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Touch subsystem supplies Android UI for microwaves, washers

Jan 14, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Touch Revolution is shipping an Android-driven touchscreen subsystem that OEMs can “drop in” to microwave ovens, washing machines, printers, IP phones, and more. The Nimble NIM1000 module comprises an embedded board with a Marvell/ARM PXA310 clocked to 806MHz, and a 7-inch, WVGA projective capacitive touchscreen, says the company.

We first heard about Touch Revolution last April, when the company was rumored to be working on an Android-based "Nimble" touchscreen IP phone design. Now it appears they have set their sights higher, or at least broader, by promising Android touchscreens for everything from washing machines, to in-flight entertainment centers, to medical devices.

Nimble NIM1000-based prototypes for a microwave, IP phone, and printer

(Click to enlarge)

At CES, the company demonstrated several designs based on the NIM1000 subsystem (pictured later in this story), including displays for a washing machine/dryer, microwave oven, printer, and the aforementioned IP desktop phone. Details were provided as follows:

  • Washing machine and dryer — The washer/dryer display offers slider touchscreen controls to set wash and dry cycles and view progress, says Touch Revolution. Explanations are available for "cryptic label wash symbols," and online stain guides are said to provide information on removing tough stains.
  • Microwave oven — Doubling as a "kitchen command center," the microwave display offers widgets for news and weather, a digital picture frame, and an Internet radio (with Pandora access). Other features are said to include recipes with video instructions, a web browser, and timers.
  • Printer — The Nimble interface for an all-in-one printer offers an Internet connection, as well as applications to navigate and print both local and web content, including maps/directions, tickets, coupons, and photographs, says Touch Revolution. The NIM1000-enabled printer can be set up to have its own email address, enabling users to email documents for remote printing.
  • IP phone — The Nimble reference design for an enterprise desktop smartphone incorporates "all the features of the best mobile smartphones," says the company.

Touch Revolution did not mention whether third parties were actually working on the above designs or whether they were only provided as reference design prototypes. The company noted that many more types of appliances and consumer electronics could be fitted with the NIM1000 subsystem.

NIM1000 board and display

The NIM1000 is powered by a 4.8 x 4.1-inch embedded board with an ARM11/XScale-based Marvell PXA310 system-on-chip (SoC), says Touch Revolution. Previously called the Intel Monahans-LV, the SoC can be clocked to 624MHz or 806MHz on the NIM1000.

The NIM1000 ships with 128MB or 256MB of RAM and 512MB NAND, expandable via optional SD/SDHC and SDIO controllers, says Touch Revolution. The board is said to offer a wide variety of I/O connectors, many of which are supported with optional controllers and ports (see spec list below).

Options include WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB 2.0 and 1.1 controllers, accelerometers, battery support, and a stereo amplifier. The device also ships standard with a number of Android-specific buttons and LEDs.

NIM1000 display

The 7-inch projective capacitive "ProCap" display features 800 x 480 resolution, and chemically strengthened glass, says the company. Touch Revolution also offers an optional mounting frame to incorporate the full subsystem.

NIM1000 display with mounting frame and Android UI in action

The NIM1000 is available with a Nimble Development Kit that includes the board, display, and Touch Revolution's Android port, says the company. Combined with the ProCap display, the Android-driven touch UI enables a "feather light finger touch," and offers features including gesture recognition, as well as synchronized onscreen animations for flick to scroll, drag and drop, and pinch to enlarge, says the company.

Specifications listed for the NIM1000 include:

  • Processor — Marvell PXA310 @ 624MHz or 806MHz
  • Memory — 128MB or 256MB mobile LPDDR
  • Flash — 512MB NAND (expandable)
  • Flash expansion — SD connector; optional SD/SDHC and SDIO controller
  • Display:
    • 7-inch, 800 x 480 touchscreen, 262K colors
    • 500:1 contrast ratio
    • 140/110 viewing angle
    • Glass projective capacitive with anti-glare, anti-smudge
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet connector; optional controller
  • WiFi — WiFi antenna connector; optional 802.11 b/g radio (with 802.11e QoS, 802.11i)
  • Bluetooth — optional Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • USB:
    • USB Client and Host connectors
    • Optional USB 2.0 Device (Full speed and High Speed)
    • Optional USB 1.1 Host controller (Low Speed and Full Speed)
    • Optional 3-Port Hub supporting USB Low-Speed and Full-Speed
  • Audio — Stereo speaker, headphone, and microphone connectors; optional 2.1 W stereo amplifier
  • Accelerometer — optional 3-axis MEMS motion sensor
  • Other I/O connectors — UART, SSP, PWM, GPIO, vibration, camera (CIF), hook, SSP
  • Debug connectors — JTAG with UART, LED, Reset
  • Android-specific buttons/connectors:
    • Android buttons (home, back, menu)
    • 3 x device-specific LEDs
    • Volume controls (up, down, mute)
    • Power button
    • 2 x Android charging/notification LEDs
  • Power — 5 V power and battery connectors; optional battery charger and "fuel gauge"
  • Dimensions:
    • Board — 4.8 x 4.1 x .06 inches; (121.0 x 104.9 x 1.58mm)
    • Display — 7.0 x 4.5 inches (177.8 x 114.3mm)
    • PC-ABS mounting frame (optional) — 7.04 x 5.47 inches (179 x 139mm)

Stated Touch Revolution CEO Mark Hamblin, who is said to have previously served as the design lead for the original iPhone touchscreen at Apple, "Our experts in touch-screen technologies, hardware engineering, software development and user interface design spent more than a year developing and testing the 'drop-in' NIM1000 module to assure its suitability for high volume manufacturing."


The Nimble NIM1000 module is now available for purchase by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), says Touch Revolution, which did not mention price. More information may be found here.

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