Someone's gotta say it.... Farnsworth Communicator.... I spent my horus at work today contemplating exactly how I would go from a Rapsberry Pi to one....
that brings up one of my biggest pet peeves about displays of today LCD, E-ink, plasma it doesn't matter they're all rectangles. I mean how hard can it be to make a round screen or maybe just rounded corners?
Anyway beyond my issues back to the Farnsworth.
The Raspberry Pi can run a camera onboard out of the box it seems so that helps and a normal display can just be put behind a mask. What’s nice is you could use a monochrome camera and display to save a little money and make it look authentic at the same time. The biggest design decisions I see are choosing how and to whom you want to communicate too.
There are cellular modules.
Which are chips on average about one inch/2.5 cm in size, which has every function of a cell phone. This would give you the range of any normal cell phone but you have to pay for a plan to use it. Another benefit is you could use it as a real cellphone but I don’t know enough about that to know if the video part would work with a normal cell.
Another way would be to use Wi-Fi.
This has less range of course but has higher data rates and no plan to pay for which is nice. plus if you get a 900 MHz one they have a nice range inside and outside.
Now who do you want to talk to?
If you want them to only work with other “Farnsworths” you could use push buttons like the prop does. So in this setup Each button would be preset to call one person only. If you want to use it as a normal phone then you’ll have to either give it a number pad or use programed drop down menus.
well that's just my view but hope it helped a little.
The idea I've been toying with (which I feel may seem a little easy... there must be a catch somewhere and there probably is) is to use a USB hub, which would then allow me to 'plug in' various little readily-bought bits. A micro webcam and microphone, laptop speaker and so on. I did find Toshiba made a circular LCD monitor of about the right size.... but only as a concept piece
As to how to make it able to ring people, my 'solution' if it could be termed as such would be to plug in a dongle (is this the cellular module you refer to?) and use it for skype... I suppose it would also be possible to (to take the concept and run with it) add in a micro keyboard into the lid of the case and use it as, in essence, a micro-transportable computer (albeit one without the capability of plugging in external hard drives, printer/scanner/copiers, memory sticks or any other such accesory. But with cloud computing I'm sure this wouldn't be as big a deal as it may appear). But as pointed out there are doubts it could run with a dongle or wireless device.
At the moment I'm seriously looking into it (pricing up bits from Maplins and suchlike), but I somewhat doubt I'll get around to it. Plus of course computer wizardry is not one of my strongpoints.
The Pi will let you use a USB hub with as many connections as you can fit. The programming will also support WiFi and Blue Tooth together. I have also seen dual interfaces connected like dual monitors with cross dragging. Can’t remember where at the moment or I’d provide a link. I really like the idea of a drone though. I hadn’t thought of that. I would love to have something following me with a camera interface through a convention center.