Wish List - Hardware
This page details hardware features which some would like to go into future phones similar to the Neo1973.
Related pages are:
- Wishlist - Hardware - Novel Devices - openmoko will run on a large number of devices in the future, some of which may be DVD players, cameras, or convergance devices.
- Wishlist:Unlikely - Hardware that is unlikely to appear in any OpenMoko device, due to it being impossible to fabricate with near-term technology, or for other reasons.
- Wishlist:Accessories - Accessories that people would like, that connect easily to the phone - initially primarily for the Neo1973
- Wishlist:Expansion - add-ons to the phone, maybe involving hardware changes, and software and hardware protocols to implement these.
This page is rather long. Before adding a new idea, please read through this page and the above pages, to make sure your idea has not been suggested before.
AT91CAP9S500A (ARM9 + FPGA-port)
Take a look at this microcontroller, that integrates an ARM9 microcontroller and a dedicated FPGA port: AT91CAP9S500A. It has "only" a max. clock at 200MHz, but can use a FPGA for hardware acceleration, that could be used for video (de)compression, aacPlus v2/HE-AAC v2 sound (de)compression and many other things. HE-AAC v2 is better than MP3.
- AT91CAP9S500A Quote: "...The AT91CAP9S500A is built around a 12-layer bus matrix, allowing a maximum internal bandwidth of twelve 32-bit buses. Its distributed DMA architecture enables multiple data transfers to take place between the processor, memories and peripherals with minimal processor overhead...".
- GNU-Based Software Development on AT91SAM Microcontrollers
- Maybe this is a good tool?: BYU JHDL, Open Source FPGA CAD Tools
- 02/05/2007, FPGA tool bottleneck stalls HPC Quote: "...Current FPGA synthesis, placement and routing tools are written for hardware designers, not software programmers simply trying to accelerate an algorithm..."
- http://sourceforge.net/projects/elphel, board 10353, camera hardware, Main page, Imaging solutions with Free software and open hardware
Just another FPGA+microcontroller example:
- The Alya Project (old page)
- PIC assembler source code, Altera FPGA code. Schematic: , , 
- 20 March 2007 Green supercomputer is 'go' in Scotland
This FPGA is just an example:
- Spartan-3AN FPGA Capabilities Quote: "...Simple and secure embedded application storage with up to 11Mb of integrated user Flash...Enable simple arithmetic and math functions as well as advanced DSP functions to derive over 330 Giga MACs/sec...Up to 32 18 x 18 embedded multipliers support 18-bit signed or 17-bit unsigned multiplication, and can be cascaded to support wider bits..."
- XC3S1400AN-4FGG676CES $91
- XC3S200AN-4FTG256CES $25.87
Tool for FPGAs:
- xilinx.com: ISE WebPACK is the industry´s only FREE, fully featured front-to-back FPGA design solution for Linux, Windows XP, and Windows Vista
Wireless data networking
WiMAX is a high-speed data service, similar to wifi, though longer range and newer. Where service is available, this would complement WiFi. Unfortunately, unlike wifi, frequencies vary worldwide, so global usage may be complex.
- Near Field Communication has a few centimeter range, useable for keys, ID badges, pairing bluetooth devices and similar uses. Mentioned in newer bluetooth and SD standards. (No products.)
- ZigBee is designed for connecting sensors and switches in buildings, with many options including mesh networks and aggressive power saving compared to bluetooth. (Almost no products available.)
- The ANT network is for connecting worn devices. Similar to ZigBee, but much simpler and maybe lower power. (Short list of products.)
- A camera that can take reasonable quality video and pictures is something many want. Applications vary from simple snapping, to gesture interfaces, video conferencing, barcode reading, buisness card reading, healthcare, servicing, and more.
- Some people can't take cameras into work - a model without the camera, or some way of removing the camera would be useful.
- See Wishlist:Camera for a more detailed wishlist.
Main article: Spell weaving
See also this page containing a link to a video demonstration.
TouchKo's (now Wacom Company Ltd.) spatial capacitive "touchscreen"
How about a TouchKo's (now Wacom Company Ltd.) spatial capacitive "touchscreen", so you do not grease your display, with your fingers. This also means the device can be operated with gloves.
- touchko.com: Spatial Capacitive: Imagine getting a touch response from your display, without even touching it!, TouchKo Quote: "... June, 2007, Wacom Company Ltd., acquired TouchKo and will add TouchKo's spatial capacitive and resistive touch technology into its components portfolio..."
- Wacom Company Ltd.
I do not know how good or bad it works.
Thought educational example:
- If the Neo1973 detect a finger have pressed the screen, the Neo1973 should vibrate two short times and reply one of these:
- "You can touch my screen, but I also understand close proximity finger sign language.".
- "Do not touch my screen, I understand close proximity finger sign language.".
Hardware acceleration for video playback.
3D hardware acceleration for 3D games, GUIs, etc. (maybe a PowerVR MBX Lite ?).
Or electronic paper display, EPD is used in many new devices such as the new Motorola motofone, sonys new e-reader and Irex's iliad. The technology provides thin, lightweight, power saving screens using new eink technology. This technology could cut the weight of the phone and its power usage. For more info see: eink's website.
Pro: laserprinter like quality, glossy, very stable image, easy on the eyes. Electronics are similar to TFT. Very low power consumption.
Con: Black and grey only (like a newspaper, but glossy), although there were already color prototypes in 2005. low framerate (5fps). Can reflect light (like paper), backlight is impossible.
It would be nice to have (the option of) a transreflective display, which while being less bright, is readable without needing to power the backlight. Then again, it depends on how much power the backlight uses compared to everything else...
"Slightly" Larger Screen
43mm x 57mm (2.8inch diagonal) is tiny. A 53mm x 71mm (3.5 inch diagonal) like on the TD035STEE1 would be a nice improvement. A widescreen format at about 53mm x 82.5mminstead of the 3:4 aspect ratio would be even cooler (if one could be found).
A laser projection keyboard
Similar to this, except the device would be integrated into the phone itself. Setting the Neo up on a stand on a flat surface (perhaps a stand could be built into the back of the Neo itself, or into a case) would turn the Neo into a micro-laptop. There may be several issues with the inclusion of this technology, including patents, the space required to project the laser grids, and the power consumption. If possible, however, it would make text input a breeze.
Just a few more Buttons
2 buttons more, 3 buttons total, mounted sideways would be enough. You could use them for play/pause and loudness controll while the phone remains in your pocket (display locked, ...), reading mails, rss, ebooks,... without wasting display space and so on.
With 5 buttons in total you could possibly emulate a keyboard (2^5 = 32 combinations) for those who know how to play a flute. Useable onehanded, not wasting display space and faster than t9. (It's not faster than T9 - I've used this system with the microwriter agenda --Speedevil 00:00, 2 July 2007 (CEST)) Hopefully this is not patented already.
D-Pad and Buttons
- Adding a D-pad (to the bottom of the phone) and 2 to 4 buttons (to the top) would provide some tactile input controls, in addition to the touchscreen. They could be used as shortcut keys in the menu, or playback control when playing media. When the phone is held sideways, they can be used as games controls. (With touchscreen alone, gameplay options are limited)
Game buttons would be best on both sides of the screen. The larger the buttons, the better. 2x 4 buttons in up-down-left-right configuration + some extra buttons separately a bit lower on the device would be good for many for emulation games.
Here is a concept drawing of a possible neo1973 gaming version:
(This has a 4-way direction pad, 8 way may be better for gaming)
Shoulder buttons would be a great addition, too. It would be interesting if there was a total 4 of them, one for every corner. It would make the phone very flexible for rotating and 2 to 6 players playing on one device.
Thumb keyboard or keyboard attachment accessory
- Could be slide out or clamshell (hinge on long side) design with an external OLED. The keyboard should be protected when not in use.
- Could be a clip on keyboard that attaches to the serial port or communicates by bluetooth (not preferred for permanent keyboard users).
- Cheap clippable miniusb keyboard
- One of the layouts proposed in Hardware:Keyboards
- What about virtual keyboard? [Keyboard]
A trackball would provide an efficient mouse-like interface in a very compact package. As exemplified in the newer Blackberry® models. Maybe instead an optical sensor as are used in mice could be used so that the whole phone can be moved over a surface just like a mouse. (It could function as a Bluetooth mouse for other devices like laptop computers: see Bluetooth_Support#Acting_as_HID_device. Adding one other two-axis analogue input (possibly just the screen) would make the Neo usable as a TrackPoint or scroll-and-tilt mouse.) The same sensor might be usable as a barcode reader.
A joystick, or Rollermouse-like device would provide additional control, compared with touchscreen only.
- A standard pointing stick (ie. TrackPoint) might serve well. As a fairly standard part, might they be quite inexpensive?
Dual analogue controllers (one trackball or joystick above, one below the screen, most likely) might even be feasible. That might be overkill since the accelerometers or touchscreen can be used to provide a second analogue input. But it would be nice to have four axes of analogue control without having to tilt the screen away from you or partly cover it with your hand.
Digital Television, Digital Radio or even normal analogue TV/radio is available widely in the world. Though unfortunately in various different forms. In markets where one standard is widespread, and hardware is suitable, it would be a great extension of the phone to a general entertainment device for when you're away from home. Multi standard devices would be ideal, but may not be small, low-power, or cheap.
This enables the phone to sense which direction 'down' is, and to sense any movements the phone makes.
See Accelerometer Fundamentals for more information on accelerometers as they may be used in phones.
In some cases integrated gyroscopes may also be needed.
- 3D Viewport
- Computer Mouse
- Determine Position
- Dynamic Screen Orientation
- Change media player playlist when jogging vs walking.
- Attempt to use to stabilise any future camera.
This feature is scheduled for inclusion in the phase 2 Neo1973, currently slated for release in October 2007.
Side-Mounted Touch Strip
Add a "touch strip" sensor onto the side of the phone which can be used to scroll. By having it on the side you can use your thumb to scroll comfortably while holding the phone one-handed. An 8-element capacitive sensor would work wonderfully and be easy to fab using either a Quantum QT411 (http://www.qprox.com/products/qslide_qt411.php) or Analog Devices AD7143 (http://www.analog.com/en/prod/0,2877,AD7143,00.html) controller. The Analog Devices chip seems better suited due to it's smaller allowable element size. With the AD7143 you can have an 8-element (128-position) 25mm long strip - Perfect!.
Would it be possible to use the phone as a wiimote ?
Heart Rate Compatibility
An RF interface to receive data from popular heart rate straps (Polar, Garmin, Sigma, Suunto, etc.). This would go along well with the existing GPS functionality and possible future Accelerometer functionality to make for a full-blown workout tool.
Software can be written to track heart rate along a running, cycling, skiing, swimming loop, to monitor max and min heart rate, to match heart rate data to GPS coordinates and print map data w/ relevant data.
A digital compass is useful for orienting maps to the terrain and other location/direction/orientation based applications (... is 300 meter that way) when the user is standing still (regardless of GPS reception) and for following a bearing when GPS reception is poor or speed is low.
An electronic thermometer might become handy for some users.
Barometer and Variometer
A Barometer measures air pressure. This can be used to give weather information, and also as a variometer, to sense relative altitude. Variometers are commonly used in flying microlight and ultralight aircraft, to get accurate relative altitude.
See Wish List - Hardware - Atmospheric for more information.
Finger print sensor
A fingerprint sensor gives easy and fast access to the phone, could lock the touchscreen etc. An example of this device can be found at Sony UX17.
Most fingerprint sensors in the embedded market include a navigation mode, where they work similar to either a touch-stick or touch-pad of a laptop.
- less cpu intensive and more reliable than camera+ocr
- though, bluetooth-enabled readers are already available.
Ability to sense ambient light, and act accordingly. i.e if it's 3am and LightValue<.1 then Ring Quietly.
A navigation wheel like on a sony/ericsson 810i would be nice.
Switch off backlight when you place the phone to your ear. Prevent accidental activation of speakerphone or other sounds when the phone is near the ear (prevent hearing damage). Possibly switch the speakerphone on or off automatically depending on if the phone is by your head or not.
MMC/SD/SDIO slot (rather than?) miniSD or microSD
- Cheaper, more durable cards in a widely accepted format.
- Cards are harder to lose
- Wider selection of accessories, including SDIO accessories.
- Make externally available so that larger length SDIO cards can be used (thinking about SDIO WLAN here)
- SDHC compatible. It seems to already have the right hardware for it - see Neo1973_Hardware#microSD-Card.
Two SD slots
- Micro SD for /home partition.
- Hot swappable mini or normal SD for movie, music etc.
- USB 2.0
- Powered, to avoid having to carry around a hub for when you want to occasionally plug in a memory stick. Many powered hubs will not recognize a totally unpowered host.
- OTG (is this maybe supported already ?)
- Bootable USB device emulation: the possibility to boot any computer on a bootable flagged partition of the transflash.
Wireless USB support
Wireless USB is the wireless version of USB offering data-rates up to 480 Mbit/s over short distances (<3 meter). Chipsets suitable for a phone are likely to take some time to be available.
SIR/FIR transceiver (Serial Infrared) / IR remote control
- An infrared transceiver is cheap, small, and useful for sync with many laptops and mobile phones.
- Replace/emulate all IR-based remote controls used for your tv, vcr, etc on your neo cell phone.
- replaces multiple 'dumb' devices with a single intelligent device (your neo) that you will probably carry with you at all times anyway.
- Command sets should be retrieved from a database or learned from other less intelligent remote control devices with macros.
- reduces clutter, particularly in the living room.
- inceases the neo's practical status as an 'always-have' device.
- Detecting reflections from inside of a caddy, and switching from active mode.
- FIR would be a nice option, as it's some 40 times faster than SIR.
- A blinking LED would be a cheap, low power way to inform the user of new SMS/Email....
- An alternative to this would be for one small part of the LCD to be separately backlit.
- This requires the CPU and LCD to be somewhat active, to keep the LCD refreshed, but gives much more information.
- For example a multicolor LED which pulses yellow for GSM/GPRS transmit, blue for Bluetooth/Wifi, green to indicate non-urgent information - missed call etc, red to indicate battery low or other urgent notices.
- The LED and button ideas could be combined: illuminated buttons.
- It must be possible to completely disable the LED to save power or other personal preferences.
For finding keys, or any other application. May also optionally pulse in time with ring, to make phone more visible. This is really well done in Nokia 5500.
Small FM transmitter to output to car, and other nearby radios.
Here is some summary/discussion of how hearing aid compliance rules work in the US. Specifically it would be nice to see the phone include a telecoil, which allows the phone to connect wirelessly to many standard hearing aids.
Mobile Communication options
Generic Access Network / Unlicensed Mobile Access
This technology requires cooperation from the cellular provider, but UMA/GAN is already offered by T-Mobile in the United States, and perhaps others in other countries. Allowing the user to roam from GSM to wifi, this technology can save the end user a significant amount of money, and also allow the user to deploy coverage where there was none before. There are only a few UMA capable phones currently, but it would be great if this could be made to work on a phase 2 type OpenMoko device.
Faster/better mobile connectivity.
GSM/GPRS is at best slow. Ideally supporting EDGE - which is an evolved form of GPRS. UMTS - which is widespread in Europe, HSDPA (asia) and any other mobile standards would be nice for faster data connectivity and coverage. It is unlikely that all of these will be supported initially, but it is a goal. Until that goal is reached, it is likely that some phones will be brought out for various specific markets - Europe, Asia, US.
CDMA EV-DO support
While multiple SIM support is really arguable, a SIM (GSM) + RIM (CDMA) support would generally be a great feature. EVDO is a 3G standard and it's worth to get supported.
Ability to use multiple SIMs/networks
- External SIM sockets are widely available in China, a dual external socket would be a very good solution.
- Dual SIM card kit - two SIMs are trimmed and combined, software supportwould be needed, and both can't be used at once...
- Some networks support multiple numbers on one SIM. Unfortunately this won't allow split networks.
- A second/dual GSM module would allow full use of both sims at all times.
- As a hack, use another mobile via BT.
- As many as three SIM slots would be genuinely useful, especially for a 3G phone - some 3G data tariffs are only available on data-only SIMs. A user could quite reasonably have one SIM for data, once SIM for his personal voice calls, and a third SIM for his business number.
- Include a PMR/FRS Radio.
- A two-way walkie talkie lets you use the phone to communicate with friends without requiring a GSM connection (crowded networks at festivals, at locations with no GSM coverage).
- Include a DECT/GAP transceiver so you can use your home and/or office PSTN line
See also: Alternate Neo1973 case designs for a list of cases being considered for design/manufacture by the community.
- Replacement backs with additional features ranging from solar power, larger batteries, extra hardware, ...
Space efficient Lanyard
The hole at the bottom of the phone takes a lot of space. A Kensington Security Slot could be used instead.
We need something you can drop from 4 feet in to a puddle of dirty water on construction site. Sunlight readable display. The big ugly pseudo military version.
Make a transparent, see-through casing. Why do we need a closed casing for open hardware and open software? Show the world it is a truly Free/Open source phone.
Replacement fronts with e.g. extra buttons.
- A multi-standard satellite positioning module would be nice eventually, it does not seem to be near-term due to chipset availability problems. Galileo is the to be launched (2011) European positioning system. GLONASS is the already existing Russian one.
X10 RF Remote
Many PC-based media centers are being equipped with an RF (433 MHz) / X10-based remote control. The X10 protocol also facilitates home automation to control lamps, switches, etc. The advantages of using RF for control instead of Infra-red this that it also works when furniture, walls, or doors are blocking the path between RF remote and the equipment or device. Lirc supports X10-based RF remotes (but expects having an USB RF receiver attached to the media center).
RFID tag/RFID Reader
- Implementation/Cooperation with: RFID-Guardian
- An enable-able tag would be of use - for example being able to use the phone to open doors, or cars. Unfortunately, it's moderately hard to do secure programmable tags that are compatible with existing systems, for obvious reasons.
- Work on the weight of the Neo1973 and following devices. At the present time the Neo1973 is just a moderate / normal business or multimedia phone. The ordinary "user" may want something lighter. Take a look at the following table, that's the Neo1973 compared with other common bussiness or multimedia phones.
|Neo1973||iPhone||Sony Ericsson P990i||Nokia E65|
|184 g||135 g||150 g||115 g|
Make it smaller
- To stay within physical matters: Maybe the Neo1973 is also just a normal business/multimedia phone when looking at the size. It would be great the shrink it a bit. Especially the thickness of 18.5 mm could be worked on!
Standard 3.5mm headphone jack
The Neo1973 uses a 4-conductor 2.5mm jack for stereo headphones and a microphone. 2.5mm jacks are the commonest headset format.
Adapters to 2.5mm are of course available, but 3.5mm jacks are much more robust.
There is an emerging convention used in the Nokia N800 and some other devices. A 4-conductor 3.5mm jack that can use a microphone with special headsets, but can also be used with off-the-shelf 3.5mm stereo headphones.
Neglecting space limitations, multiple sockets - 2.5mm and 3.5mm would be nice. Probably not practical in a phone. Other expanded plugs might allow remote controls.
Other uses might be better met using bluetooth, or USB audio.
Include a built in laser pointer. Everything is better with lasers.
Completely free hardware
Consider selling one device with absolutely no non-free components in it, even if that means dropping the GSM support. I believe having one such device available would be good, because then it could be recommended by organizations like the FSF which typically never recommends anything if it has even a little non-free code in it.
Consider economy / inexpensive / less featured edition
Some people want less features, because they do not need them. Leaving out some features either lets the phone get smaller or possibly enhances battery live.
One big suggestion in this area is a b/w lower res display instead of the big color display.
These are consumer units that the Neo1973 can be considered to be in competition with, based on featureset and price point.
Portable Game System Price: $170
Interfaces: Wifi IR USB (terminal device only) Headset (audio out + mic in) Game keys Memory Stick
Accessories: GPS Camera
Multimedia: MP3, MP4, jpg, AAC, ATRAC Multimedia capability is adequate. Controls are not necessarily intuitive, given that it's a gaming unit, and not a media player, though third party and earphone jack media remote control is available. Memory is provided by removable flash (Sony Memory Stick, proprietary) up to 4Gb in size, which is plenty large enough for movies at full resolution. And the screen! My god, it's full of stars! The PSP screen is pretty much the best screen going, both in terms of size and clarity, unless the iPhone has done better. Unlike the iPhone and the Neo1973, no touchscreen. UMD is irrelevant to this discussion.
Networking: TCP/IP over Wifi. Applications include network firmware update, RSS/Podcast downloading and streaming, internet video viewing using Sony's Location Free Base Station (ala Slingbox), VoIP, and a web browser.
Flaws: No keyboard, and no keyboard support, neither infrared nor USB. And the text entry UI relies on, ahem, cellphone styled number keying. Too much Sony propriety.
Personal portable communicator $300
Interfaces: Qwerty keyboard Game style function buttons Wifi USB headset+mic Memory Stick
Multimedia: MP3, MP4, jpg, AAC, ATRAC Network: Skype VOIP, Yahoo, Google, and Skype IM.
Interfaces: Stylus SD Card Wifi Bluetooth Serial port IR Optional keyboard
Features: Multimedia: jpg, mp3, mp4 Network: Wifi, Bluetooth. Wide range of third party TCP/IP apps available