Rohit Khare (khare@pest.w3.org)
Tue, 4 Mar 97 19:00:49 -0500

Well, RCFoC is going to save me a LOT of reposting. Excellent stuff, very
well analyzed. Go read it, subscribe now ;-)

The current issue ALSO includes speculation about AC/IP (IP over power lines)
and this precious new release from MS. Which ALSO raises more questions about
household IP...

--> http://www.digital.com/info/rcfoc/970224.htm#Tickle

"_Tickle_-Me Windows?" Or, Convergence of a Different Sort...

Finally, you may not usually think about "curling up with your computer," but
as computers continue to wend their way into more of our everyday things,
that could change. In fact, if Microsoft has its way, your kids will be
curling up with their computer-enhanced plush Barney ($109.95) by September (
_http://www.microsoft.com/corpinfo/animation.htm_ ).

The first of the ActiMates series of computer enhanced toys, this plush
purple one talks, sings, and moves in response to being touched or to changes
in room light, and it's also controlled by a special radio transmitter
($64.95) driven from specially encoded videotapes ($14.95), and from special
PC CD-ROM games ($34.95)!

Barney can provide commentary about what's happening on the screen, ask
related questions, and, I wouldn't be surprised, respond appropriately to
correct or incorrect answers (through touch sensors in its hands and feet.)
And this type of interaction isn't limited to pre-recorded programming --
Microsoft is working with PBS National Datacast to encode the appropriate
programming into the daily "Barney and Friends" TV show.

Of course such an announcement does tend to accumulate its share of "Barney
jokes." But having had a couple of pre-schoolers, I can well imagine that,
once exposed to a fuzzy purple playmate who interacted with them in the
context of their TV shows or games just like a friend (but without, I assume,
stealing their cookies), they might soon come to expect that their other, more
traditional toys, were 'broken." (Think not? A while back my nephew was
presented with a toy typewriter as a birthday present -- he happily examined
it and then promptly burst into tears -- because it didn't have a plug, and
all the typewriters he had ever seen were electric...)

Consider some of the implications of raising the next generation on such
"toys." Their expectations are being set at an incredibly high level. Rather
than being technology-averse, they're literally going to expect it from the
cradle. And as they grow up, as we are wont to do, they'll probably work to
"improve" their toys into the next generation of appliances and business

Well, when I'm a grandfather I may find that I can easily interact with my
"computer" and appliances, buoyed by innovations from this "animated Barney"
generation. And that would be good. But I do hope that they aren't covered by
purple fur...