We just found out by chance how to get rid of one of the main hindrance limiting the use of our modules with Android mobile phones: the unique USB port which also serves to connect the power supply. Given that the mobile phone must power connected modules, the phone battery capacity has been a problem so far. What's new is that the "Galaxy Note II Smart Dock" is now available. This dock allows us to realize applications which before required much more hardware. We are going to present a short compatibility example of this device and as well as of the possibilities it provides once combined with our modules.
The Galaxy Note II Smart Dock was announced last November, but has been available only recently (in Europe at least). This dock costs about 60 Euros. It's not cheap, but for this price you get a very functional dock, a USB charger, and a USB A to Micro-B cable. Although sold for the Galaxy Note II, we were able to check that it also works with the Galaxy S3.
Content of the Galaxy Note™ II Smart Dock
This dock is very complete with regards to connections. On the back of the dock, there is a Micro-B socket used to connect the charger, this allows us to power the phone and the USB devices. Still on the back, there is an HDMI (full size) video output and an audio output (jack). On the side, there is what we are most interested in: 3 USB A ports working in Host mode.
We know straight away that this can allow us to transform a phone into a MediaCenter and that we are going to be able to use it to surf on the web and to watch movies on the TV from the couch. We won't perform yet another test of HD video playback (there are plenty others) but we are going to test what happens with applications using our modules.
If we install our Yocto-Meteo application and we connect a Yocto-Meteo on one of the dock USB ports, the application is automatically launched and works perfectly. The Yoctopuce library always detects the module as if it was directly connected by USB to the phone. In this configuration, the phone and the Yocto-Meteo are both powered by the dock and the application can thus function permanently. To be honest, we don't quite know yet how Samsung performed this small miracle (probably by taking some liberty with the USB standards...), but we'll look deeper into this. Only one small limitation worth mentioning: the dock must remain powered to maintain the connection between the modules and the phone. If you unplug the charger, the phone detects a disconnection of the Yoctopuce modules.
The possibilities offered by this device are particularly interesting for monitoring applications. Let's imagine a air conditioned server room. The two classic problems are air conditioning failure and power outage. In both cases, you'd like to be warned ASAP, night and day, to be able to take the necessary steps. There are obviously numerous expensive and cumbersome solutions based on APS and alarm centers. But with a phone, this dock, and a few Yoctopuce modules, you can easily obtain a very smart solution.
The Yocto-Meteo application when the dock is plugged to a TV
The Yocto-Meteo precisely measures the surrounding temperature and humidity, which are the best indicators of the working state of the air conditioning. Rather than connecting the module to one of the severs, we connect it directly to the Samsung dock. The first advantage is that it allows us to send an alarm message using the phone network (data or SMS). Thus, even if the router is out of order, you have a way to communicate with the outside world.
Moreover, it is trivial to detect a power outage: Android allows you to detect if the phone is charging or consuming power. You can therefore measure the length of the power outage and, if need be, send an alarm message through the phone network even if all the servers and routers are out of order. You can always add a Yocto-Relay to drive a beacon if you feel like it, there are still enough free USB ports on the dock...
You can use the Valarm Pro Android app directly
If you are interested but you don't feel confident programming under Android, you can use the Valarm Pro Android app directly, an app created by one of our loyal customers and which provides exactly this type of functionality. Most likely, this dock will soon appear in their compatibility table...