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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Microsoft's making a watch out of *what*?



So, Microsoft is the latest company mentioned in rumors skating around the Internet this week about who's going to jump in the smartwatch game. Big deal. Apple is often mentioned in rumors like these, Sony already has a smartwatch on the market and Kickstarter sweetheart Pebble is marketing limited numbers of theirs through Best Buy these days. There's also something called the MetaWatch — I could go on and on. Point is, smartwatches, and rumors about them, are nothing new these days.

Smartwatches sit on your wrist but — like smartphones — feed you live data about your emails, text messages, phone calls, calendar alerts, etc. I've got a Pebble can give me live distance data during workouts, or distance-to-the-pin GPS data on a golf course (both of which would be far more useful to me, personally, if I didn't exercise indoors and played golf). The nifty trick I taught mine recently was to show me the time, date and weather conditions. Anyway, you get the idea.

So, no big deal, right? These gizmos are already out there on the market and it's not hard to find a rumor about who the next big player is going to be. Who cares if Microsoft is going to build a watch out of transparent aluminum?

Wait, what?

Forget the whole watch thing. These particular rumormongers are the latest to make us aware that there actually is something called "transparent aluminum," and it exists somewhere outside of Star Trek. It's three times stronger than steel, half as heavy and thick as bullet-resistant glass and can stop a round from an antiaircraft gun.

See-through transparent aluminum

Now, obviously this stuff doesn't come cheap. That Independent article I linked to above estimates it costs around $20,000 to make a a square meter of it. But if you've bought computer or electronics parts for, say, a memory upgrade, you might have even seen it — it's currently most often used as static-free wrapping. And physicists speculate that it might be an entirely new state of matter.

How cool is that?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 10:05am]


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