My Motorola Atrix just got updated to Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread)

Why is Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) important to robotics?


Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) introduced a API for interfacing hardware to Android phones via USB.

Open Accessory support allows external USB hardware (an Android USB accessory) to interact with an Android-powered device in a special "accessory" mode. When an Android powered device is in accessory mode, the connected accessory acts as the USB host (powers the bus and enumerates devices) and the Android-powered device acts as the USB device. Android USB accessories are specifically designed to attach to Android-powered devices and adhere to a simple protocol (Android accessory protocol) that allows them to detect Android-powered devices that support accessory mode. Accessories must also provide 500mA at 5V for charging power. Many previously released Android-powered devices are only capable of acting as a USB device and cannot initiate connections with external USB devices. Android Open Accessory support overcomes this limitation and allows you to build accessories that can interact with an assortment of Android-powered devices by allowing the accessory to initiate the connection.


A Android phone is the ideal robot brain.  Android phones contain powerful processors (from TI, Marvel, Qualcom, and NVIDIA) accelerometers, WiFi, GPS, and cameras in small lightweight packages.  Open Accessory Development kits provide the final missing piece, connectivity.  Using a Open Accessory Development kit a 2.3.4 powered Android phone can control RC servos, DC motors, and read Sonar/bump switches.  The brain (Android phone) finally has a spine (Open Accessory Development Kit).


The Android Developers webpage lists three options for Android Development Kits (ADK);

  • Microchip provides a PIC based USB microcontroller board
  • The Arduino Store provides the Arduino Mega ADK (in EU nations or non-EU nations) that is based on the ATmega2560 and supports the ADK firmware.
  • SparkFun's IOIO board now has beta support for the ADK firmware.

The Microchip kit looks very nice, and only costs $79.00.  The Arduino board looks expensive.  The Sparkfun IOIO looks perfect.  I am so excited about this board I am going to dedicate another blog just to it.


At this time,  I am waiting for my Microchip ADK.  As soon as it arrives I will post a blog with a project and review.


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Comment by Misael on July 28, 2011 at 11:44am

Hi Eric

You think there will be support for the TWR-MECH board?, it would be interesting see working together the TWR-MECH board and android.

Comment by eric gregori on July 29, 2011 at 12:18pm
That was one of my goals when I still worked at Freescale.  The Coldfire on the board has the horsepower to do it.  I have not heard anything on the future of the TWRMECH or FSLBOT from Freescale.


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