OpenMoko was created to address the "chicken and egg" problem that mobile application developers can't build innovative new features without new capabilities in their devices, while hardware manufacturers and low-level service providers don't know what to provide to support applications that don't exist yet. In this talk from the Emerging Communications Conference, Michael Shiloh of OpenMoko tells how their open hardware platform solves this problem.
Some of the hardware features on application developers' wish lists are powerful processors, a range of connectivity options (Bluetooth, GSM, 3G, WiFi, etc.), location awareness, new sensors and motors, and a wide range of input options, from traditional screens and buttons to new sensors like the accelerometers in the Nintendo WiiMote.
OpenMoko is several things aimed at meeting this goal. First, it is an independent company wholly owned by First International Computer, Inc., which gives it the freedom and legitimacy to focus on this problem. Second, it is an open-source Linux mobile distribution for developing mobile applications. Finally, the company manufactures the Neo handset, an open hardware platform.
The Neo has most of the items on the previously mentioned wish list, its software is all open sourced, and even the hardware is as open as possible. Some of the open aspects of the hardware are the open sourced block and CAD diagrams, inter-chip communication documentation, and wiring ports available inside the phone where new wires can be soldered in.
This platform gives users with niche needs like navigation systems or medical devices a powerful, flexible platform to build on, rather than limit themselves to what mass-market device manufacturers are producing.
Michael Shiloh has a background in hardware and software, a passion for tinkering, and a deep rooted belief in the benefits of Open Source, Michael was immediately drawn to the OpenMoko project. A community member from the moment he learned about the project in November of 2006, Michael joined OpenMoko in July of 2007. Michael Shiloh is responsible for supporting the OpenMoko open source community and for coordinating their contributions to the project. This includes passing information from the company to the community, suggestions and concerns from the community back to the company, and advocating for OpenMoko to the world at large.
This free podcast is from our Emerging Communications series.