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Rugged fleet computer runs Android on TI ARM SoC

Aug 22, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Micronet announced the availability of a ruggedized, Android 4.x-based touchscreen fleet computer. The A-307 runs on the ARM Cortex-A8-based TI Sitara AM3715 SoC, and offers a 7-inch resistive WVGA touchscreen, USB and serial connections, and numerous wireless options including WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G radios.

According to Micronet, a subsidiary of Micronet Enertec Technologies (MICT), the local fleet market — think delivery vans and small trucks — is the largest and fastest growing segment in the Mobile Resource Management (MRM) vertical market for vehicular computers. The A-307 targets this market via both direct and OEM sales. The device is billed as a complement to Micronet’s long-haul oriented CE500 series fleet computers, which the company claims has sold in over 100,000 units in the last 18 months.



A-307 fleet computer installed in a vehicle and close-up
(click images to enlarge)

 

Micronet refers to the Texas Instruments system-on-chip inside the A-307 as the OMAP3715, but TI now prefers to call it the Sitara AM3715. Unlike its sibling, the AM3703, the Cortex-A8 based SoC features an integrated 3D graphics processing unit.

Micronet clocks the SoC to 800MHz, and backs it up with 256MB of RAM, 512MB of flash, and an SD card slot that can hold 32GB more. The 7-inch, 800 x 480 touchscreen uses resistive technology, and offers a multi-level backlight. A dozen rubber key inputs are split between the left and right of the screen, and a directional keypad sits underneath, flanked by dual mono speakers.

The device ships in basic and full configurations, with the latter adding a WiFi/Bluetooth module. Other options are split between standard options and OEM options, which require a minimum order quantity for configuration.

Standard I/O includes a USB OTG port, two USB host ports, one of which appears to be the only external port. Also apparently internally mounted are dual RS232 ports and an ignition switch automotive input.

Options that don’t require OEM quantities include 3G modems, GPS, and a vehicle diagnostic unit. The more numerous OEM options include an Ethernet port, audio connections, an RS422 port, a mounting arm, and various digital and analog I/O ports.

The 700-gram, 225 x 162 x 53mm (8.8 x 6.4 x 2.1-inch) system offers IP54 ingress protection and J1455-compliant shock and vibration resistance. Operating temperatures are said to range from -20 to 70°C.

The A-307 debuts a Micronet cloud-based “software as a service” feature called Guardian System Design (GSDTM) that Micronet says it “will be offering for the first time to its customers on a recurring revenue basis.” GSDTM features are said to include remote mobile device management, software and hardware self-diagnostics and recovery, and fail-safe firmware and application over-the-air (OTA) updates.

An Android 4.x software development kit (SDK) is provided that includes software tools, API, and documentation, says Micronet. A similar Windows version is also said to be available.

Specifications listed for the Micronet A-307 include:

  • Processor — TI OMAP 3715 (1x Cortex-A8 @ 800MHz with 3D GPU)
  • Memory –256MB RAM, 512MB flash; SD slot (up to 32GB)
  • Display — 7-inch, 800 x 480, 4-wire resistive touchscreen; multi-level backlight with OEM-optional light sensor
  • Wireless (“full” model only):
    • 802.11b/g/n
    • Bluetooth with OEM-optional voice support
    • optional third-party 3.5G EVDO or GPRS modems
    • optional third-party GPS
  • Networking — OEM-optional 10/100 Ethernet
  • I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host (500mA max.; only 1x on device panel)
    • USB OTG
    • 2x RS232 (1x 5-wire, 1x 3-wire), or replace 1x with OEM-optional RS422
    • Automotive input (for ignition switch)
    • OEM-optional DIO (open collector)
    • OEM-optional analog input (0V-30V)
    • OEM-optional 1-wire (Dallas ID memory button support)
  • Other features:
    • Backlit rubber tactile keypad
    • Mono speaker (2x 1W 90 dB nominal @ 0.1m) with multi-level volume control
    • OEM-optional microphone
    • OEM-optional mic-in and line-out
    • Optional RAM Mount mounting arm
    • Optional CAN/J1708/OBD II vehicle diagnostic unit
    • Optional I/O cable, SD slot cover, customized front-panel labeling, etc.
    • Optional GSDTM SaaS remote management, diagnostic, and OTA services
  • Power — 12V/24V from vehicle battery (ISO 7637); super capacitor protection against abrupt power cut-off; optional wall- and lighter adapters
  • Ruggedization:
    • IP54 compliant (ingress)
    • Vibration and shock resistance — J1455 compliant
    • Operating temperature — -20 to 70°C
  • Weight — 700 g (24.7 oz.)
  • Dimensions — 225 x 162 x 53mm (8.8 x 6.4 x 2.1 inches)
  • Operating system — Android 4.x

The A-307 is available now at an unstated price. More information may be found at Micronet’s website, in its A-307 announcement.
 

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