Friday, July 31, 2009

Touch Screen search

I'm taking a little time off from my studies (my last final is this week, yeha!) and I've decided to post about my quest for touch screens. Over the years I've picked up a few things like the Palm (III, IIIxe and a IIIc), an HP Jornada (terrible software), a Chumby (again, software), the Nokia 770 (nice) and the Apple iPod (very) nice. I intend to get an iPhone as I've fallen in love with the interface and find the rest of the 'smart' phones annoying (and very tiny). Mostly what I've noted is that these devices fit a specific need very well but all were really too small for anything else. The iPhone's ability to expand the image is nice but the over all viewable display is still pretty small (yet any larger and it probably wouldn't be a good phone).

What I'm currently looking for is something more along the lines of a netbook type screen around 10" in size. I found this a few months ago, the Always Innovating Touch Book. I decided not to sign up for the first run (sometimes it doesn't pay to be the beta customer ;-) ). I did try to see when the units were coming out (beta sign ups, beginning of August). There will be a second run at the end of the 4Q09. I did try to sign up for that one but they want my credit card number. I really don't like the idea of my CC number sitting around for that long. Also I'm a little leery of a company that has lead times of this length. Sounds like a garage operation. I wish them best of luck to them as it sounds like a good product.

So I kept looking and Marc Fluery (OpenRemote.org) says that Mark Spencer (Digium.com) found another company that does touch screen computing called Touch Revolution. The NIMble They produce a touch screen called the NIMble. They've got a nice little 7" unit. This looks interesting, it uses the Android Application Framework, comes is various sizes and has the appropriate network interfaces. Sounds like the perfect HA interface, at least for the sighted. For the legally blind there are other technologies that we're hoping to see soon. Hmm, I wonder if someone is working on an electro-static interface to make a flat surface feel like it has buttons and a raised surface. Now that would be very cool!

Anyway, now for some hardware specs:

NIMble hardware specs
Main processor Minimum 600MHz StrongARM
Memory 128 MB DDR RAM, 512 MB NAND Flash
Expanded storage SD Card Slot
OS Embedded Linux
Middleware Android Application Framework
Screen type TFT LCD
Screen dimensions 4.3", 7", 10" Diagonal (Other custom sizes supported)
Resolution 480 x 272, 800 x 480 and higher
Touch sensor Type Multi-Touch Projective Capacitive Glass Surface
Connectivity 802.11 b/g WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 1.0/2.0, Ethernet
Audio Stereo Speakers, Stereo Headset Jack, Directional Microphone, BluetoothTM 2.0/2.1 + EDR stereo (A2DP) range of 10 meters
Camera 2MP CMOS Camera, 15fps full resolution video, 30fps 1MP video

I'm not sure what to make of the camera, it's probably not a bad thing to have. I'm just not sure I like something with the ability to peek around without my knowledge. I expect that the NIMble is pretty lite on power usage. In addition to a wall mount (using a power supply) I'd also like a table top unit. I'd expect a broswer to be included so I can get information on not just the home but other things too (Dammit, the Yanks lost! How'd the Mets do?).

I'd also like to see a larger touch screen model, 1024x768 or better. My eyes are having a harder time reading things like my WinCe based smart phones. I very much like the iPod touch except that on things that cover something like a page of paper it's swipe right to left, then back, then down then rigth to left. A pain to read anything but the simpliest of documents. It certainly looks like the future of touch computing is going to keep things interesting. It will certainly be nice to have these inexpesive devices available, one sitting on the entertainment room table (the room with my 13" TV wink ), one wall mounted and one in the library (the bathroom) acting like a kindle but without the limitations.

6 Comments:

At 11/25/2009 10:43 PM, Blogger Bud said...

I got my touchbook that I ordered in April the 2nd week in November. It is a very capable device. I also was looking for a cheaper wall mountable touchscreen for home automation. Anyway, just wanted to give you my first impression now that I actually have one in my hands. BTW It also scores all kinds of cool points at work. :D

 
At 11/26/2009 12:20 AM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

I hope to get mine in the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it and maybe putting Android on top (we'll see, I have some more investigating to do yet on that subject).

It may score a few more points where I work too but it's a little hard when there are so many geeks (I work in a research lab). I'm just hoping it's not too far behind the Apple iPhone/iTouch interface. The apps may be problematic but not so much for home automation. :-)

 
At 11/26/2009 12:21 AM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Oh, thanks for the update, I'd still like to hear what you think of it after you've been using it a while.

 
At 7/28/2010 8:22 AM, Blogger Thom said...

Neil:

I'm working on using the DT366's for my front end with Misterhouse.

I think I can get festival on them to play the sound events, and so far since my HA is small, I plan to just use the web interface with the touch screen.

I'll keep you posted. I'm having an issue with the wireless that is in my starter unit, but once I get that working I should be pretty close to going.

 
At 7/28/2010 12:00 PM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Thom, those device look expensive (when seen from a retail perspective). Are these old and being discounted?

I'd like to hear more about what your doing. The Always Innovative TouchBook has been a little disappointing. The screen is not that responsive with Linux. I'm hoping a build of Android might help. We'll see.

 
At 7/28/2010 12:14 PM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Rats! Can't edit once you've posted. I hit the wrong button, I needed to edit that last message.

Anyways, I picked up a nice Android base phone, the Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S). The Wifi works great and the screen is easy to read even in direct sunlight. So I'll see where this goes.

 

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