New Phone Project (MiniMoko) : Which functionalities ?

Al Johnson openmoko at
Fri Oct 8 22:12:38 CEST 2010

On Wednesday 06 October 2010, Thomas HOCEDEZ wrote:
> Hi,
> As you might have read, Always Innovating (A.I.), is opened to think
> about a collaboration between them and us (Openmoko community)  to build
> a phone based on their MiniBook.
> This device is a MID, without phone capabilities (except VoIP). So the
> idea is to build something together on that basis.
> I don't want AT ALL to shortcut GTA04 project, which is vital for
> everyone, so the main idea would be to improve a bit the MiniBook,
> generating a "lite" version of the GTA04. By "lite", I suggest not to
> overload the bill & motherboard with extra features that GTA04 will bring.
> More, The MiniBook have to stay an A.I. product, this mean, it must be
> linkable to the others as it does today.
> For information, MiniBook has already impressive specs :
>     * TI <> cortex-A8 with 3D and video acceleration
>     * 512MB (RAM) + 256MB (NAND) Memory
>     * Main storage: 8GB microSD card
>     * 480x320 3.5" capacitive touchscreen
>     * 30fps VGA front webcam
>     * Wifi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth class 2.1
>     * Video output HDMI HD
>     * Two high-quality stereo speakers
>     * Internal microphone
>     * Headphone jack
>     * 3-dimensional accelerometer
>     * One 1500 mAh battery
>     * Bi-color silver/black case
>     * 64mm x 106mm x 9.3mm
>     * Secured attachment of the MID into a Touch Book Table
> There's nothing much to improve, nothing to remove, just adding GSM/3G
> chip. Nikolaus Schaller pointed the OPTION GTM501, which is a brilliant
> little chip ! And if we use the same one, the porting of
> distros/software will be easier from one machine to another.
> So, the first question is : What to add for this project being
> interresting ? Those will be minimal functions (forget Wimax, 4G,  coffe
> machines or color printer ...).

GPS - I wouldn't buy without it. It's just too useful for navigation.

3 axis magnetometer - from recent experience it is sometimes very useful to 
know which way you're facing as well as where you are. 3 axis accel, gyro and 
a pressure sensor would be nice but less important.

Daylight readable screen - again from recent experience in a sunny 
environment. A transreflective screen, or one from PixelQi, would be better as 
they would cut down on the power needed for backlighting in bright 
environments. An ambient light sensor would be good to automate the backlight 

Better screen resolution - at least 640x480. It really does make the screen 
more legible, and significantly broadens the number of apps that can be used 
without gui porting.

USB host mode

Standard connectors for USB host/otg/device and charging. These could be in 
place of the mini-HDMI and coax power connectors.

Given what's on the 40 pin connector an option might be to have a dockable 
module that can go either on the end of the MiniBook or inside the SmartBook. 
That would enable everything but the screen changes without changing the 
existing MiniBook design, and seems similar to the DualScreen module in design 

> Second question : Debian is able to run on such a device, but does
> developpers of other distributions can tell if it would be possible to
> port their on it ?

If debian can run on it there should be no problem porting to other distros. 
Similarities to the beagleboard and n900 may mean other distros can already 
work with it.

> Third question : On the basis we have a 'paper' version of the phone, is
> there anyone able to give a hand to AI for the integration of new
> components on the board or do we let AI do the major part of the job ?
> (this way, we only would be 'consultants' for them).

That probably depends on what they decide to do. On the hardware side they 
should be more than capable of implementing anything suggested above. Pick the 
right components and support may already be present either in the mainstream 
kernel or other open drivers. See the FR Navigation Board[1] for some 
examples, and n900 sensor support in the mainstream kernel for others.

> Thanks for your interest.
> Thomas.


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