Openmoko, maker of open source mobile products, today announced that it has taken another step in opening its mobile platform to the development community by announcing it will publish the schematics for the Neo 1973 and Neo FreeRunner mobile phones. Openmoko broke with traditional mobile phone manufacturers by shipping its Neo 1973 and Neo FreeRunner mobile phones with a free and open source (FOSS) operating system and open applications, enabling developers to take the functionality of the phone well beyond the limited applications that commercial mobile phones can handle. The Neo FreeRunner went on sale July 4, 2008. In less than a week the initial Neo FreeRunner allocation had sold out.
Openmoko has previously published the CAD files for the product under a Creative Commons license so product designers can alter the look and feel of the phone case and craft it to suit such vertical markets as fashion, science, medical, industrial, or enterprise. Developers can also choose other materials for manufacturing the case, making more appealing to fashion tastes or enabling the phone to withstand rugged environments and harsh use.
The PIM features a 10.4-inch rugged touch screen display that shows the position of the vehicle overlaid on a map, allowing passengers in the back seat to track their progress through the city. The PIM is able to accurately and reliably track a vehicle through New York's busy streets thanks to u-blox' dead reckoning technology. Dead reckoning uses sensors in combination with GPS to provide 100% road coverage, even in areas with no GPS signals such as streets with high-rise buildings, tunnels, parking lots and other covert environments without GPS signals.
Now, Openmoko announced it will publish the schematics of the phone, giving engineers free reign to modify Neo phones. Just as Free and Open Source Software provides source code information, open schematics provide vital information to engineers who may want to add functionality, external instruments or sensors, or assist the company in debugging problems, ultimately creating a better product for the entire mobile community.
GPS Schematics Available
Most recently, u-blox AG, Switzerland, maker of the GPS chip in the Openmoko phones, endorsed Openmoko's publishing the complete schematics for the GPS chip in the Neo FreeRunner phones. The schematics now document how the GPS chip is wired into the system, providing vital information for developers who want to leverage the GPS functionality for new designs involving the Openmoko phones.
"We fully support Openmoko's decision to publish the schematics of the u-blox GPS receivers," said u-blox CEO, Thomas Seiler." It is vitally important that developers have access to this data and it improves product quality. Going forward we think that more manufactures and more consumers will demand open architecture products with optimum performance."
"Why should industry be afraid of opening up its design?" asked Openmoko CEO, Sean Moss-Pultz. "Schematics are simply another form of documentation and vital to future success, service and satisfaction in the market. We believe our products would be incomplete without them."
"One of the freedoms we value the most is the freedom to explore. To fully understand the details of complex systems, to adapt and enhance them," said Openmoko Architect, Werner Almesberger. "We now take our commitment to openness to the next level by releasing our schematics to the public, allowing anyone to find out how the system works and how to improve it."
The release of the schematics will covered under a Creative Commons license and files will be posted in due course on openmoko.com and openmoko.org.
Openmoko will show the Neo FreeRunner at LinuxWorld Expo, Moscone Center, San Francisco August 5-7 at booth 1625 and at the LinuxWorld Garage 1234.
The Openmoko Neo FreeRunner has been selected as a finalist the LinuxWorld Product Excellence Awards, to be presented at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo® this week in San Francisco. Judged by a group of respected industry experts managed by LinuxWorld.com, the LinuxWorld Product Excellence Awards recognize product and service innovations by LinuxWorld® and NGDC exhibitors in 12 different categories.
Open Mobile Free
Openmoko frees developers from constraints of closed mobile architectures so they can apply the power of mobility and a flexible development platform to create mobile applications for specialized markets. Using the Openmoko mobile platform, the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community and developers can create unique versions of the FreeRunner phone, modifying the way the phone operates and even the way it looks. CAD files publicly available under a Creative Commons license make it easy for industrial designers to change the appearance of the Openmoko Neo FreeRunner and select alternate materials and finishes to tailor the phone's look and feel.
Distributors in the EU have already received shipments of the Openmoko Neo FreeRunner.
Pricing and availability
The Openmoko Neo FreeRunner has a suggested retail price of $399. Openmoko will restock and sell the phone directly from it its webshop http://www.openmoko.com and via distributors in the EU, India and North America.