MOTO Development Group’s labs.moto.com has released a video, ‘Android Meets E Ink’, explaining and demonstrating its integration of Google’s Android operating system with a ’Broadsheet’ electronic paper development kit from E Ink.
MOTO Development Group is an 18 year-old consulting firm that develops products and product/service strategies for startups and Fortune 500 companies.
“While the video was compiled to show off MOTO’s expertise in using Google’s Android, the potential of this Android/E Ink combination alone for the DOOH and mobile sectors is interesting,” says Mike Arens, project lead/embedded systems engineer at Moto Development Group.
Google developed Android explicitly to run on cell phones, but it is robust enough to run on other devices. Because Android is open source, and supported by a robust development community, it is a candidate to grow beyond its mobile device roots. MOTO Labs developed a custom USB driver to bring Google’s Android OS to the E Ink development kit.
“Since it was developed to include inherent cellular connectivity, Android provides an excellent starting point to deploy over-the-air updatable OOH billboards,” says Arens.
The E Ink broadsheet development kit is connected to the Beagle Board via USB. E Ink is an electronic paper display technology with a paper-like, high contrast appearance, ultra low-power consumption, and a thin, light form. It is ‘bi-stable’ – meaning it only uses power when it refreshes the screen.
For example, an OOH board would only use power when an advertisement changed; if the same photo stayed on constantly, it would use almost no power.
While that’s the potential, E Ink is still working on both making its product more flexible and bendable, and to allow colour. At the moment it only operates in black-and-white.
However, the advantages of this kind of low-power screen device updated via wireless Internet access could bring this connected technology to wearable computing or other screen uses that demand long-term deployment before recharging.
“A cell phone could stay charged for several weeks – a boon for travelers in areas where recharging would be difficult,” says Arens. “A new world of creative developers can extend the functionality of and write applications for this low-power screen technology.”
MOTO labs are working towards customized solutions that employ not only Android but Ubuntu, Linux, and Adobe AIR platforms for custom Web-connected application development. It is actively extending its multi-touch and gestural interfaces expertise to these platforms. MOTO is also developing prototypes for better remote management of connected devices with a range of approaches from Mac & PC based device management applications to over-the-air wireless firmware and software updates.
Other recent projects by MOTO Development Group include the Livescribe Smart Pen, Microsoft’s Zune family of portable devices, and Pure Digital’s Flip Camera.