I Had A MID Night Dream

The US celebrated Martin Luther King’s day last week, which above all reminds us to keep dreaming – sometimes dreams do come true.

I had a dream too…and in my dream, an amazing Mobile Internet Device (MID) was released for our augmented reality experiences.

(See a list of existing MIDs)

my ar device

Here is a first take at defining the dream MID for augmented reality (2009-2010 time frame):

  • Manufacturer – a credible leader, with a friendly content distribution channel
  • Price – Ideally sub $200. Initially not more than $400.
  • CPU – Dual core 1.3 Mhz, with a Floating Point Unit, SIMD extensions
  • GPU – integrated with performance similar to TI’s OMAP3 and NVidia’s Tegra (the competition!)
  • Screen – 4.5 Inch, Min 800×480 resolution, Multitouch, and a very bright screen
  • Camera – A GOOD CAMERA with a quality lens, video recording at 320×240 or preferably 640×480 (VGA) at 30fps at a good quality (noise, contrast, colors, etc) even under low lighting. Zoom and auto focus a bonus. Front camera – bonus.
  • Low latency for getting the the camera image to the CPU/GPU and in turn to the display
  • Zero-latency video output from the device for a head-worn display (digital or analog)
  • Low-latency inputs for external sensors (such as a tracker on the head-worn display) and cameras (on the head-worn display).
  • GOOD graphics drivers, Open GL 2.0 (unlike the current Intel OpenGL drivers on Atom which are almost a show stopper for many projects…)
  • Device size – roughly 130x70x12mm (so that there’s little margin around the screen)
  • Weight – less than 200g
  • OS – The best Mobile Linux out there, with C/C++ based SDK and a good emulator. Also as an alternative: Win Mobile support (better dev tools)
  • Buttons – Very few. QWERTY keyboard is a nice to have.
  • Connectivity – 3G/GSM, WIFI, Bluetooth
  • Sensors – A-GPS, accelerometer, 3DOF Gyro sensors
  • 3-axis compass
  • Storage – 8G and expandable
  • Memory – 1G RAM
  • Battery – Min. 3 hours while in full use of camera and network
  • Extensibility – video out for an HMD, USB port on it.
  • Openness – open source…

So what do you think?

This spec was actually a swift response to a challenge presented by Intel’s Ashley McCorkle.

Many thanks for the contribution by Daniel-Good camera!-Wagner, Steven-don’t forget latency!-Feiner , Bruce-a couple of extras-Thomas, and Charles-Very bright screen-Woodward.

In ISMAR 2009 in Orlando, we are planning to organize a round table discussion for this very purpose. Would you be interested in participating?

***update***

The experts and enthusiasts are weighing in, and as it usually is in reality (as opposed to dreams) remind us that we need to consider trade-offs.

Charles for example says he would trade off battery time for a lighter device. He also suggests that for professional use – a higher price ($1000 range) for a higher quality device would be reasonable.

3 Responses

  1. Sign me up for the roundtable.

    Add:

    Two cameras on the device. One in front, one in back. Must be high rez. Wide angle would be nice.

    Multiple I/O… one mini-usb jack at the bottom won’t cut it.

    Let’s break out of the box…how about some Gi-Fi ? (http://blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony/?p=3288 ) I want wireless wearable displays, this is a good way to go after it.

    Battery life at 6+ hours. Three won’t cut it if we want to get away from cute AR applications and start doing some real practical stuff.

    That’s my two cents : )

  2. I think one high res-camera that can be flipped is, on the whole, better then two.
    (as its likely if your only putting one on the system you can get a better one for the same price, verse a DSi style two of them).

    “Battery life at 6+ hours. Three won’t cut it if we want to get away from cute AR applications and start doing some real practical stuff.”

    Absolutely true.

    I’d suggest solid-state for everything to help achieve this.

  3. […] take on the next gen mobile augmented reality device specs Everyone talking about what near-future AR device should look like, so I’d like […]

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