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Device Profile: Convergent Muse touchscreen automation controller

Dec 7, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Convergent Living used Linux to build a WiFi-capable automation controller aimed at letting users control HVAC and multimedia equipment in homes or offices. The handheld Companion Muse is one of several energy-efficient, Linux-based touchscreen controllers from Convergent, whose products range from kitchen computers to… flatscreen TVs.


Companion Muse
(Click to enlarge)

The Muse and other Convergent touchscreens are intended to be sold and installed through professional integration markets, says Convergent. Once configured, they are designed for use by homeowners, with additional applications in corporate boardrooms, bars, restaurants, and other public venues.

With the Muse, says Convergent, home owners can access the Web from anywhere in the house, while controlling and programming their HVAC, stereo, security systems, spa systems, and other home devices. The Muse can work with existing devices or be extended via “network translators” that enable control over devices with serial or IR interfaces.


Convergent Companion and Sidekick devices in sophisticated home network
(Click to enlarge)

According to a company spokesperson, however, the Muse “is not advised as a mission-critical standalone controller because of the inherent unreliability in WiFi and li-ion batteries.” Convergent recommends it instead as a mobile client adjunct to the company's Companion 15, Companion 8, or SideKick master controller.

What's under the hood?

Formally referred to as the MU8B005, the Companion Muse is based on an 800MHz LX-800 Geode processor. The Muse is equipped with a 8.4-inch TFT Active Matrix 800 x 600 SVGA LCD touchscreen, and includes an embedded 802.11b 2.4GHz Wi-Fi card and 16-bit audio with a built-in speaker and headphone jack. The 7.9 x 9.6 x 1.1-inch, 1.9-pound controller is encased in a magnesium-alloy housing, with optional rubber grips. It comes with VESA wall mounts and a recharging desk cradle with power connector. USB ports are available on both the unit and the cradle.


Companion Muse details
(Click to enlarge)

The fanless device includes a four-way rocker, which, together with four front-mounted preset buttons can be configured to control tasks such as screen on/off, go to browser home page, and volume and playlist controls. They can also be set to operate garage doors, lights, and alarm systems.

The following list includes some of the Muse's specifications:

  • Processor — LX-800 Geode 800MHz (with Li-ion smart battery technology)
  • Memory - 128MB
  • Display — 8.4-inch TFT Active Matrix 800 x 600 SVGA LCD touchscreen
  • Communications — 802.11b Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz wireless RF card
  • Audio — 16-bit audio with stereo headphone jack; built-in speaker/mic
  • Input — Onscreen soft keyboard; thumb scroll button; four-way rocker; four control buttons
  • Power — Recharging desk cradle with power connector and USB pass-through
  • Options: Extra battery pack, wall cradles, USB keyboard, case
  • Dimensions — 7.9 x 9.6 x 1.1 (201 x 244 x 28.5mm)
  • Weight — 1.9 lbs. (.86 kg), excluding AC/DC adapter
  • Software - Web browser supporting HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0, Javascript 1.3

Convergent Living recently announced it was deploying its Companion touchscreens in O Bel Sole!, a 41-unit green/solar community in Southern California's first development in the California Energy Commission's new Solar Homes Partnership sponsored in part by Southern Cal Edison, Sunpower and Archenergy.

Availability

Muse and the other Convergent Living products listed above are shipping now. The Muse is priced at $4,357, including system drivers.

The company's other Linux-based products include:

  • Companion 8 — in-wall, fanless, 8-inch touchscreen based on a 400MHz MX-500 Geode; includes Ethernet port
  • Companion 15 - industrial-grade 15-inch desktop or wall (VESA) surface mount touchscreen based on a Via 1GHz processor. Includes power supply, and a USB/PS/2 keyboard and mouse.
  • SideKick — controller system (without an LCD) equipped with an 800MHz Via processor, Ethernet, two USB ports, and one DB9 RS-232 (five with Sidekick I/O model); controls home displays, TVs, PCs or third-party touchscreens
  • Companion Enhance - 12-, 15- and 26-inch LCD touchscreen displays equipped with an 800MHz Geode; includes Ethernet, two USB ports and one DB9 RS-232

 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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