first market its own products. It will instead seek licensing and marketing arrangements with other consumer electronics and related companies.


      appears that unlike the first Apples, Woz plans on licensing [nytimes.com] these things at first. proving he has at least learned something!
    • Woz specifically designed the original Apple(s) *not* to price themselves out of the market. It was the Mac that made Apple's name as a "boutique" computer seller, and that was when they really started overpricing their equipment. Woz was already gone, if not in absolute terms, at least in any practical ones.
  • A plea to Woz (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <ememalb&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:37AM (#2888490) Homepage Journal
    For the love of God,

    PLEASE INNOVATE!!! Don't do the standard all in one hand held, do something unique...well hell, something Woz like even
    • by WillWare ( 11935 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:45PM (#2888879) Homepage Journal
      PLEASE INNOVATE!!!

      Agreement. My dog has a deal in flight with the cat next door to produce a handheld wireless GPS widget, prototyping from stuff I left in the garage last summer. We get three or four VCs knocking at the door each day, but then she loses her composure and starts barking real loud, and they go away. Everybody is doing some slight variation on this theme.

      Come on now, this is Wozniak. Maybe he can't do the insanely-ingenious thing himself any more, but I'd hope he could identify and hire somebody who still can.

    • by alexburke ( 119254 ) <.ac.ekrubxela. .ta. .todhsals+xela.> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @04:19PM (#2890380)
      PLEASE INNOVATE!!!

      Our lawyers will be in touch shortly regarding your flagrant misuse of our trademark.

      Ford Prefect
      Chief Counsel
      Microsoft Corporation
    • I own a PDA, a PCS phone, a TI-85 calculator, and a 2.1 Mpixel camera. I would like to have a portable MP3 player, GPS receiver, TV remote, and handheld computer (no, PalmOS doesn't quite cut it for general purpose software) as well. I am swamped with a multitude of electronic gadgets, with more to come, and yet my lowly mechanical engineering background leaves me unable to say why exactly these things can't all be done by the same device. By your use of the phrase "standard all in one hand held", I assume you know where I can find such a device. Please share this information. Thank you.
  • Supposedly Woz.com will have data eventually, but currently is just really slow and redirecting to Woz's personal page.

    Way to go. Knowingly posting a link to a site that was already slow in the first place. Do you hate Woz, or something?
  • WOZ up (Score:5, Funny)

    by krikke ( 248069 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:39AM (#2888501)
    You don't turn the device on, you power it up by saying, "WOZ up."

    You don't find your scheduler, you say, "WOZ happening."

    The reason you can't find anything at the website woz.com is because you didn't say, "WOZ it do?"

    WOZ, I'm not funny today? WOZ the matter? WOZ wrong with you?
  • I wonder how this new wireless startup will interact/affect with his role at Danger, Inc. [danger.com] as a member of the board. Will WoZ work with Danger, compete with them, or be completely unrelated?
    • The danger product isn't all that impressive. If anything, WOZ should compliment danger's product. I don't see the danger website mention anything about GSPS or location determination. It might, but I'm too lazy to go through every page to find it.
  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:39AM (#2888511) Journal
    Cool, Now Apple Can Compete With Dell!

    I can just imagine Steve Wozniak on TV in an elf costume as he shouts, "Dude, you're gettin' an Apple!"

    Hmmm, OK, maybe not...
  • it will be interesting to see if this new wireless will be capable of multiple standards (802.11a-b, bluetooth, etc.) or if this will just be another competing standard.
  • Say, a watch that can help you navigate to the nearest pub? Maybe. Yet, this is The Woz. The guy who designed the Apple Computer. (Jobs is just a marketer, albeit a good one.) If anyone can come up with something truly new and cool, it's him.
  • I don't know about anyone else, but I'd love to work with the woz. Even though the woz has said his post plane-crash self wasn't as sharp, he's still a brilliant engineer. Wireless devices are useful, but only coupled with GPS and accurate location data. It's too bad the carriers are purposely holding that up. If the woz can manage to integrate a gps unit with the device and have it be under 200, he just might have a chance.
    • I too would love to work with Woz. Not only because of his brilliance, but also he's humanity (left Apple to teach children!), and his understanding of the hacker sub-culture, I mean he's work with Captin Crunch!
    • My Visor and the Magellan GPS module is a GPS/PIM for Less than 300, but there's nothing *cool* about that.

      How about auto-sensing wireless LANs, bluetooth-compliant, solar powered, MP3/DVD-playing (uploaded into the device of course, no discs), web server (why the hell not?), with a voice module that can use the integrated cell phone to call and place orders, make appointments, order movie tickets, call in sick..

      Oh yeah, and a GPS receiver.
    • how does integrating GPS and accurate location data make a wireless device more usefull?

      using wireless GPS, i could call my wife and tell her that i am stuck in traffic, and that i'll be home in 10 miles. or i could email the boss and say, sorry, i'm going to be late for the 8:30 this morning, i'll be in the office in 8.25 miles, but traffic is really slow right where i am.
      • Well, having worked on wireless location technology, say you don't have 50K to get a high end lexus with GPS option. You're getting on the freeway and there's an accident about half way to work, but there are alternate routes. The scenarios we worked out were to alert the consumer of the accident and suggest an alternate route. How would you like to know which alternate route is least congested, since others will try to navigate around the accident. Not only that, with profiling and personalization, the system could suggest a faster route to work, which you're not aware of. Image if everyone had GPS enabled devices and the state transit service used a combination of cell data, gps data and sensors embedded in the road to provide realtime traffic data. Now you have the ability to generate optimal driving directions based on realtime data. In some states and cities, the roads already have embedded sensors to detect the rate of traffic. For example, the California transit district website will show you a map of the freeways and the average speed at that point.

        Other less impressive things to do is searching for things based on your location. Say you're on vacation and you get a wicked headache. It would be nice to find the closest drug store and have your perscription sent there if you have a particular alergy. There are a lot more things you can do with location technology.

      • Maybe finding your way to places that haven't been to before?

        What about having the PDA tell you to do things when you get to a particular /place/ rather than a particular time, e.g. 'next time I'm in the supermarket, remind me to get some washing powder'?

        There may be all sorts of possible wireless e-commerce ideas, for instance calling a cab and not knowing where on earth you were - you could go to a web page and they could find you.

        If you're really weak-willed, you could set the PDA up to make a guess at whether you're really doing what you said you wanted to do, or if you've actually gone for a beer instead.

        Just some ideas....

        • If you're really weak-willed, you could set the PDA up to make a guess at whether you're really doing what you said you wanted to do, or if you've actually gone for a beer instead.

          "No, Bob, I'm not going to go jogging with your PDA so that it thinks you've earned another Heineken. You need help."

          --
          Benjamin Coates
  • does anyone remember (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Syre ( 234917 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:48AM (#2888563)
    Does anyone remember Woz's last failed startup (at least the last one I heard about), which was also making wireless devices... these were big, complicated programmable remote controls.

    The company was called CL9... you can read about it here [google.com] in google's cache (since his site is slashdotted at the moment).

    The devices and company were a complete failure as I recall... I don't think he's done any notably successful product since the Apple ][, so I don't hold out high hopes for this new venture either.
    • On A&E Biography (I think it was there), he said while working on it, he found that he enjoyed looking out the window to the ocean than working on the remote. And that was basically the downfall of the product, because it never got the attention it needed.

      He pretty much went into retirement after that. Short story, Apple II, plane crash, amnesia, quit Apple ... stuff ... cl9 ... stuff ... woz.com.
    • Remote controls and "driving down the cost of GPS" got me thinking. I could use a GPS on my remote control so I could just find it. A really cheap and small GPS combined with some way to transmit its ID - and then a master device to tell me where the Hell it is. Expand that out to a small cheap widget that can be stuck to random objects to tell where the Hell they've gotten to and you may actually have a business.

      garyr
      and yes - I'm talking out my ass, but this is slashdot after all.
      • That would be nice, but GPS has it's limitations. It rarely works completely indoors (i.e. not by a window, etc.), and it's only accurate to about 15 feet at best (unless you get a REALLY expensive GPS receiver... I am talking about the consumer models here).

      • Expand that out to a small cheap widget that can be stuck to random objects to tell where the Hell they've gotten to and you may actually have a business.

        I can see it now - parents attaching widgets to their children so they can track them when they go to the mall ...

        "Honey, I lost Jeffy in Walmart. Can you go to the car and get the GPS system?"
  • The Apple alumni have always been a creative bunch, I'm interested to see what he has to contribute.
  • Cleaver (Score:1, Redundant)

    by eyeball ( 17206 )
    Haha, Wheels of Zeus. It's an acronym for WOZ. I feel so smart now. *eyeroll*
  • help everyday people track everyday things.

    More often than not I lose my everyday things (keys, wallet) inside the house, where GPS doesn't work.

    Oh well ... I'll just wait for "WozGizmo II"
    • Didn't they have those radio tags that you could attach to keys, etc at the CES? I remember looking at the article for those and thinking, "Wow... that's useful."
  • by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:54AM (#2888595) Homepage
    Hmm... Why Wheels Of Zeus?

    Must be some babe killer device, that you pop into your babe magnet car. Using GPS, the device automatically points you to your next laison, while spitting out details like her name, what persona you used to get into her pants, any offspring you might have sired with her.

    Not what I expected from Woz, but hey, it might be a big hit.
    • WOZ - W(heels)O(f)Z(eus)
    • by Tetsujin28 ( 156148 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:49PM (#2889401) Homepage

      Must be some babe killer device, that you pop into your babe magnet car. Using GPS, the device automatically points you to your next laison, while spitting out details like her name, what persona you used to get into her pants, any offspring you might have sired with her.


      The only catch is that for Wheels of Zeus to work this way you must approach unto her in the form of a bull or a swan or something.
      • for Wheels of Zeus to work this way you must approach unto her in the form of a bull or a swan or something.

        That would only work if her name was "Leda", and she was skinny-dipping :o)
    • Hmm... Why Wheels Of Zeus?

      Although your explanation was much, much funnier, I think that "Wheels of Zeus" was probably chunked out because it's acronym spells...you guessed it..."Woz." Maybe The Woz is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis and is looking to spice up his image? :)
    • It's a Segway...whoops!
  • hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by perdida ( 251676 ) <thethreatproject.yahoo@com> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:54AM (#2888598) Homepage Journal
    "Recent advances in global positioning software (GPS) systems and antenna technology coupled with the declining cost of processing power and two-way networking make the possibilities for new devices and services really exciting,'' Wozniak said in a statement.

    A report in the New York Times on Wednesday said Wozniak would not immediately announce what products he is developing. A spokesman for the company was not immediately available to comment further.

    If he's interested in hyping up his GPS doo-hickey, perhaps he should tell us what it is.

    If he's interested in hyping his stock, he should hang out [dekaresearch.com] with Dubya [enron.com].

    • Screw Segway, have you seen the iBot [independen...europe.com]? Now that looks like a seriously cool piece of technology! Check out the "balance function" video.
      • by Peyna ( 14792 )
        You know what, when I first heard about the Segway, I was under the impression it was going to be something more like iBot (perhaps I just heard two accounts of information and combined them.) iBot seems more impressive to me, I think I remember seeing something on PBS about it now that you mention it.
  • by madro ( 221107 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:55AM (#2888606)
    (The article can be found here [nytimes.com]. Excerpts follow.)

    ... It plans to have its first products finished sometime next year. .... By driving down the cost of G.P.S. technology, the company says, it expects to help "everyday people track everyday things." ... It is the first start-up venture for Mr. Wozniak since he closed his previous company, Cloud 9, a maker of high-end consumer remote control devices, in 1988.

    While Mr. Jobs went on to found Next Inc., bought Pixar (news/quote), and then returned to Apple as its chief executive in 1997, Mr. Wozniak, now 51, has largely remained on the sidelines. That has made him unusual in a hothouse business and technology culture that is characterized by serial entrepreneurs, few of them walking away after either success or failure. Instead, he has occupied himself with private investments and has taught computer education for elementary through high school students in the Los Gatos, Calif., school district, where he lives.

    The new company will not initially announce what products it is planning and Mr. Wozniak said this week it was likely that it would not at first market its own products. It will instead seek licensing and marketing arrangements with other consumer electronics and related companies.

    He said one goal was to take technologies that are now costly and reduce them in price so they could be sold in consumer markets. ...
    Mr. Wozniak said he had enjoyed simply being a consumer of new technologies for more than a decade. But last year, a friend visited and began talking about an idea that used G.P.S. in a strange way and he found himself excited by the prospects of doing something with this.

    "Sometimes I say that and I'm not really serious," he remarked, "but this time I was really serious."

    ...
    Mr. Galanos said his firm had been excited about both the company's technology idea and the possibility of backing Mr. Wozniak.

    "After all how many times will Steve jump on something new again?" he said.
  • How low can you sink? Stealing hubcaps from greek gods
    will definetly get you a lightning bolt in the head and a personal parking spot in Hades.

    (Hades has a Kerberos authentication system, BTW)
  • Woz has done many creative things in life and will continue to do more.

    (former member of the Palo Alto Homebrew Computer Club)
    • by biobogonics ( 513416 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @02:38PM (#2889778)
      Woz has done many creative things in life and will continue to do more.

      (former member of the Palo Alto Homebrew Computer Club)


      Considering some of his outrageous hacks, I would not be surprised. One of his early characteristics was to do outrageous things in hardware or software. Here are a few examples.

      1. The screen memory on the Apple II was not laid out in a linear fashion but in a crazy quilt to lower the chip count on the motherboard. This resulted in headaches in converting a cursor address to a screen location.

      2. Woz's Apple II parallel card didn't use a bit in a PIO to handshake with the printer, instead the handshake line *changed the addressing on a PROM* which toggled the executing code back and forth between active code and a do-nothing loop - talk about self modifying code!!!

      3. One of the earliest cards for the Apple II was a modem with a "blue box" on a card. Obviously this was never produced in quantity.

      4. Woz's binary to decimal conversion routine using the decimal addition mode of the 6502 chip is a classic. Unlike the 8080 and 80x86, which have decimal adjust instructions that are added after an addition or subtraction, on the 6502, the processor is put into and later taken out of decimal math mode. This made the 6502 lovely for controling devices using packed BCD (binary coded decimal), something that the 80xxx family does not do nearly as well.
  • by Milalwi ( 134223 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:04PM (#2888658)

    Supposedly Woz.com will have data eventually, but currently is just really slow and redirecting to Woz's personal page.

    I'm sure slashdotting it will speed it up.

    Milalwi
  • I always liked woz, he came off as a really nice person. I dont know how that will play out in the business world. The other steve is to arrogant (sp?) for my tastes. Still in the contest against Billy and Larry. I wish woz luck with this venture
  • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:07PM (#2888679) Homepage
    First you link to John Romero's [slashdot.org] home page and now Woz's?

    I feel like I bought one of those cheap "Homes of the Stars" maps roadside in Hollywood.

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:08PM (#2888684) Journal
    Wheels of Zeus brings the following image to mind:

    A Seqway intregrated with Wireless PDA support with a Wireless Flight helmet heads up display for an outdoor wheeled version of Quake on a specially prepared field or arena.

    The First Truely wireless sports experience.

    Thus: "Wheels of Zeus"

    The wireless pda could be used to facilitate score keeping, etc.

  • Depending on how this goes, does anyone else see the potential for this:
    WOZ-->iWalk (and know where I'm going)?

    Maybe it's just me
  • Zeus Wireless [zeuswireless.com] is already a wireless-device company, almost bankrupt before it was bought by Young Design, Inc. I wonder if "Wheels of Zeus" will be close enough a concept to warrant a lawsuit...

  • Did anyone see the special on hacking that was on Discovery channel (I think -- my TiVo grabbed it) a couple weeks ago? Woz was on there, along with Mitnick and a few others. They were talking about "hacking" and its roots. They even had a re-enactment of the FBI nabbing Mitnick.

    Based on looks alone, I don't think I'd want these guys near children.
  • Good luck to you, Woz!

    The man is a brilliant engineer. And at making new technology cost-effective and so commercially realizable.

    Whether that translates into a business windfall? Well, I just hope he's having fun and feeling creative. Technically, good things are bound to come of it.

    I hope the interface (from physical to graphic) is really useful.

    And, if you expect me to read anything significant off of it, I hope the display is decent.

    When are we ever going to fix displays? We've got horsepower enough -- how about something easy on the eyes and with more than a piddly few lines?
  • H2G2? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hast ( 24833 )
    I remember reading in an interview with Douglas Adams that one thing he wanted to do was a PDA+GPS+wireless(possibly) and then use it as a Hitch Hikers Guide to Earth. That was one of the ideas behind the H2G2 project [h2g2.com].

    That idea always appealed to me. It would be very nice to be able to leave small virtual GPS caches around for other people. And to get current information about any place in the world.

    You really wouldn't need all that frequent updates, stopping by at an internet cafe once a week or so would do it easily. (Could be problematic if you're visiting California though. ;-)
  • by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <<gro.ognats> <ta> <todhsals>> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:01PM (#2889023) Homepage Journal
    A few weeks ago, Woz was named to the board [com.com] of Danger, Inc [danger.com], which seems to be a totally separate entity from Wheels of Zeus.

    Since both companies are interested in producing whiz-bang handhelds, isn't him being on the board of one company and having his own, separate company some sort of raging conflict of interest?

    ~Philly
  • People have mentioned mp3 playing in the all-in-one hand held. Add Ogg-Vorbis to that. AND, and recording. If the iPod had a mic/line-in jack and could encode to mp3 or ogg-vorbis on the fly, I'd buy one. How cool would 4000 minutes of record time be? (more for mono-low-bitrate)

    So, of course I'd want this feature in the Uber-PDA too.

  • Woz was the genius behind the Apple ][ - but was he behind the Mac? It's the Mac that really launched Apple, not their old line which weren't any more or less revolutionary than the competition at teh time (ie, the Compaq and IBM PCs, as well as the Pc Jr). Remember folks - Apple computers had command-line interfaces!

    I don't think that Woz will be the Wireless Messiah. There's no guarantee of success, especially since he has spent the past few decades out of the loop.

    IMHO, his name lends his cachet only because of association to Apple, and Apple brings cachet only because of Jobs :)
    • Maybe this is just me, but I don't think there was a lot of competition from the IBM PC in the late 70s :)
    • Woz Created the PC(Apple I), in 1975, Commodore in 1977, IBM got there in 1981 and Compaq circa 1983. Apple was there first, and was the killer box until the PC AT and Amiga came out.

      Personally, I'm hoping the other Steve will give Woz access to the Newton stuff, so he can use it as the basis for his new wunder handheld. The Newton OS is still the best handheld OS out there (Not even PalmOS 4 comes close) and the hardware just needs to be shrunk. A smaller 2100 with GPS and wireless internally would rock. Don't forget the newton had a decent battery life (1 week of regular use on my MP130).

      Hmmmm. Newton+iPod+GPS+Ricochet=Killer App.

      A 2100 with 5Gb HDD, and GPS and Ricochet cards would be a good place for Woz to start.

      The Crazy Finn
    • When the Apple ][ was launched, there was NO competetion at the time. After serveral years of success with the II line, including the very graphical Apple IIgs, Apple made a decision to kill off the II line in favour of the mac. If they'd decided to keep the II line going, then it's quite possible that the descendants would be available today.
  • I seem to remember accidenlty visiting http://www.woz.com not more than a month ago, and to my disappointment it had nothing to do with Steve Wozniak (until I later realized it was supposed to be http://www.woz.org).

    I wonder if he had to purchase that domain from someone, or if it expired, etc.

  • by ceswiedler ( 165311 ) <chris@swiedler.org> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @02:22PM (#2889627)
    My favorite story about Woz:

    He was always a fan of interesting numbers, people who had addresses like 1234 Main Street. For a long time he wanted a phone number with all ten (or at least seven) digits the same, but couldn't get one. Finally when the 888 toll-free area code came out, he was able to get a cell phone with the number (888)888-8888.

    Soon thereafter, he began getting mysterious calls on his new phone. The phone would ring and there would be just silence, or strange (but not particularly rude) noises. These happened several times a day. Eventually, in one of those calls, he heard a woman's voice: "What are you doing with that? Put that down." followed by the other end hanging up.

    He figured out that it was babies who were calling him. If a baby or young child picks up the phone, one of the most likely numbers to dial is the same digit over and over. Kids were picking up the phone and mashing the 8 button constantly.

    I read this in a Wired interview (doesn't seem to be online) which ended with the line, "...the babies of the world were calling the Woz."
    • Not quite ontopic, but it reminded me of this article (in German) [heise.de] on how the number 8 means good luck to Chines and Japanese and that Chinese would pay quite big sums for phone numbers with lots of 8s in them. One guy with a number ending in 88899888 even got kind of famous just because of it. A little Googleing gives me this [silkrc.com], which seems to be the original basis of the first article.
  • You silly people! *Wheels* of Zeus. GPS. Get it?? It's a Segway that drives itself!!! You program in your destination, and hang on for dear life.
    -russ
  • We'll have a PDA/universal remote with awesome floppy controller drivers that can locate pay phones within 30 feet and allow it's user to make free calls by emitting a 2600Hz tone.

Those who can't write, write manuals.

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