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?


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.


    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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