New York, NY and Trondheim, Norway – November 17, 2011 – FXI Technologies, a hardware and software startup based in Trondheim Norway, demonstrated today the world’s first any screen, connected computing USB device. Codenamed “Cotton Candy”, this sweet little device serves as a technology bridge between any display, the Cloud, and any input peripheral.
The vision for Cotton Candy is to allow users a single, secure point of access to all personal Cloud services and apps through their favorite operating system, while delivering a consistent experience on any screen. The device will serve as a companion to smartphones, tablets, notebook PC and Macs, as well add smart capabilities to existing displays, TVs, set top boxes and game consoles.
“Today’s device functionality is often limited by the size of the screen it inhabits,” said Borgar Ljosland, founder and CEO of FXI Technologies. “We’ve turned things upside down, eliminating the screen and delivering the power of a PC and the web to any screen.”
Cotton Candy is a prototype USB stick equipped with an ARM® Cortex™-A9 (1.2GHz) CPU, an ARM Mali™-400 MP (Quad-core) GPU, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, HDMI output and the Android operating system. It decodes MPEG-4, H.264 and other video formats and display HD graphics on any HDMI equipped screen. Content is then accessed through a secure FXI web portal and can be controlled via smartphones, keyboards, mice and other USB peripherals.
“By leveraging the strengths of ARM CPU and GPU cores, FXI has packed an amazing amount of computing horsepower into a completely new form factor,” said Pete Hutton, general manager of multimedia processor division, ARM. “Weighing only 21 grams and so energy-efficient that it can be powered from a USB port, the Cotton Candy offers a unique consumer experience, which will bring Cloud computing to almost any screen.”
FXI’s Cotton Candy plans to:
Provide consumer-friendly access to the Cloud.
Accelerate the adoption of “smart screens”.
Extend the life of consumer hardware like laptops, monitors, TVs, set top boxes, tablets and more by accessing the latest OS, software and apps.
Create a single point of content storage.
Consolidation and organization of personal digital content.
Share media from mobile devices on large screens and projectors – videos, movies, photos, games and more.
Drive down the cost of computing, allowing more people to have a personal, secure computer.
“With the broad acceptance of Cloud computing and the advancement in processor technologies, the concept of a “screenless PC” is a natural evolution in the form factor of computing devices,” said Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie and Associates. “The connectivity, flexibility and multi-screen compatibility of FXI’s Cotton Candy makes it like a computer built specifically for the Cloud.”
About the Demonstration
FXI demonstrated Cotton Candy for the first time by connecting it via HDMI to a 42” HDTV running Android and displaying YouTube videos and 3D games. Then, they switched to a word processing and spread sheet application. Next, they unplugged Cotton Candy from the TV and connected it via USB to a Windows and then a Mac laptop to play Angry Birds on the Android OS.
“The laptop use case shows how with FXI’s patent protected Any Screen Virtualization Protocol, Cotton Candy can take over a host device’s screen to display Internet connected content,” said Ljosland. “We believe these usage scenarios will be easily adopted by consumers and FXI’s USB connected computing devices will make an ideal companion for the multitude of digital devices and screens people touch daily.”
The implications of a connected companion device are broad and have yet to fully be discovered. “Imagine any screen being a window to your digital world,” added Ljosland. The possibilities are endless.”
Currently FXI Tech is sampling prototypes to key OEM partners from the set top box, memory, PC, mobile phone, appliance, in-car entertainment and other industries. Consumer pricing has not yet been established, but product is expected to be available in volumes the second half of 2012. OEMs interested in sampling the device may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
FXI Technologies (www.fxitech.com) is a Norway-based hardware and software startup dedicated to making the world of digital screens smart and personal. Follow FXI on Twitter @FXITECH.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted us in the past few weeks about the Cotton Candy prototype we demonstrated in New York City. We knew we had something hot on our hands, but the response has been overwhelming. Potential applications for the product have been voluminous, ranging from fitness and nutrition, video gaming, streaming media, low cost computing, legal systems, in-store display management and many, many more.
Our story took the servers down of a prominent mobile news website and was the best ranking story of all time. And developers, potential partners and retailers have reached out from around the globe, including South America, Europe, Asia, the United States and more. Many of the questions we have received have been the same. So we’ve compiled them here for you with a few simple answers.
Q 1. I want Cotton Candy now.
A 1. Cotton Candy will be available in Q1 2012 in limited quantities for developers. Consumer devices are anticipated to hit the market in Q3 2012. Join our mailing list for notification – email@example.com; and visit www.fxitech.com for updates.
Q 2. How much will Cotton Candy cost?
A 2. First run products will sell for well under $200
Q 3. How do I control a Cotton Candy device connected to a screen?
A 3. Cotton Candy supports USB, Bluetooth and wireless, so a variety of peripheral devices, mice, keyboards, remote controls and more. Additionally, a SmartPhone with an appropriate app can be used as a remote control.
Q 4. How can I become a developer? How can I get a development unit?
A 4. Join our email list (on the FXI home page) for product updates and to be notified of our development program.
Q 5. I am interested in a technology partnership with FXI.
We are doing our best to handle the volume of messages in a timely and considerate fashion. However, be sure to check back regularly for updates, or follow FXI on Twitter @FXITech, Google+ and on Facebook.
“The device is designed to work on anything with a screen and USB port—TVs, laptops, smart phones, anything. You can hook it up to a HDTV and stream 1080p videos from the net. When you hook it up to a computer, either Windows or Mac, it will run android applications in a secure window—essentially creating a dumb terminal.”
“The whole idea by FXI here is to allow you to convert your TV or laptop to a Android device; though FXI did mention an Ubuntu version is in the works and didn’t rule out Windows either. This effectively makes the Cotton Candy the world’s smallest computer.”
“We’ve seen “PC on a stick” products before, but the HDMI port helps make the Cotton Candy stand out. Attach a monitor to the HDMI port and a power supply to the USB jack and y0u’re up and running. Adding to the feature set is a microSD slot, and integrated Wi-Fi and BlueTooth radios; these wireless options provide both connectivity and support for a keyboard or a mouse.”
“We got a look at the powerful little USB stick this evening, and it’s a fairly interesting device. When plugged into the MacBook Air’s USB port, Android 2.3 launched in a separate window and we were able to play Angry Birds using the touchpad. The set up makes it quite easy to jump back and forth between Android and OS X. We didn’t get too much of a demo of it plugged into a TV, but we saw the founder of the company navigating Android on the big screen using a Bluetooth keyboard and it looked fairly smooth.”
“From developers to students to mobile workers, there are a number of groups that could find innovative ways to use a computer the size of a USB stick. However, you won’t see a consumer product shipping anytime soon from FXI. The company plans to sell the Cotton Candy to developers and let OEMs license the technology and turn it into something that can appeal to a wide audience.”
“FXI is a new player in the market, but the founder was previously the brains behind Falanx, which created the technology that powers ARM’s Mali GPUs. It’s working with various manufacturers with the aim of partnering up to get the devices into stores in the second half of next year, the expected cost being under $200 — although we’d pay more if they threw in a bag of the real, teeth-destroying stuff.”
As Kim and I stand here in New York demonstrating our sweet little Cotton Candy to the world, I realize that we do need to offer an explanation of the name. The reason is that it was the most similar existing object that describes somewhat what it is doing: a stick connecting a cloud to your hand!
Today there are as many screens as there are people on the planet, however, while population growth is declining the number of screens are increasing. With this growth of screens the complexity of the various systems driving them, semi conductors, cables, eco-systems, operating systems, service channels, payment models, etc. also increase.
At the same time we see that we want to use these screens the same way. We want to check our Facebook, post our Tweats, read our e-mail, find the closest restaurant, watch movies, play games and check stock quotes. There is certainly an app for everything, and we want these apps to be everywhere.
But for an App developer to be able to support all these “screens” one need to port to iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, bunch of proprietary Smart TV and Set-Top-Box OSes and whatnot. And all of these have different APIs, graphics accelerators, memory configurations, CPU performance, media accelerators etc. which makes it impossible to create an App with the same experience on every screen. This fragmentation has plagued developers and consumers alike for as long as there has been computing, and now that computing is going into absolutely everything so does the fragmentation.
So what do we do about this. In order to have a consistent user experience on all of your screens you need to acquire a multitude of expensive devices each year ( or the same rate as you buy your Smartphones) in order to be “up to date” and be able to access the latest and greatest Apps. Or, you can spend a little on a smart, connected companion device that works on all of your existing screens, or most other screens that you encounter. We are working hard to make this choice real.