A year after launching their spec for the Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC), Intel is announcing a new spec based on Linux.

Called a Mobile Internet Device (pic), or MID, the devices will
have screen sizes from 4.5 to six inches with a target audience
described as "consumers and prosumers" rather than mobile professionals.

While [the UMPCs] CPU components -- codenamed Stealey -- will be
dual-core processors clocked at 600-800MHz and capable of running
Windows XP and Vista, Intel plans for the devices to run an embedded
Linux OS but with a mix of open-source and proprietary code in the
final products.

Typical MID uses will be "staying in touch", entertainment,
information and location-based services. Intel’s presentation
specifically cites Google Maps and Web-based "office and enterprise
applications" in the last two categories. Connectivity will be provided
through Wi-Fi and support for wide-area coverage via 3G HSDPA.

MID tablets will run a simplified "finger-friendly" user interface
optimised for the small screens, based on the Gnome desktop but with an
Intel-developed "master user interface" layer to serve as an equivalent
to the desktop.

Screen size and built in wireless capabilities are in line with point of care requirements. The 3G HSPDA mentioned is supported in the US by AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile (and a waste for in-hospital use). This standard is also the most prevalent standard in Europe.

Now all we need is something that is water resistant, can be wiped with harsh disinfectants, and will last a 12 hour shift on one charge. Pictured right is an artist rendering of a device designed to the new specification.

[Hat tip: Engadget]

UPDATE: Here's more on the actual announcement today at Gizmodo.