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External 20 Gb Hard Drive for Smartphones & PDA's

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#1
nick123

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Is anyone interested in the idea of an external Bluetooth wireless HDD (Hard Drive) for memory storage for Smartphones and PDA's? I'm in discussion for possible development of this, but any feedback would be appreciated.

CONCEPT
* BT-enabled Hard Drive to connect to any BT-enabled Smartphone or WM2003 PDA - 20Gb. Battery operated, matchbox size.
* Also doubles up as a stand-alone MP3 player.
* Acts as mass memory storage, showing up as a storage card on your device
* Includes software to replace/enhance Activesync
* Enables synchronisation of ALL Outlook data, all email sub-folders, all attachments (within the limits of 20Gb available).

SOFTWARE
PC module - allows shared files to be selected, records file changes made, updates by overwriting changed files in direction of PC or direction of device (you select).
Device module - synchronises Outlook entries (Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Favorites, Notes). Allows all files on the HDD to be accessed, change & moved. Allows all PC email accounts to be viewed/replied to via a 'virtual account' interface (similar to the default 'Activesync' one).

The nominal 1Mb/sec bandwidth of bluetooth means that transfers of large files is going to be slow, but the HDD will have a USB cable when connected to the PC. Synchronisation is really eliminated by this idea, as you simply carry around the data with you - the HDD can even stay in the bottom of your briefcase or deep in your pocket. No synchronisation means no file version conflicts, no deletion of data by error, no duplicate files. If you have both a Smartphone and a PDA, you can read the same data on both devices. In fact you can access the data on any number of BT-enabled devices without limit.

Interesting? -....... or plain crazy?

Nick

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#2
dahquim

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Great Idea!!!

just one thing springs to mind..... Security (Blue Jacking)

just a thought

Dahquim

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#3
squall

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Streaming of music may be cool!

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Regards
Ian

#4
Samsonite

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nice idea! what about battery life/charging etc? gonna be thirsty innit?

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#5
nick123

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Thanks for the feedback! - I'm glad you like the idea: all I've got to do now is find someone who can sling together a prototype.....any offers will be gratefully received.

"Blue-jacking" - I guess this is a threat, but the same in principle as when you connect to ActiveSync using bluetooth in the office or home. The risk will be higher because more data is potentially accessible, I suppose, and the user may be out in public places.

Streaming music: since the storage device is also an MP3 player, you don't need the PDA - just a set of bluetooth stereo headphones!

Battery life: bluetooth is not too thirsty - the battery life should be as good as (...as bad as...?) an iPOD.

Nick

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#6
Poderr

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http://www.linksys.com/hdd/ might be a good place to start with a Proof of Concept device. It runs Linux and there are loads of tutorials for hacking additional functionailty into it.

Presumably you'd just need to add Bluetooth netorking support to it, and I guess this is something *nix geek could do easily enough. While it wouldn't be a very elegant box, it would provide a working prototype. You could then put it in a custom molded case.

With additional investment (which hopefully you would be able to get after demonstarting the prototype) you could start building ones with Laptop HDDs and USB BT dongles intergrated in? The Linksys firmware must be GPL'd, so you should be able to use it in your device easily enough, with the added benifit that other users will add additional functionailty to your device for you... :D It might be possible to use it as a VoIP gateway for a LAN, or a VoIP phone with a BT headset. Possibilities are endless. :D

As for the device drivers for the Smartphones, I've no idea. Definately worth persuing for someone.

Edited by Poderr, 27 January 2005 - 03:57 PM.

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#7
Monolithix

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If you mean bluejacking then theres no risk there, its just taking advantage of most devices not requiring BT devices to be paired to transfer files and contacts. Almost all other BT devices, handsfree kits for example, require a pairing key. Add customisation options to the setup software and you're sorted.

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I still exist


#8
nick123

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http://www.linksys.com/hdd/ might be a good place to start with a Proof of Concept device. It runs Linux and there are loads of tutorials for hacking additional functionailty into it.

Presumably you'd just need to add Bluetooth netorking support to it, and I guess this is something *nix geek could do easily enough. While it wouldn't be a very elegant box, it would provide a working prototype. You could then put it in a custom molded case.

With additional investment (which hopefully you would be able to get after demonstarting the prototype) you could start building ones with Laptop HDDs and USB BT dongles intergrated in? The Linksys firmware must be GPL'd, so you should be able to use it in your device easily enough, with the added benifit that other users will add additional functionailty to your device for you... :lol: It might be possible to use it as a VoIP gateway for a LAN, or a VoIP phone with a BT headset. Possibilities are endless. :(

As for the device drivers for the Smartphones, I've no idea. Definately worth persuing for someone.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Thanks Poderr,

On the hardware front, I've been tipped off that Toshiba tried a 5Gb version of a portable HDD called 'Hopbit' in 2002. It was only for the Japanese market, and the publicity on it seems rather confused about the purpose of using it....they plug the mp3 player angle, but I don't think this in itself is enough. I think Toshiba were too early for the idea and it lacked focus. Anyway, the fact that the hardware already exists is a good start. You lost me with the tech language as I'm a biochemist by training and I'm approaching the concept with a Taiwanese developer who I hope understands these things. They're pretty hot on Smartphone and bluetooth technology, so if they decide to do it I have no doubt that they have the capability, both the hardware and software. All I know is that I'm pretty clear about what I need, and I'm sure I'm not unique in my requirements.

Interesting comments you make about VoIP: I've got another 'concept project' on this, another battery-powered box that is a BT-WiFi bridge. This will allow any BT-enabled phone to use a Wi-Fi hotspot, but I'm not sure if the Bluetooth link between the box and the phone will be fast enough to enable VOiP....there's a lot more going on in the background as I understand it, it's not just an audio gateway: you can see this for yourself if you load Skype, for example, into a PDA - it works fine using a direct WiFi link, but try going via a BT connection between the PDA and an internet-connected PC and it won't work. The only way round this would be to put most of the VOiP software in the box as ROM, and just leave the BT link to handle an audio gateway to the phone. I don't think Skype or other VOiP providers will go along with this idea, as they seem frightened of upsetting the mobile phone providers; in Asia there is already a lot of contention about using 3G phones for VOiP because of the threat of loss of revenue by the mobile phone network providers.

Nick

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#9
nick123

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If you mean bluejacking then theres no risk there, its just taking advantage of  most devices not requiring BT devices to be paired to transfer files and contacts.  Almost all other BT devices, handsfree kits for example, require a pairing key.  Add customisation options to the setup software and you're sorted.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Thanks for the reassurance - yes, of course the link would have to be a secure paired one.

Nick

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#10
Perfectionist

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Huh !!

I didn't realise making a product idea into a viable business was so easy !!

:lol:

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Perfect Device = Samsung M8920 with WinMo7 plus FM & TV Tuners !!


#11
Drewtech

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Surely I already have one of those. It's called a PC.

Sorry but I don't see the need for a seperate HD just for my phone. People who don't use PCs much mught find it useful.

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#12
nick123

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Surely I already have one of those. It's called a PC.

Sorry but I don't see the need for a seperate HD just for my phone. People who don't use PCs much mught find it useful.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Thanks for the comment: that's the difficulty, I don't know how many people have/want to ditch their laptops like I have (I have PC's, but they're hard-wired desktops). The problem with a laptop is that even a small one weighs 1kg: I'm looking at a device that is the size of an iPOD and a battery life of several days between recharge - and you don't have to take it out of the briefcase except to recharge it. I'm waiting to see what the market research result brings, but your reaction is going to be quite typical, I think.

Perhaps I should start with just the Activsync replacement software, which will work between a PC & a PDA/phone as well as the hardware device I have proposed?

Nick

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#13
fatman

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Streaming music: since the storage device is also an MP3 player, you don't need the PDA - just a set of bluetooth stereo headphones!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


How would you anticipate the device working with the phone when receiving calls? Using my phone as a media player has the nice side effect that I know if someones ringing, or I've just received a text message. I'm not sure how well this would work if the headphones were paired with the storage/player device rather than the phone. Would the headphones still be able to function as a handsfree headset? Perhaps the storage device could be the handsfree unit for the phone? Are notifications relayed to a bluetooth headset?

Also if the device is going to be an MP3 player what formats etc would you anticipate supporting? WMA, Ogg, FLAC etc? Would the device be folder or tage based navigation? Would it support the microsoft media transfer protocol (MTP)? All things considered I would have thought that it would be easier to get the device to function as a bluetooth off-board "virtual sd card" and use the normal phone software etc to play music, videos etc... that way you won't have to develop the controls and software for the player!

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#14
nick123

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Hi Fatman, yes you're right, trying to get an extrenal device all-singing and all-dancing is going to be tricky, and I think any initial release will concentrate on the simpler task of data storage. The idea was to get the device working as an mp3 player indepentently of the phone, either with plug-in stero headphones or bluetooth ones. This isn't interfering with the phone functions, the phone isn't concerned with this configuration. It's just a stand-alone option to sue the device as a regular mp3 player. Obviously, if you're using the headset to listen to the stereo you can't use them for phone calls at the same time. I hadn't thought about the idea of using the device as a handsfree centre for the phone, but this wouldn't solve the bluetooth switching problem, as the device couldn't use the headset connection at the same time as the phone connection.
Any initial release, if we get that far, will start with just a giant external 'storage card', with some added software for the Activesync replacement/enhancement.
Nick

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#15
aenikata

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In some ways the device you want to look at for comparative purposes is Sony-Ericssons new media player - the HBM-30 - it plays MP3s, and can act at a bluetooth headset. It's designed to be small and flash-based, rather than somewhat larger and HDD-based, but it's on the market and fairly cheap.

It doesn't (at least so far as I know) support sending/receiving files from the phone, but implementing OBEX file transfer shouldn't be too hard with a basic bluetooth chipset.

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#16
nick123

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In some ways the device you want to look at for comparative purposes is Sony-Ericssons new media player - the HBM-30 - it plays MP3s, and can act at a bluetooth headset. It's designed to be small and flash-based, rather than somewhat larger and HDD-based, but it's on the market and fairly cheap.

It doesn't (at least so far as I know) support sending/receiving files from the phone, but implementing OBEX file transfer shouldn't be too hard with a basic bluetooth chipset.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Many thanks for this lead, Aenikata. I agree, from a hardware standpoint it has the necessary elements (except the memory size is a bit small) and all it needs is some software development and enhancements to get it functioning as I have suggested. I'm passing this tip on to the developers, again many thanks.
Regards,
Nick

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#17
JOhnnyboy

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Hi I know this is quite an old thread but I was very interested in comments made about seeing the files as a 'Virtual' Storage Card on a smartphone.

Is there anyway this could be implemented even so that I could see files from my regular PC on my smartphone.

It would be so useful to be able to browse from my phone and run files like you would over a normal network eg MP3s - that can be played via my phone plugged into the Stereo downstairs, gotta be great for parties!


As for using an external hard drive I think this would be great if it were Ipod size and able to again play MP3's/video networked over bluetooth as above. I would never want to use a bluetooth headset to listen direct from the hard drive device, would be much better to use a decent set of headphones plugged into my phone. This would be the ultimate MP3 player as you would still be able to know when calls/txt are received. - not gonna get that on yer 3gig Ipod!

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