Freerunner project at Oxford Archeology

Michael Shiloh michael at
Thu May 22 00:05:50 CEST 2008

I'd like to bring to your attention an interesting project built around 
the Freerunner.

Joseph Reeves at Oxford Archeology is developing a unit to be used by 
archaeologists while in the field. Joseph writes:


One of the main attractions of the FreeRunner was that it would fit our 
needs with only a minimal amount of work. I've written on my blog on 
many occasions about what we want to with the FreeRunner; the most 
recent entry probably spells it out better than any of the others:

We will need software developed to allow us to record the data we need 
to record in the field, but we are confident that this can be achieved 
in house. We are lucky that the data we need to record is largely fixed; 
all we need is a suitable interface and the ability to save the data to 
both a location on the phone and (when in mobile overage) a database in 
our datacentre. We have identified SqlSync as a potentially useful piece 
of software in this regard and will be conducting testing soon.

The majority of our efforts have been in developing the package that we 
can provide to other parties, both fellow archaeological contractors and 
a wider business market. We identified two areas that we felt should be 
addressed immediately; the provision of a physical keyboard and a power 
supply option suitable for people working in remote locations for 
extended periods of time. We believe we have found solutions for both:

We have been in discussions with G24 Innovations, a UK company making 
solar panels designed for the developing world. They make an amazingly 
cheap cloth backed panel that we shall be testing next week:,products,40.html

We have sourced keyboards from another UK company, Hela. These are 
rollup rubber keyboards that have been specially produced for us with a 
mini-USB connector. Again, we shall hopefully be testing them next week:

G24 Innovations are also open to the idea of producing a panel for us 
with a built in Y splitter cable so that the FreeRunner, solar panel and 
keyboard can be used at once as a single device.

We have been in talks with Alternative Networks about distributing this 
package with service contracts to a wide range of business users as a 
powerful smartphone. Once we have assembled what we think would be a 
typical package we shall send a complete sample to Alternative Networks 
and move into further discussions. Their website can be found here:

Future updates about our status would therefore likely be centred around 
the progress we're making creating an archaeological/business tool from 
the FreeRunner and the efforts we're making in distributing this tool to 
other businesses and organisations that request it. Technical 
developments we produce are unlikely to be of great interest to the 
wider mobile hacking community (I was very pleased, for example, when I 
cross compiled my first app for the FreeRunner, but I doubt too many 
others would be too impressed) although will be crucial for our plans.

One element we are very keen to develop are the GPS capabilities of the 
FreeRunner to allow an Assisted GPS mode, but do not have the required 
knowledge in house to produce results.

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