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Device profile: Sony Navitus universal remote control

Jul 29, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 36 views

Sony has used Linux in a $700 universal remote control with a high-resolution color LCD touchscreen display and a host of gee-whiz features. The RM-NX7000 “Navitus Remote Commander” can replace most any infrared remote after receiving its beam, and can control stereo components, TVs, DVDs, satellite receivers, and more.

The Navitus includesh a charging station and power supply
(Click image for a larger view)

The Navitus remote control is supplied with a charging cradle and a wall-wart style power supply. It comes pre-programmed to operate “most Sony components,” according to Sony, and can be configured to operate other devices by pointing their remote controls at the Navitus and beaming a signal: the Navitus then groks the infrared protocol being used and adds support for the appropriate device. (A more traditional menu-driven list of supported devices is also available for users who may have lost or broken their stock remote.)

The Navitus includes extensive “macro” programming capabilities that enable commands to be daisy-chained together, even to multiple devices. For example, a single button could be configured to power on the TV, sound system, satellite receiver and PVR, select a station, and begin recording.

The remote powers down after 10 minutes of inactivity, a useful feature in many households. It also offers extensive customization options through PC-based Navitus design software. The software can be used to customize all interface screens, add wallpaper, choose skins, and even add and delete functions from each screen. The new designs are downloaded to the device through a USB cable connection to the device, or through a memory stick.

Click for screenshots of the following stock interfaces, each of which can be invoked by the small buttons beneath the screen:

What's under the hood?

The Navitus is based on a 200MHz Motorola i.MX1, a popular ARM920 based application processor that powers several PDAs (including the Royal Linea) and other handheld devices that run Linux. The Navitus boots from 32MB of Flash, using the JFFS2 filesystem, cramfs, tmpfs, and ramfs.

The Navitus measures 4 x 6.5 x 2 inches (120 x 174 x 38 mm) and includes a 3.5-inch backlit touchscreen LCD supporting 65K colors. It weighs in at 12 ounces, for optimal beverage balancing properties. Operating range is 33 feet (10 meters).

I/O ports include a USB port and a memory stick slot. The device is powered by a non-removable Ni-MH battery.

Software side

The Navitus uses a 2.4.18 Linux kernel based on MontaVista Linux, which has supported the i.MX1 processor since July of 2003. Sony lists bash, busybox, and tinylogin among the source packages, and the kernel appears to include support for the processor's serial interface, suggesting that it may be possible to somehow bring up a shell on the remote control. The kernel also appears to support NFS, possibly for use with a filesystem on a remote development host. These features may have been disabled in the kernel that is included in the production version, however.

The Navitus uses mtools to interface with the memory stick, and appears capable of initializing memory sticks using the msmkdosfs package.

In addition to standard ASCII (iso8859-1)and US English (codepage 437), the Navitus supports Multilingual Latin 1 (NLS codepage 850), suggesting Sony will market the device in Europe.

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