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Linux gadget lets camera-phones upload to the web

Sep 26, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Italy-based KDev has used Linux to build a cellphone-to-web gateway device aimed at letting users easily and instantly upload camera-phone photos to the web. The FoxBox MMS integrates a GSM/GPRS cellular modem card, and accepts photos sent via multimedia messaging service (MMS).

(Click for larger view of KDev's FoxBox MMS)

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KDev's founder, David Cantaluppi, notes that MMS messages are usually free to the receiving party. Thus, he suggests that it would be inexpensive for web sites to use the FoxBox MMS as the basis for games or photo contests.

According to Cantaluppi, no phone configuration is required; users simply send their photos via MMS to the FoxBox's cellular phone number. The FoxBox converts them to a suitable web format, such as JPEG, GIF, or PNG. After that, they are remotely accessible and can be managed as normal files using the FoxBox's FTP and HTTP (WebDAV) interfaces.

Alternatively, users can program the FoxBox to handle received messages in a custom way — for example, to upload them to a production website. The device's Linux 2.6 operating system environment can be programmed in bash, C, or PHP, Cantaluppi said.

Acme FoxServe
(Click to enlarge)

The FoxBox MMS succeeds KDev's original FoxBox SMS, which shipped in May. Both devices serve as a bridge between TCP/IP and cellular networks, which they connect to via a quad-band GSM/GPRS modem. Both offer web, email (SMTP/POP3), and SQL database interfaces, and store messages in an SQL database format on removable SD/MMC cards or USB storage devices.

Both systems are based on the Acme FoxServe (pictured at right), which runs Linux on a tiny SBC (single-board computer) measuring 2.6 x 2.8 inches. The board is based on an Etrax 100LX MCM (multi-chip module).

Touted features and specs of the FoxBox MMS include:

  • Full MMS receiving and decoding
  • Multimedia contents “automatically decoded” into web formats including JPEG, GIF, and PNG
  • Can reply to each MMS via SMS
  • Handles 30 incoming SMS messages per minute, with a common SIM card
  • Web (webDAV) and FTP interfaces allow remote file management of uploaded content
    • Read and write messages
    • Make “pools”
    • Manage phone book
    • Broadcast messages
    • Define user access profiles
    • Edit event scripts
    • Customize pages via XSL, CSS
  • BIS Module for failover, using two appliances for backup
  • 2 x USB ports
  • Internal clock with backup battery and NTP support
  • Case measures 4.3 x 4.1 x 1.8 inches (110 x 105 x 45mm)

Additionally, the FoxBox MMS is said to have a “stunning” Web 2.0 interface, as depicted in the screenshots below.

Acme Foxbox MMS screenshots
(Click to each image enlarge)

Cantaluppi said, “Think how nice [would] be to populate your site with photos coming from users' mobile phones!”


The FoxBox MMS is available now, priced at 880 Euros (about $1,240). It comes with a cellular modem and antenna, 1GB SD/MMC memory card, and Linux software CD, according to the company. Preinstallated applications are said to include a Linux 2.6-series kernel, bash shell, the Apache Web server and a SQL lite database, which is used to manage and store the MMS/SMS message queues. Also available on an included CD are C and PHP programming tools.

A Tux-shaped case is available for the FoxServe board, but is not large enough to accommodate the GSM/GPRS modem card, Cantaluppi said.

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