Improved UMPC design

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This design focuses making a improved Ultra-Mobile PC with especially designed Linux version (based on the Samsung Q1), which would allow the use without a keyboard. This design was taken from my website.

Overview[edit | edit source]

How the UMPC is to operate and look like
An in-depth look at the software proposed

As reported in the Digital Planet-interview, a keyboard is the main component is the main point which makes the size of a umpc and eliminating it would allow further miniaturisation and/or increased screen size. My system draws on a inheretly new way of computer control, marked by a combination of stylus and speech control (via headset). As such, as marked on the picture the UMPC is made up almost entirely of screen, hereby dismissing keyboard and/or mousepad.

Design specifics[edit | edit source]

Software[edit | edit source]

The Linux version used would no longer work in cooperation with a keyboard or mouse/touchpad, yet instead work with a stylus and speech control (via headset). This generates a new list of demands for the operating system (or "software") used. A combination of primarily stylus, followed by the speech control is necessary for the operation.

This allows to keep command input, hard disk browsing as well as file viewing separate. As such, it simplifies matters (at least for Linux) greatly. This as Linux still relies on the input of certain manual commands into the terminal (eg make file/ make command, commands for starting apps, ...) and which can not be executed within Nautilus/Konqueror anyway.

In addition, not only allows it to use more efficient computer control for the entire Linux community (being implemented generally in all Linux-distros), it also allows the use of smaller handhelds/ultra mobile PC's that use their full length for viewing (“all-screen” PC's). It is undoubtedly clear that these ultra mobile PC's would be the most performant to day in terms in size versus usability.

Taskbar[edit | edit source]

An even further development (which would however result in a embedded OS) would be to drop the taskbar with start-button (windows-style taskbar) entirely and switch completely to voice commands to open up programs (in conjunction with a non-start button taskbar; similar as on Mac OS X). The stylus would still be used to manipulate and close the windows however; and this via the right-hand side of the windows taskbar (stripe-box-cross buttons). Moving the windows may be done by the windows left-hand side (move selection).

To achieve this, special commands for the required (graphical peel) programs are to be added in the BASH and linked with voice recognition. Examples to this are the “command: openBrowser”-command , “command: openWriter”, “command: opensystemmanager (eg yast, ... for system changes, network settings alturations, ...), “command: openMediaPlayer”, ...

Although, through this approach, less programs can be run easily through the graphical peel, the command line through speech recognition may be still used to open up less prevailent (not imbedded in OS X-type taskbar) programs. This is thus an option which would only be really useful for small (subnotebooks, ultra mobile, ..) PC's.

In the snapshot, you see that there is a command window (which by the way remains open/can't be closed, note that there is no cross on the window in the top right corner). So how is this controlled if there is no keyboard ?: the answer is the headset; by simply speaking the text you wish to enter, it is entered. Note that before being able to enter text to the command window, one first needs to "activate" it by pressing on it (on the screen) with the stylus. Note that the other windows can be closed by pressing on the top-rightcross with the stylus. The 1-4 in the top allows to change between the desktops (standard in most GNU/Linux distro's). Options, sound settings, ... can be set in the bottom taskbar with the buttons in the middle of this taskbar. Note that the windows can also be "retracted" (ie by dubble-clicking on the window itself). The command bar can be shrunk as well with the red arrow button. Communication between people can happen using a sort of messenger-style Ekiga software (see bottom left). Windows can also be resized using the stylus (using the arrows-button next to the cross). Finally, besides spoken communication between friends in a same location (using a WLAN, ie WiMAX, ...) the friends can also see the location of each friend by tracking them on a map (ie using google maps, ...) Tracking (optionally) would be done ie using a RFID card or better yet using an RFID implant. This may sound a bit drastic, but the device is ie also intended for use on boats. Implants are handy as they allow ie the location of people that fell over board (MOB or man over board-procedure). RFID cards can be lost in such an event, and active trackers (things that need to be switched on can be off when they're needed or get destroyed).

Next how the starting of programs is done. In the snapshot of the OS, you see that there is no "Start" button (this button on the taskbar is now found in most Linux distro's also). Instead, programs are started by using a command in the command box. A list showing which programs are installed can be requested ie by the command "show installed programs" or something similar. The idea is that almost everything is done via the command box, only some minor options (sound, WiMax/WLAN options, ... ) can be set using the taskbar buttons. For this to work (we need to change people's habits, a difficult task), it requires a very insightly/simplified BASH, and a very simple tree-structure. Also, I envisioned to make the UMPC more simple so that even people in developing countries can work with it (which seems useful as GNU/Linux is already being used for this -see Sugar (OS of One Laptop Per Child) and ie Ubuntu-). To allow the latter, we need to hence make things "very" uncomplicated. As GNU/Linux is even more difficult to work with than Windows or OS X, it requires a lot of changes to be done.

OS[edit | edit source]

To construct the embedded OS in practice, probably the best approach would be to select a linux distribution which standardly works on the latest x window environment (at the moment blackbox, enlightenment and to a lesser extent xfce). This Linux distro that makes use hereof should be chosen as the standard programs (browser, writer, ...) vary depending on the x desktop environment (eg the browser under KDE is normally Konqueror, office under kde is Koffice; while under GNOME Epiphany and OpenOffice are heavily used). Also, the Linux version to be used might be best kept as simple as possible (to reduce the needed computing power for the machine). To do so, I included a list of suggestions that may be implemented into current Linux-distro's. This document is available at and locally at wikiversity at the Linux adaptations for UMPC design-article.

Extra features[edit | edit source]

The UMPC is to have a

  • integrated GPS (and later-on, Galileo)-receiver,
  • digital still camera (similar as on cellphones; perhaps a liquid zoom lens may be added)
  • audio recorder (microphone; on headset)

These extra's should be added so that the UMPC may be used for GPS-navigation, taking pictures, recording audio and provide communication. The GPS/Galileo would be used to determine the location and letting both the user and his friends aware of this. Local audio communication is to be provided via VoIP over WiMax. Besides local communication, phone calls should also be possible when the WiMax network is connected to the internet. It would also be highly recommended if the UMPC is to have a 64-bit CPU (as too may be integrated in some low-cost subnotebooks as the Eee-PC; in its future 2nd-generation version). The features would also increase the value on the market as few UMPC's (if any) exist with integrated GPS-receivers or digital still cameras/microphones. Also, it may attract more people wanting to invest in the development of the device (eg DARPA which is also developing a GPS-handheld).

Integrated WiFi (or preferably WiMax)-functionality (to receive internet-access, WLAN, local WiMax audio broadcasts, reading of RFID-information from personnal, implanted transmitters, ...) may not be really required (this may also be added via a exterior WiFi-dongle or USB-tenna). A dongle may allow increased range (if it is placed in a tin can or wok, hereby creating a Cantenna/WokFi), and greatly increasing the range (up to 20km with wok). Certain USB-tenna's may also increase the range to 18 km and are even much smaller (able to be integrated unto the UMPC itself). This is offcourse the best course of action, yet low-cost versions need to be created then. If a regular can or even better, special antenna's are to be used (eg small slotted waveguide's), integrated WiFi-functionality is required and a integrated connection for a external antenna is to be included. With cantenna's and small slotted waveguides, 4 km (or slightly more) may however only be attained (use can be made of mult-functional cans however as a french press in travel version; to increase functionality). See the 'Wireless Hacks" book by Rob Flickenger for construction plans/designs. The integration of a plug-in for a external antenna finally not only allows the user not to need to solder on their UMPC to install the cantenna, but also allows plugging-in large amateur radio antenna's to increase the range (sometimes reffered to as "hamtennas"). This increase in range can be even greater, but can only be done when not on the road (eg in homes or settlements). Aldough in time, WiMax is to be preferred, the options described above may be used for later adaption to this new wireless LAN-method.

Reading of RFID-information via WiMax is another very important feature. It allows to approximately locate a person and keep track of his whereabouts on a digital map. To do so, the GPS/Galileo-information of the transmission can be recorded and a approximate location (given the RFID-transmitter's transmission range) can be shown. Also, the RFID-transmitter can transmit some personal information alongside and sent his unique RFID-number. This number, that performs the same function as a given name (more precise dough, as no 2 the same numbers can be present, unlike with given names) should also be able to be introduced into a single (preferably continental union-wide) database to retrieve any additional personal information, should this be required.

Practical creation[edit | edit source]

UMPC's that may be chosen to include the software and implement the headset/stylus hardware modifications include Lenovo, Palm, Clarion, ...Their models have been presented at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. Nearly all these models work on a non-embedded Linux version. OQO and LG also have a suitable UMPC yet these run Windows Vista (which may of course be altered). As such, possible buyers must be found in these computer firms. Finally, Fujitsu has a very interesting (low-cost; 105$) tablet PC (the Digital Textbook) coming up which is also ideally suitable for the improvements described.

Cooperation[edit | edit source]

Companies that may cooperate in realising the device in practice:

  • DARPA/US Army (Commander'/Soldiers' Digital Assistant-team)
  • EduVision E-Learning (and its partners) to replace their “E-Slate”-handheld
  • One Laptop Per Child-foundation (as alternative to OLPC)
  • Samsung, Clarion, Palm, LG, OQO and other UMPC manufacturers
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  • Palm
  • Google (if aligned with Google Services). As Google is also creating an open-source OS (Android) and is focusing on GPS devices and handhelds, portable phones, ... alignment with Google is well-possible. An alternative OS being worked out, and which is capable of being used on low-cpu intensive devices is Uclinux. This OS as well as other OS' may be used with open-source GPS-software (see links below).

More information[edit | edit source]

  • Ultra-Mobile PC with headset and speech recognition (Most known speech recognition software package)

  • Enlightenment x desktop environment (available for Ubuntu, Gentoo, Fedora, ...)

  • X destop environments

  • Other UMPC that might have the options above hooked up Lenovo UMPC (running on Red Flag Linux) *Clarion UMPC (also running on Linux) Palm UMPC (predicted to run Linux) (LG UMPC) (OQO UMPC) (The Fujitsu tablet pc) TabletKiosk Sahara and Axiotron Modbook

  • Mark Anderson of SNS predicting the rise of the UMPC in 2008 ("Ten Pedictions for 2008")

  • Mark Anderson's interview by Peter Day (World of Business program; "GlobalBiz: Mark Anderson 01 Jan 08") In this documentary an overview of the "all-screen" Ultra Mobile PC is presented

  • BBC's Digital Planet of 1 Jan 2008, marking the need of new technology for hands free writing (which this UMPC design will offer)

  • The Cambridge Universities 'Interference Group', which has developed a method of keyboard free writing (Dasher)

  • WokFi's and Cantenna's (very small 18.5 km range USB-tenna) (extra info on usb-tenna and how to make it cheaper)

  • E-slate handheld example showing that educational computers may be used no larger than 9x5 inches Tablet pc's already created at low cost, marking the possibility of lowering the price for UMPC's as well

  • Android

  • Uclinux

  • Open source gps

  • Open source hardware GPS-unit example (Galileo needs to be added still) (first type; computer connected)