an android phone capable and if so appropriate for this?


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  1. johnyboy

    johnyboy Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hello,

    I want to develop a piece of software to run on a device for a particular task, and am casting about looking for an appropriate platform/setup/device.

    This is the general desired setup (in a single fixed location, on an ongoing continuous basis): A small number of sensors (USB webcams), feeding into a device. Software running on device developed by me to process sensor input data, and to communicate results to a webserver, via internet -- via a normal broadband connection.

    Of course I could just use a normal computer of some sort. But the device being low powered, small, and cheap would be big plusses. So I'm wondering if an Android phone could do this, therefore might be appropriate?

    With an Android phone, can you connect to the internet via a normal broadband connection (either by some cable connection or Wi-Fi) just like you do with a normal computer? Then have my homemade software make use of the internet? Also, assuming the device has a USB connector, have access, from my code, to data provided by USB devices? Are there USB webcams compatible with Android phones? Is there a way to have several webcams feeding in at the same time, maybe using some USB hub?

    Any info much appreciated. Thanks.

    Just to add: this'd be without making use of, therefore paying any money to, any phone company's network (apart from the normal broadband connection bit).

    So any of that possible or impossible, feasible or infeasible? (I know nothing about the ins and outs of mobile phones, their caperbilities etc., so I'm just trying to get an idea of what's feasible and what isn't. (I'm OK at programming in general though.)) Thanks.
     

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  2. gruss

    gruss Well-Known Member

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    Sounds kind of complicated to get it working with a phone? Netbook might be a better option. No idea how you would get multiple webcams connected to it.
     
  3. johnyboy

    johnyboy Member This Topic's Starter

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    Thanks for the reply.

    > Sounds kind of complicated to get it working with a phone?

    I have no idea. I know next to nothing about mobile phones in general.

    > Netbook might be a better option.

    That'd do it for sure. Be nice to use something smaller, cheaper and lower powered (in terms of both consumption of power and processing power) though. If an Android phone could do it, it'd be perfect.

    > No idea how you would get multiple webcams connected to it.

    I'm unsure on that bit for any device. I'm assuming, I vaguely remember seeing such things, there's a hub like unit which has multiple USB inputs and one output... Ah, doing a Google search for 'USB hub' shows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_hub for example. For the software side of it, I have no idea though. Presumably if it's possible to access one camera it'll be possible to access several.

    So, OK, forget about the multiple cameras aspect, what about just one? I see some/most Android phones have USB connections but what about drivers for the camera? Is Android capable of using webcams of any sort? Do drivers exist (either supplied by camera manufacturers or built into Android or provided by some other party)?

    Also, what about the internet bit? Is it possible to connect an Android phone via USB or WiFi (or something else) to a normal broadband router/modem in order to connect to the internet that way?, not using any mobile phone network? Is that supported by software (by Android itself or some code/app available for it) in Android at all?

    Thanks.
     
  4. gruss

    gruss Well-Known Member

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    Never heard of hooking up external web cam to android? While the power requirements are lower from a phone, I've seen lots of netbooks with lower price tags than a phone with enough (if current top tier have enough) power to do what you need purchased outright. You might be able to use built in cam with some software that allows video chat to simply continually stream an image but it would be pretty limited, maybe be able to control phone via webkey or something?
     
  5. johnyboy

    johnyboy Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hi, thanks for the reply.

    > Never heard of hooking up external web cam to android?

    I guess you're telling me you haven't heard of hooking up external webcam to Android, rather than asking me? Yup, I think so. Right, OK.

    Just found the following; people wanting to attach a webcam to Android devices, no positive leads though
    http://androidforums.com/incredible...2-how-abt-usb-webcam-android-smartphones.html
    http://www.androidtablets.net/forum...08-how-connect-usb-webcam-android-tablet.html
    http://android.stackexchange.com/questions/2312/can-i-drive-a-usb-webcam-with-my-android-touchpad
    At least I'm not the only person wanting that.

    Hmm, according to this
    http://android.stackexchange.com/questions/748/can-you-connect-usb-devices-to-an-android-phones
    Description of host mode: http://wiki.maemo.org/USB_host_mode

    It looks like Android devices, via USB, will only act as the slave to another device which acts as the host (e.g. normal computer). In the situation of attaching a camera via USB, the camera is the slave and the Android device would be the host.

    So it looks like it's not possible until Android devices can be USB hosts, for which I guess something substantial would need to change; at least Android and maybe phones themselves.

    There is talk about connecting webcams to Android devices via other means though, like WiFi so maybe that'd be possible.


    > I've seen lots of netbooks with lower price tags than a phone with enough (if current top tier have enough) power to do what you need purchased outright.

    A netbook isn't a bad suggestion. Price wise for a phone I was looking at this one http://search.ebay.co.uk/zte+racer (
     
  6. gruss

    gruss Well-Known Member

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    Yes android can access WiFi just like a laptop, some custom Roms can even connect via usb. Any laptop I've ever had, all you have to do is select option "do nothing when lid is closed" and it continues to run....just fyi. There are some little cube things we used to run that had a flavor of Linux on them for dhcp servers, all web interface with network and WiFi etc built in. Don't remember name but cost was low and remote access was what they were designed for.
     
  7. johnyboy

    johnyboy Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hi,

    > Yes android can access WiFi just like a laptop, some custom Roms can even connect via usb.

    That's interesting and good to know. So, so far as using an Android phone as a device which sits there, running some homemade code/app, sending data using homemade app to a server via a normal broadband connection -- all that's perfectly possible. It's just the input into the phone which is not so possible, at least not via USB because of lack of USB host capability.

    Hmm, interesting. I can certainly see Android devices being used like this quite a bit I reckon, especially if and when they can act as a USB host, or there's some other input method instead.

    I wonder if the lack of USB host capability is both a hardware and software thing, or just a software thing. Probably both. Android tablet users will want this more than phone users I suppose.

    > Any laptop I've ever had, all you have to do is select option "do nothing when lid is closed" and it continues to run....just fyi.

    Oh OK, didn't know that. Right, good to know.

    > There are some little cube things we used to run that had a flavor of Linux on them for dhcp servers, all web interface with network and WiFi etc built in. Don't remember name but cost was low and remote access was what they were designed for.

    That sounds exactly like the kind of thing I'm after. After a whole lot of searching, is this the kind of thing you're talking about?:
    http://gizmodo.com/5159399/sheevaplug-a-99-linux-pc-crammed-inside-a-wall-plug
    If I could get webcam drivers to work for that I reckon that's the sort of thing I want. I'm a bit lacking in confidence about getting it to work but that certainly is an interesting lead/direction; thanks very much.
     
  8. johnyboy

    johnyboy Member This Topic's Starter

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