Always Innovating announced the “HDMI Dongle”, an open source portable STB that runs Android 4.0 on a Texas Instruments OMAP4 processor clocked between 1 and 1.8GHz with 256MB to 1GB of RAM, a microSD slot, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a remote control that provides NFC & accelerometers.
The HDMI Dongle is a device of the size of a USB stick that can be plugged into any HDMI port to transform a any HDMI (and USB) capable TV into a smart TV. The USB port is used to power the device.
The company says the HDMI Dongle is “technically compatible with GoogleTV”, which probably means it is not yet supported, but a software upgrade could enable Google TV for Android 4.0.
The device provides a full-compatible Android experience and any application for this operating system can run on the dongle. The HDMI Dongle can stream and decode from the Internet 1080p H.264 video.
The user interface is controlled with a 9-button remote control for easy navigation, and voice recognition for text input. The accelerometer located in the remote control enables a set of gravity-based games. The remote control also features a NFC chip to offer a tap-to-share experience.
You can have a look at the video below for a demo of the device in a Hotel room.
If you are following this blog, you may have read my post about the “Roku Streaming Stick” which is also an HDMI dongle to stream videos. The difference is that the Roku device support MHL, so it is directly powered via HDMI and you do not need to have an extra remote as the dongle can be controlled by your TV remote. The downside is that there are not many MHL-enabled TVs (I contacted the MHL Consoritum and they provided with the list: a whooping 15 TV) and they are expensive. Roku also uses its own closed source software stack running on Linux whereas the “HDMI Dongle” is open source.
Always Innovating offers the HDMI Dongle to OEM on a licensing basis, so the final product will not be manufactured by this company. Having said that, they already have at least one customer, since they expect the HDMI Dongle to be available during Summer 2012 for between 49 to 99 USD.
If you are interested in licensing the HDMI Dongle you contact them at http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/company/licensing.htm to order the reference design which comes with an Open Source software solution including Angstrom, Ubuntu and Android.
As the product has not been released yet, I think they only provide the source code to licensees for now. Once product retails, the source code will probably be available on Always Innovating Git Repository. They already have some code for their previous products and provide the modified source code for Android, Chrome, Meego, Open Embedded, Ubuntu and some Tools.
The company also mentions that the HDMI Dongle could be used inside a tablet or MID device thanks to the expansion header to interface to camera and LVDS screen. The PCB also provides all the features of a tablet including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, battery management, camera and NFC connectivity.
For further information, you can visit Always Innovating HDMI Dongle product page.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.