Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Neo FreRunner (alias Neo1973 GTA 02)

This is a blog from the Open Nordic conference in Skien Norway 19-20 june 2008.

General stuff

It is a way nice hanset, uses standard USB cables for charging. Wifi, will have two 3 axis axelerometers. Can not feel rotation along top/down axis. Will hav GSM 2.5, no edge no umts, no 3G. About 100kbps. Don´t know why these limitations will be in the handset.

Backing from the supplier

FIC - First Internation Computer. The OpenMoko folks tried to approach Motorola first but they were not interested. FIC works with the community. Intend to get higher profits by selling direct to consumer. FIC produce about 20% of all laptops in the world. Not under their own name (Toshiba is one of the names they sell by).


On the wiki there is a ton of information, including information on how to take the phone apart and put it together ;)

On a pc, there are various kinds of firmware drivers that are not available. On the freerunner, one uses Hayes AT commands to talk to the GSM chip, and NMEA with the GPS chip. For everything else there is a driver available as open source code. There is a free wifi driver available. The sourcecode was made available through the community (the community found a supplier and a(n open source) deal was struck).

There are people hired to write contacts, calendar, application managers, and a lot of other boring stuff. Basic smartphone applications will be available out of the box. Everything else (including updates to the basic applications) will be available as Debian packages.

How will networks exclude phones to run on their networks (Terrence Barr asks). Ole didn´t have a good answer for that, but didn´t think it would be a problem either.

Qtopia was ported on the Neo1973, but will run without changes on the FreeRunner. Seems like Qt will be used for most of the OpenMoko stuff. Can run GTK as well.

Android: rumors. Virtual machine with hooks into the operating system, will be open source, will be free. Facts. Not available yet. If rumors are true, then OpenMoko will run Android.

Developers will run as root initially. Later, sandboxing will probably be introduced.

Some ideas he wish to have implemented:
  1. Location based calendar. Wish to have a calendar that at a certain place triggers an alarm that will remind him to buy toohpaste when he is close to the shop. Perhaps including opening hours.
  2. Get off at a bus stop: Point to a map where you want to go off, but get a reminder a bit before.
  3. GPS friends. Choose who your friends are, get an alarm when they are close.
  4. Find the closest wifi. Find the closest open access point. Put it on a map, give some indication when it was located.
  5. Find the nearest whatever, get the gas prices for the closest gas station.
  6. Detect congestion, speed limit, one way street. Use openstreetmap.org. Guess what is one way streets, etc.
  7. Profiles (automatic or semi-automatic profile detection)
  8. Firewalling. timebased, locationbased, whitelisting. We will probably see spam on phones in a few years, so we need something to stop that.
  9. Dasher input: There is a motion sensor, can be used to input text, tilting in the right direction. Really, really cool (I agree with that statement, if the demo was realistic ;)
  10. Cheap data transfer: Different subscbtions give different ideas. Fre voice,d ata sms, call etc. Advice to telcos: Go flat rate.
Some ideas from people in the room
  • Location based profiles (when at work, use the work profile, when at home use the home profile).
  • Dating service :)
To develop, you go to the wiki, install something (the whole environment), and within a few minutes you will be up and running.

Software patents:
Some ideas are patented. Patents are harmful mostly to small developers. Big ones can exchange patents. Suggests joining www.eff.org, www.ffii.org, www.fsfs.org

For the end user:

It will be like a distribution. Can subscribe to various types of distributions (stable, expeimental, etc).

How much and when:
  • 12 juli 2007 : First wave.
  • Summer 2008 ( production started). USD 400
  • wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/GroupSales -> Lower price, but you have to buy ten at a time (USD 370).

Terrence (Barr) thinks that at once you have an open phone, the carriers will have to use a lot more resources to become a good pipe, because locking customers into a particular (and sometimes quit bad) deck of applications will no lenger be a viable option.


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