Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Android Google Hardware Hacking Open Source Build Hardware

Why Google Choosing Arduino Matters 118

Posted by timothy
from the every-vending-machine-everywhere-please dept.
ptorrone writes "Earlier this week at Google I/O, Google announced the Android Open Accessory kit which uses the open source hardware platform, Arduino. MAKE magazine has an in-depth article about why Google choosing the Arduino matters, why Google picked Arduino and some predictions about what's next for Apple's 'Made for iPod' as well and what Microsoft/Nokia/Skype should do to keep up."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Google Choosing Arduino Matters

Comments Filter:
  • by errandum (2014454) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @06:31PM (#36113554)

    It already existed (an android-arduino "interface"). It only matters because google is behind it now (with an official API), but whoever wanted to do stuff before already could.

    • by samkass (174571)

      And besides, there are billions of iPod docking ports out there, so this isn't really going to affect those device manufacturers much anytime soon.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        Except if someone comes up with a nice "ipod to android" converter. Still, part of the appeal of the ipod docks is that Apple have kept the shape of the products more or less the same. This allows just about any generation to fit into the docks.

        • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamc@gm a i l .com> on Thursday May 12, 2011 @09:39PM (#36114662) Journal

          Personal anecdote: while the docks fit, the ports are not (fully) backwards compatible.

          My IPhone 3GS (~2-years old) refuses to charge from an audio base station bought for my previous-generation IPod (~ 4 years old) -- placing it in the dock pops up an error on the phone that says "Charging is not supported for this accessory"

          • by profplump (309017)

            Yeah, the older devices require 12V (FireWire) charging. New ones require 5V (USB) charging. There was also a change from FW-only to FW-or-USB to USB-only for data, but that had better overlap -- the power requirements just switched overnight.

            • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

              No, that isn't it. FireWire charging has been out for years with the lineup. Our portable speakers charge everything but the newest nano just fine. (In airplane mode for the iPhones of course.)

          • by Shompol (1690084)
            I heard that Apple builds in an "unlicensed charger protector", which blocks you from using third party chargers (except those manufactured by Apple partners, naturally). Chargers are a big business for mobile manufacturers: incompatibility allows them to charge $30+ for something that would normally cost $5, not to mention having to buy a new set of chargers every time you change your device.
            • by RockDoctor (15477)
              Not any more in Europe - coming soon (possibly already here, it's several years since I changed phones and I only pay detailed attention to these things when I'm needing a new phone) is a requirement that all mobiles should be able to accept charge from a mini-USB cable.

              I know there has been much screaming from the manufacturers - for exactly the reasons you suggest - but frankly, who gives a shit about them?

              Actually, I suppose I should find out the status, I may be within a couple of years of getting a n

        • by prockcore (543967)

          Except that Apple is definitely looking to change the port with the iPhone 5.

      • by alostpacket (1972110) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @08:57PM (#36114468) Homepage
        AFAIK you need to have the accessory approved by Apple to connect via the docking port and there is a NDA/Licensing agreement that requires you pay Apple a certain amount for each accessory sold. You also have to purchase a chip from them to integrate your hardware. And they require you to submit your financial records/bookeping so that their auditors can be sure you are paying them the fee for every unit of your hardware you sell. This doesnt seem to apply to all accessories, but it does seem to be a real problem for a lot of them. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/news/4272628 [popularmechanics.com] Also, if you dont, Apple will sue you: http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/04/apple-gets-go-ahead-to-move-against-unauthorized-accessor-makers.ars [arstechnica.com]

        So, yeah, this could have real impact. Going out and grabbing an Arduino board vs all that draconian stuff is gonna be interesting.

        Obviously I have a bias here being an Android app dev, but I believe the two approaches to accessory development are vastly different. And just because Apple has a huge lead out of the gate does not mean they will retain it.
        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by node 3 (115640)

          Draconian? Yawn...

          Businesses who make money selling Apple connectors have to pay money to Apple. It's not onerous, it's business. Every single iPod, iPhone, iPad owner needs at least one dock connector. Only a very small fraction of Android users will even know about this Arduino kit. So as a business decision, it's silly not to pay a small bit to gain access to such a lucrative market.

          Those that can't get their products to sell enough to be worth the cost of entry aren't going to be missed, pretty much be

          • by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic.gmail@com> on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:20PM (#36115080)

            If we compare this to the car industry (as it used to be before it got all digified as well), there is/was a big industry making aftermarket parts - everything from brake shoes and taillights to radios. AFAIK nobody ever got sued by Ford for making a Ford-compatible steering wheel. I think the car makers basically felt that the accessory market (i.e. 'bells and whistles') helped their market. They were never particularly thrilled about aftermarket replacement parts, but they didn't stop it. Folks had, and still have, the choice to go to the dealer or go to NAPA - or JC Whitney. And sometimes it's better going to the dealer. Of course, while it's under warranty some things still have to be done by the dealer - but in most states the car makers can not disallow the warranty under if you get your oil change done by someone else.

            Of course, that's changing nowadays. Here in MA, Toyota successfully fought off an attempt to pass a state law requiring car makers to release the computer repair codes to third party repair shops, so they could hook up their expensive diagnostic machines and find what was wrong. (I don't recall if this was a legislative thing or a court thing.)

            While I agree that Apple may have the right to charge a toll for everyone crossing their bridge, I disagree that it's a good idea. Case in point was the recent article on /. about the demise of independent music because of Apple's 30% rake off the top. Another case in point - I haven't bought an Apple product since 1996, so that's about $30,000 worth of business they haven't gotten. I published software for the NeXT, and had Macs through the early 1990s, but I don't want to be locked into either them or MS. I want the on-ramps to the highway to allow ALL traffic that fits the lanes - I don't want separate ramps for MS, Apple, Google or whatnot.

            • by node 3 (115640)

              While I agree that Apple may have the right to charge a toll for everyone crossing their bridge, I disagree that it's a good idea. Case in point was the recent article on /. about the demise of independent music because of Apple's 30% rake off the top. Another case in point - I haven't bought an Apple product since 1996, so that's about $30,000 worth of business they haven't gotten. I published software for the NeXT, and had Macs through the early 1990s, but I don't want to be locked into either them or MS. I want the on-ramps to the highway to allow ALL traffic that fits the lanes - I don't want separate ramps for MS, Apple, Google or whatnot.

              Somehow I think Apple has gotten by without your $30k. Their "restrictions" are mostly invisible or reasonable. If they weren't, people wouldn't be voluntarily buying Apple products. So while you might think the way they act is bad, most people don't.

              And the idea that buying a Mac "locks" you into them is as bit of a stretch. Apple uses open standards for just about everything, and it's very simple to export from everything they make.

              I use Macs (as you might have guessed), and I have absolutely no fear that

              • I will tell you what I miss - back in the day I used MacProject. Today I have been unable to find a product, open source or commercial, that does everything as well as MacProject did.

              • Apple uses open standards for just about everything,

                really? not only do they have their own standards, but if you dare to try and get involved they will slap you down. here's just two examples
                facetime - where's the published specs for 3rd party integration?
                itunes - where's the usb sync specs? hence no linux client, and Palm (now HP) faced a moving target trying to emulate a iDevice
            • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:20AM (#36116730) Homepage Journal

              The situation as I understand it, not being a lawyer but having done a fair amount of research on the subject, is that you may freely reproduce the part so long as it is covered by neither copyright nor patent and you don't reproduce any trademarks normally on the product, so you may have to do more than a simple mold and cast job even to just make a simple cast part.

              In practice a whole car is covered by a design copyright but not a single fender. You can sell all the bodywork at once but not a complete car wearing all of it. And even that is OK if you buy the bodywork from the actual manufacturer. Buying aftermarket bodywork and selling a car that looked just like another car might land you in court, but I don't know that it's ever been fully played out. For example the GT40 is being made in the original [body] design by multiple manufacturers.

              The situation vis-a-vis secret codes is that there are standard and non-standard codes, the standard codes are mandated in the specification but access to the non-standard codes is not. Further, IIRC only the powertrain codes must be implemented so body codes could just be undelivered unless you send a special command. This has led to a whole bunch of OBD-II snooping.

              Finally, the automaker (or anyone else) cannot deny you warranty protection for a replacement part unless they can show that the replacement fails to meet specifications. In the specific case of oil the oil is graded so you only need to buy a lube of the proper grade. In any other case they're going to have to provide specifications in court to prove that your part fails them.

              • What I'm afraid of is that the car manufacturers (and the blender manufacturers, etc.) will take a leaf from the ink jet printer makers' manual, start embedding chips in everything from engine parts to door panels to who-knows-what, and set up the cars' computers to not start if the embedded chips don't agree - then assert a copyright violation if aftermarket makers try to duplicate the logic. IIRC Lexmark's attempt to assert copyright this way got squashed in court - I hope so. In the past, the real situ

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  Login captcha: control

                  In fact that was the justification used to oppose the MA law I mentioned - the car makers were "concerned that non-certified third party mechanics might not keep the car within official pollution standards". Of course that's mostly hogwash.

                  Certainly the need for the full set of OBD-II codes is broader than aftermarket tuning, but I do agree that most aftermarket tuning will cause vehicles to fail emissions testing, as most of the time they are chasing peak power and not efficiency. I have mechanical diesels, so I'm not subject to emissions testing even though I live in California. The newer of them was built in 1992.

                  • True and I agree about performance tuning, but the complaint in MA was that legitimate mechanics were being shut out of the repair business by Toyota's (in particular) refusal to release codes essential to normal repair and maintenance. Toyota and other companies were simply using this argument to protect dealer monopolies - or so I understand. I confess I didn't pay much attention, as I don't tend to buy cars under ten years old - and the diesel in my boat is from the 1960s! :D

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            "Businesses who make money selling Apple connectors have to pay money to Apple. It's not onerous, it's business. "

            The key point you are ignoring is that under Apple's system, Apple holds *all* the cards. If you invest millions of dollars developing a new innovative accessory and they think it is a threat to them, or if they decide they'd rather sell it under their brand, then they will shut you down and you have no recourse thanks to the agreements you have signed. Yes this is "just business", but that do

            • by node 3 (115640)

              "Businesses who make money selling Apple connectors have to pay money to Apple. It's not onerous, it's business. "

              The key point you are ignoring is that under Apple's system, Apple holds *all* the cards.

              How am I ignoring that? That's the very foundation of my point. It's Apple's system. If you want to play with them, you abide by their rules. It's in Apple's interest that their rules don't drive away third party manufacturers, while simultaneously making sure third party manufacturers don't piss in Apple's pool. That's why Made for iPod exists. It's not a profit center, it's mainly a way to make sure MFI products work well.

              If you invest millions of dollars developing a new innovative accessory and they think it is a threat to them, or if they decide they'd rather sell it under their brand, then they will shut you down and you have no recourse thanks to the agreements you have signed.

              Wow, that's pretty scary! I suppose you can cite an example of this happening, right

              • by LBU.Zorro (585180)

                How am I ignoring that? That's the very foundation of my point. It's Apple's system. If you want to play with them, you abide by their rules. It's in Apple's interest that their rules don't drive away third party manufacturers, while simultaneously making sure third party manufacturers don't piss in Apple's pool. That's why Made for iPod exists. It's not a profit center, it's mainly a way to make sure MFI products work well.

                You're making an assumption that isn't actually true, or at least isn't completely true. It is in Apple's interests to keep some third party manufacturers, but as with the Apple AppStore itself it isn't in Apple's interest to keep all of them - it certainly isn't in their interest to keep anyone who competes too closely with their own branded and thusly profitable peripherals. You are correct, MFI isn't a profit center for them, however the iPod, iPhone and all iDevices that use the connector and play with

                • by node 3 (115640)

                  You're making an assumption that isn't actually true, or at least isn't completely true. It is in Apple's interests to keep some third party manufacturers, but as with the Apple AppStore itself it isn't in Apple's interest to keep all of them - it certainly isn't in their interest to keep anyone who competes too closely with their own branded and thusly profitable peripherals.

                  Apple never denies apps or peripherals because they compete with Apple peripherals or apps. Never. The thing you are thinking of is when they don't approve apps that duplicate inherent iPhone/iPod touch functionality. That *can't* fit your idea that this is because it competes with their "own branded and thusly profitable peripherals" (or apps, I assume) (how do they lose a sale on something that is already part of the product?). This is easily explained by Apple's official reason: to keep the core experien

                  • by LBU.Zorro (585180)

                    Apple never denies apps or peripherals because they compete with Apple peripherals or apps. Never. The thing you are thinking of is when they don't approve apps that duplicate inherent iPhone/iPod touch functionality. That *can't* fit your idea that this is because it competes with their "own branded and thusly profitable peripherals" (or apps, I assume) (how do they lose a sale on something that is already part of the product?). This is easily explained by Apple's official reason: to keep the core experience intact.

                    iMovie, GarageBand, Texas Hold'em... These apps *all* have competition on the App Store. Docks, cables, headphones, smart covers, cases... These *all* have competitors in Made For iPod.

                    Your assertion is completely baseless.

                    What? I appreciate that you're coming from the Apple is amazing point of view, but seriously?

                    http://uneasysilence.com/archive/2008/09/13445/ [uneasysilence.com] - PodCasting app denied because Apple wants to keep the iTunes monopoly. Not because it duplicates anything on the phone, but because it duplicates functionality on the desktop.

                    http://androidencyclopedia.com/android-magazine-denied-on-apple-app-store/ [androidencyclopedia.com] - Android mag app denied on the AppStore - well because it's about Android. To me it's a pretty weak argument that you'

          • Well, perhaps the draconian characterization was a bit inflamatory, but I don't find your "it's just business" arguments in the least bit compelling either.

            Apple's use of a proprietary, non-standard, and patented connector appears from my perspective (admittedly I am not hardware expert) to be a bit of rent seeking. USB and FireWire have been around a long time and Apple has, since the introduction of it's MFi program, attempted to add the restrictions to headphones. Would you think it OK for them to
            • by node 3 (115640)

              Well, perhaps the draconian characterization was a bit inflamatory, but I don't find your "it's just business" arguments in the least bit compelling either.

              Apple's use of a proprietary, non-standard, and patented connector appears from my perspective (admittedly I am not hardware expert) to be a bit of rent seeking.

              The dock connector itself was brilliant. It allowed Apple to have one connector that has been able to keep up with every update these devices have gone through. Instead of FireWire, USB, line-out, digital out, HDMI, composite, component, etc., etc., one connector has been able to serve all these needs, many of which weren't even expected.

              As far as "rent seeking", the MFI isn't directly profit-motivated, but instead to make sure that products made for the iPod work well.

              USB and FireWire have been around a long time and Apple has, since the introduction of it's MFi program, attempted to add the restrictions to headphones. Would you think it OK for them to charge a tithe for using the 3.5" heaphone jack? (They don't unless you want to use the MFi logo currently, but you get my point)

              No, I don't get your point. Are you tr

              • Why are you so adamantly defending a business model that results in nothing other than an across the board 10% price increase? It may work, as you have explained, but it’s definitely not a “good” thing for anyone other than Apple (or Sony, or Nintendo, or any other company just looking to add profit through licensing fees). I know I’m not the only one who would prefer 10% better speakers instead of paying the Apple tax.
                • by node 3 (115640)

                  First off, it doesn't result in a 10% across the board price increase.

                  Second off, I'm defending the notion of exchanging money for things that are worth it. Whatever any actual price increase happens to be, people appear overwhelmingly willing to pay it.

                  As for who benefits, the user benefits in being able to buy devices that just work, which is the primary motivation behind the Made For iPod program.

                  • "The prices are raised across the board. That 10% doesn't cut into their profit margin any more than some other fixed cost does. You just raise your price by 10%, like everyone else."

                    Are you retracting that statement?

                    I think we all understand the basics of how commerce works. Poeple will pay for the products and services they want and think are worth the money. But adding a 10% tax to device manufacturers that ultimately gets directly passed on to the consumer is not benfiting the consumer. The iPod
                    • by node 3 (115640)

                      "The prices are raised across the board. That 10% doesn't cut into their profit margin any more than some other fixed cost does. You just raise your price by 10%, like everyone else."

                      Are you retracting that statement?

                      No, because the next paragraph starts with:

                      "And like you said, this is no longer the case."

                      In other words, the prices *aren't* raised 10% across the board.

                      I think we all understand the basics of how commerce works. Poeple will pay for the products and services they want and think are worth the money. But adding a 10% tax to device manufacturers that ultimately gets directly passed on to the consumer is not benfiting the consumer. The iPod has a spec sheet developers build against. Unless you are saying that spec sheet would not exist without the Made For iPod program (unlikely since the devices would not be as popular without all the accessories), then how is adding 10% to the cost benefiting anyone except Apple? Do you really think the devices would work differently without the Made For iPod program?

                      They aren't adding 10%.

                      Anyway, they do this so that they can control the spec. This also enforces a compatibility list, so consumers know for sure whether the part will work with their particular iPod, and keeps third parties from deviating from the standard, either deliberately or accidentally.

                      It's not uncommon for standards to have licenses. Fir

                    • Ok, so it's not 10% anymore. My point was, you seemed to be defending it even when it was 10%.

                      I'm not saying there are no costs involved in maintaining a spec. Someone has to produce the logos, print the stickers, update the whitepapers, certify devices, etc. And it's not uncommon for organizations to charge yearly administrative fees to cover those costs.

                      But when those fees become percentages or fixed dollar amounts per device sold, it's no longer about controlling the spec. It's about profiting o
              • Well you seem to be missing my point, not sure if I wasn't being clear or what. I didn't deny it's profitable, I posted that you were correct on that part of what you were saying, but you seem to be upset about it anyways? Anyways, I'm not here to argue which is better, Android or iOS, that seems a huge waste of your, and my time.

                But I am confused how can you really think that Android is no threat to the iPhone when it just surpased iOS in US market share. It hasn't caused the iPhone to fail overnight
                • by node 3 (115640)

                  Anyways...My two main points are this: 1) Apple's proprietary connector *seems* like fake invention in order to extract license fees.

                  It's not. It exists for three main reasons:

                  1. It's thinner and sturdier than USB.
                  2. It's extensible, and wholly controlled by Apple, so they can extend it however they want.
                  3. It creates a network effect where devices made for the dock connector work best with Apple devices.

                  Any revenue from licensing fees is minimal, and clearly meant to be used to ensure products work properly.

                  2) On the other hand, Google's open-API approach (in this instance) vastly contrasts the business style of Apple, and could make for very interesting market competition in the years to come. If you really think this will have no effect, see above point about how much the G1 and Android were a total joke compared to the iPhone in 2008.

                  The business model has absolutely nothing to do with the dock connecter, because if you have an iPhone or an iPod, etc., YOU CAN'T

          • by makomk (752139)

            It's not just the money. For example, Apple requires a special authentication chip to be integrated into gadgets (though not headsets, keyboards etc.) that want to talk to the iPhone over Bluetooth, or it won't let them connect. This means that if you already have an existing Bluetooth-based widget, you can't release an iPhone app to talk to it, even if you can upgrade the firmware on your widget. You have to sign an NDA and contract with Apple, design a new version of the widget (with custom firmware for t

          • The situation with Apple requiring a special chip be purchased and then paying them a fee for each product sold vs the Android open access and anyone can build an accessory to sell reminds me of the early Apple vz IBM days. Apple made all the hardware and software while there were many IBM clones. Due to the more open nature of the connectors and operating systems that run on each PC, the IBM version won out in the end. Apple products have always been praised for being well build and easy to use. I stayed a

            • by node 3 (115640)

              The PC didn't win out because it was more open, it won out because it better suited the needs of computer users of the time, who were primarily business users and home users that wanted the same thing at home as they had at work.

              Why would anyone other than enthusiasts care how "open" it is? What people care about is "does it work, and can I use it?"

        • by hitmark (640295)

          Heh, i think they made a jab at that from the GoogleIO stage.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @06:32PM (#36113562) Homepage

    A friend recently made a "magnetic core memory" extension board for an Arduino:

    http://www.corememoryshield.com/report.html [corememoryshield.com]

    Just an example (with pictures) of what can be done with these things. (Magnetic core memory was the main form of non-volatile memory for computers from the 50s through to the 70s.)

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @06:43PM (#36113654)

      Magnetic core memory was the main form of non-volatile memory for computers from the 50s through to the 70s

      It was also the most commonly used form of RAM; I have an old Fortran textbook that says something to the effect of, "Semiconductor memory will probably become popular over the next decade." It is also the reason we still speak of "core dumps."

      • by Lifyre (960576)

        Honestly this seems like something that would still have a place in modern applications that require very high reliability. I know it's horribly slow compared to what we have today but I wonder if it could have ever been fast enough to be useful in a modern system. Say for safety systems on reactors, in flight, and some labs...

        Sometimes flights of fancy are just that though.

        • by MattskEE (925706)

          With modern chip fabrication techniques they could potentially integrate a ferromagnetic material deposition into a stand chip process, and then possibly they could achieve densities and speeds of storage that are relevant in today's world.

          But at the end of the day the target to beat is always silicon. Even if each bit of silicon non-volatile memory is less reliable, they can integrate vast numbers of bits in a given die area, and thus they have enough storage space that they can throw tons of error correc

          • by makomk (752139)

            As the AC said, there's something called FeRAM that basically does that. It uses the ferroelectric effect rather than ferromagnetism, and the physical structure is more similar to DRAM than to core memory, but it has pretty much the same properties. (In particular, it's non-volatile and writes erase the data for the same reason that they did in core memory.)

          • It's basically old-school flash, with the benefits that it doesn't stop working after awhile and it's radiation-hard. It's also a lot slower than flash (possibly slower than a modern HDD, I don't recall the r/w timing), so I doubt we'll see it resurgent. I also believe it was hand-assembled up to the end, because there was no way to reliably automate the intricate threading process.

        • It's also very large, and very expensive. Being a silverback, I remember when the cost dropped below 1 cent per bit - that's $10,000 per megabit! I think it was about 1975. And IIRC the highest density 1024-byte core card at that time was about eight inches on a side. I think they were all still hand-assembled at least until then.

          Ahh, Here's better data (a bit later) [wikipedia.org]:

          In 1980, the price of a 16 kW (kiloword, equivalent to 32kB) core memory board that fitted into a DEC Q-bus computer was around US$3,000. At that time, core array and supporting electronics fit on a single printed circuit board about 25 x 20 cm in size, the core array was mounted a few mm above the PCB and was protected with a metal or plastic plate.

          These days it might be possible to use chip-making techniques or 3D printing to 'print' very tiny core memory units, building up the condu

    • by jamesh (87723)

      "Core memory would probably have been a lot less popular had it been a write-only technology" :)

    • Magnetic core memory was the main form of non-volatile memory for computers from the 50s through to the 70s.

      I was working with a system using magnetic core in 1991. IIRC there was 64000 30-bit words internal to the CPU crate and 2 external units of 256000 30-bit words. The system was phased out during 90s.

      • by nsaspook (20301)

        was working with a system using magnetic core in 1991. IIRC there was 64000 30-bit words internal to the CPU crate and 2 external units of 256000 30-bit words. The system was phased out during 90s.

        UYK series?

        • AQS-901. Airborne, real-time acoustic processing. For added flavour we patched binaries on-tape with paper tape patch reels.
          • by nsaspook (20301)

            We mainly used UYK-20s with old UYK-7s for fire-control. Those babies could take abuse. We ran ours with battle-short switches enabled because in the comm shack it would get so hot the ECL chips on the CPU boards would give errors and halt unless you set it to run until the machine melted.

            http://www.kh6bb.org/photos1.html [kh6bb.org]
            Yea, we used tape readers for program loading, mainly mylar but as you said some patch tapes were paper.

            • Overheating wasn't a problem for these systems. The aircraft cabin was kept a chilly 15 Celsius (60F, approx) to keep the electronics happy... not so good for the crew though. The magnetic core memory was a godsend when the aircraft power glitched. You could restart the software, state largely intact, without having to reload from tape.

    • by xded (1046894)

      Nice learning project!

      However ferromagnetism is not for learning only. Check stuff over at TI for FRAM powered uCs [ti.com] and their advantages.

      The standardization brought by Arduino both in hardware and software tools is good, but people should understand that a '90s Atmel microcontroller isn't all what's out there...

      • a '90s Atmel microcontroller isn't all what's out there...

        Indeed. I just bought a TI Launchpad [ti.com] for US$4.30 (with free shipping!). It's a complete development board for the MSP430 MCU, and you can download a free IDE (not open-source, but you can use mspgcc too). Nowhere near the third-party support the Arduino has, but it's a capable little chip and only costs a (US) quarter in quantity.

    • by xded (1046894)

      Nice learning project!

      However ferromagnetism is not for learning only. Check over at TI for FRAM powered uCs [ti.com] and their advantages.

      The standardization brought in hardware and software tools by Arduino is good, but people should understand that a '90s Atmel microcontroller isn't everything that's out there...

  • by Zerth (26112) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @06:36PM (#36113594)

    Why are they charging nearly $400 for something that you can buy separately for $200?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why not?

      I'll sell it to you for $800.

    • by errandum (2014454)

      200$? An arduino costs 20-30$ O_o.

      • Apparently the Arduino-based Google Android tool costs a lot more than just an Arduino (or than an Arduino plus a couple of USB shields.) It's an open design you can build yourself, but they're not selling the hardware cheap.

    • by Jason Earl (1894)

      Probably because Google doesn't want to get into the Arduino hardware business, but they do want to make getting the proper board as easy as possible. If price is not an issue you can get precisely the right board from directly from Google. If you are on a budget, you can do a bit of research and save yourself some money. Everyone wins.

  • Arduino is great, I've got my own, but it seems like the choice you'd make if you were pursuing hobbyists instead of commercial device manufacturers. Am I wrong?

    • by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @07:30PM (#36113996) Homepage

      Well, you can use the same chip (ATmega2560) for any commercial application, so you can use the Arduino for prototyping and then reuse the code for the final product.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I seriously don't understand the Arduino obsession that so many people have. It's just another chip, it's not any more special than others out there, it's not cheaper, or faster, or easier to use. I mean it's just an AVR with some pre-attached IO modules. The only difference I can see between Arduino and any other ATmega based eval board is that it comes with some dumbed down programming environment for people who don't want to use C/assembler.

      • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:03PM (#36114744)

        I'm not Bad Analogy Guy so I'll be a bit more literal: The point of Arduino is precisely that dumbed down programming environment, it brings the concept of basically making something computerised (to a point) to an a MUCH larger group of people than before. Right now there are tons of people out there doing things with these chips, making all kinds of little hacks and projects, that would ordinarily have thought "Hey what if I could do X? Oh, too complicated, what a damn shame" and are instead thinking "An arduino could probably do that".

        Now for anyone that really does know coding and how to work chips and whatnot giving them an Arduino and making them use it "normally" is like giving them Duplos, but it's still Strictly Better for everyone to have these kinds of easily accessible solutions around for all the people that DON'T know that kind of thing. Sure a lot of them basically just sit there in easy-mode and never go any deeper but others will learn more in time, and just having it THERE makes the concept that much more ubiquitous.

        • by aXis100 (690904) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @11:57PM (#36115222)

          I agree 100%. Arduino is like the legos of microcontrollers. I've used many plain Atmel microcontrollers before and there was a steeper learning curve, whereas Arduino has been very quick, cheap and FUN!

          There is also the benefit of reasonably standard IO wiring, so that when the community shares projects they are dealing with common hardware layouts.

      • by hot soldering iron (800102) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @10:37PM (#36114882)

        You just answered your own question, and you still don't understand?
        "it comes with some dumbed down programming environment for people who don't want to use C/assembler."

        Bingo!

        How many people do you know that were taught assembler in school? I was taught because I was in an industrial electronics program, emphasis on industrial manufacturing and maintenance. I think they quit teaching assembler to CS students in the mid '80s, and quit teaching C soon after, shifting to C++/Java. How many people do you think were programming PCs when you had to flip switches, as compared to just typing it in and hitting enter?

        CLUE: Make something convenient to use, and people will use it. Make it necessary, but inconvenient, and people won't. Are you sure you're smart enough to be allowed here?

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          This makes it good for learning how stuff works, doing a quick on-off hack, etc. But this article seems to imply they want to make production hardware from it. And for production hardware you'd want to be a bit more robust...

          • by idontgno (624372)

            Well, that's the difference between a lab prototype and a production model, innit? Unless you're one of those people who (A) don't believe in prototyping, or (B) think you can stick a case on your prototype, box it up, and sell it as the production model.

            And frankly, this does feel like a hobbyist toolset, but a lot of very influential system designs started out as some hobbyist's garage project.

        • There's a course in assembly that's required for all Software Engineer and Computer Science--Computer Technology majors at my university right now. They're offering the course this semester, in fact.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Furthermore, if I want to work in assembler I have to think a lot more about what the processor is doing. This is less true on non-x86 architectures since you don't have to stuff particular data into particular registers so much but it's still an issue. Arduino lets you use C which is good enough for most purposes since today we can afford to use hardware inefficiently. If you consider that an Arduino around a buck runs 8MHz then you can see how true that is.

      • by Builder (103701)

        Rapid prototyping.

        You can build something and take it to a VC without ever needing to solder a connection.

  • The AtMega (the actual CPU) is too weak to use enough data to load down the cellular network. You couldn't, for example, decompress video with it. So people aren't going to build accessories which let you watch TV over your Android connection.

    There's nothing wrong with those parts, but they're for tiny programs.

    • by maxume (22995)

      Don't most Android phones have the bits needed to watch TV over the network connection built right in?

    • by hitmark (640295)

      Depends. It could be that the part will basically be used to repackage data so that a on-phone app can deal with it.

      Consider their demonstrated use case of a exercise bike feeding activity data to a phone app that then use that as input for a game.

  • Not *just* Arduino (Score:5, Informative)

    by brian.swetland (1739666) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @08:39PM (#36114386)

    Keep in mind that the *any* device that supports USB Host mode can be an Accessory. There's a full open source reference implementation for Arduino, but the protocols are documented and open and you can implement it on any hardware you like.

    Docs and Specs: http://accessories.android.com/ [android.com]

    Google IO Talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7szcpXf2rE [youtube.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    For blog cred
  • that they say: from android 3.0 on devices are expected to have usb host functionality to get access to the app store and must mandatory implement usb standard protocols to talk to hardware.

    advantages:

    -standards hubs exist

    -Mass storage could be attached

    -HID devices could be uses AND the specialized HID devices designed for the use with Android devices could be used with other devices

    -Testing of the device could happen easily on your personal computer

    -Availability of hundreds of ultra-cheap reference impleme

  • It's a nice idea, but only supporting a usb connection? I've already used an Arduino with a bluetooth module to communicate with my android phone over a BT serial connection, worked rather well.

  • Just posted here: http://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/browse_thread/thread/8d32987e3767c868# [google.com]

    So, is this going to make an Android phone an important part of a lot of open source hardware projects (including RepRap perhaps)?

    Note also:
        http://faircompanies.com/diy/view/make-your-own-open-source-android-smartphone/ [faircompanies.com]
    "Flow DIY is an open source hardware platform so anyone can make a smartphone with the Android operating system and the exact capabilities one is looking for. Its components as well as the final creation by the user are open source, a first step toward the generalization of DIY devices. Interest is growing in personalizing not only software and web applications, but in everyday devices. A legion of DIYers are demanding tools to create increasingly more sophisticated devices. ..."

    As I've said elsewhere, with the turnover rate of Smartphones, in two or three years, today's generation of smartphones will be free-as-in-discarded. :-) So, it can make sense to build stuff for them, especially since if they are free-as-in-discarded-beer then they can be free for kids to use for educational things (like instead of the OLPC XO-1). Reference:
        http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-November/006250.html [listcultures.org]

    That's one reason I started working on Android software (and under a three-years-and-its-free-under-the-GPL model that I am still conflicted
    about).
        http://www.artificialscarcity.com/ [artificialscarcity.com]

    Still, sadly my Google Developer Smartphone died several after I got it and I never got around to sending it in for replacement, so I guess there is an amount of old phones that will not be usable for similar reasons (but I doubt that will be the majority). Also, as people have pointed out, the Smartphone batteries tend to go, making them less useful as they age (although I guess you could hack in some alternative power if you were motivated).

    Still, I'd suggest that if one is making an open manufacturing project that requires computing, integrating an Android Smartphone might be an interesting idea.

    • So, it can make sense to build stuff for them, especially since if they are free-as-in-discarded-beer then

      I'm pretty sure nobody would want my discarded beer... but if you do I can start getting some mason jars to put it in.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The coolest thing about this presentation came right after the stuff about accessories (Video [youtube.com]). Google claims that they have "designed an open, wireless protocol" for devices that don't speak WiFi or Bluetooth. This is supposed to enable "very low cost connectivity with anything that's electrical in your home".

    A little more detail: link [techradar.com]. Seems that it's low speed, which is okay, and that they're using the 900 MHz band which means that sadly it's not going to be for Europe.

  • From TFA:

    is This the End of "Made for iPod (TM)"?

    Oh, please let the answer be "yes". Why should those of us who don't want to be coddled by the Evil Empire be forced to pay an extra $90 for garbage we won't need or use [etymotic.com]? (Just try and find the non-iPod version for sale - I've looked and I can't find it).

Work without a vision is slavery, Vision without work is a pipe dream, But vision with work is the hope of the world.

Working...