Cstick Cotton Candy Available Now to All Global Developers

The highly anticipated Cstick™ Cotton Candy™ any screen microcomputer development platform has passed CE and FCC certification and is available now for sale and immediate delivery to global software, hardware and system developers.

“The demand for Cotton Candy as a platform for mobile enterprise clients, mobile entertainment systems or as a generic computer within a wide range of industry niches including security, health, public sector, digital signage, etc. has been enormous,” said Borgar Ljosland, FXI CEO.  “These companies wish to provide a secure, mobile computing experience that meets their unique brand profile within a custom and controlled computing environment.”

More than just a device that targets making TVs “Smart”, FXI’s Cotton Candy allows any Intel processor based laptop or PC with a USB connection to be used as a thin client to the Android or Linux Ubuntu operating systems running on the Cotton Candy. Now users can enjoy a familiar computing experience on any system, while surfing the Internet freely, using typical programs and accessing sensitive files without the concern of intermingling data or leaving behind personal files and passwords.  The benefits of these features are particularly interesting to companies with apps or services that are to be experienced on multiple screens and across eco-system barriers.

Today, Cstick Cotton Candy development unit specifications include an ARM® Cortex™-A9 (dual-core) CPU, an ARM Mali™-400 MP (quad-core) GPU, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, HDMI output, a USB and Micro USB connector, a Micro USB slot and the open source Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system that is downloadable to the provided microSD card.  To see a demonstration video of Cotton Candy used as an Android Debug Bridge on a laptop, visit: http://youtu.be/a-QSfEkpwJk.

Cstick Cotton Candy development platform and accompanying debug board can be immediately purchased at the Cstick Store. There is no restriction on who can purchase the product, however, it is important to understand the early development platform is not intended or recommended for consumer use.

Additionally, developers are highly encouraged to join the Cstick Developer Community (www.cstick.com) to share project progress, garner technical information, browse how-to videos and get the latest product updates and downloads.

About FXI

FXI Technologies www.fxitech.com is a Norway-based hardware and software platform company dedicated to providing a consistent, personal and secure computing experience across the world of digital screens.

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 FXI Technologies and Cotton Candy are trademarks or registered trademarks of FXI Technologies.  All other trademarks or trade names are the property of their respective owners.

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Where’s My Candy?

The Cstick Cotton Candy development units are delayed beyond the original March ship date, due to some hardware modifications and extended software testing.   Scandanavian pre-orders start shipping this month, with the balance of the pre-orders shipping throughout the Summer.  At this time, pre-orders are closed as we have gone beyond our expected volume of orders.

Below is further explanation about the status of the Cstick Cotton Candy any screen micro-computer.  

1. Hardware – FXI decided to change the plastic cover on the device.  This change has allowed us to also add a micro USB port for adding more input devices and peripherals. The new plastic also enhances the durability of the product. We have included some photos of the final plastics and packaging taken right off of our production line.  It’s looking great!  Cotton Candy will be very nice to carry in a purse, briefcase or pocket and will remain protected with its’ rubber USB and HDMI covers.

2. Software – FXI’s engineering team is in the process of completing the evaluation and testing of the most recent release of the Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS.

3. Where’s my candy?  - Development units will begin shipping this month and the balance of the orders will be fulfilled throughout the Summer. Orders are being delivered first to those in our hometown of Norway and Scandinavia, closely followed by other geographical regions. You will be notified by email when your pre-order is ready to ship, and at that time, you will be asked to pay for the device.  Be sure to respond promptly!

FXI Cotton Candy branded consumer device delivery will be better estimated as we move forward in the development process, therefore at this time we do not wish to estimate an exact date.

4. As we mentioned before, Cotton Candy will be priced under $200.   However, when considering Cotton Candy is the most robust micro computer introduced that packs the productivity and entertainment benefits of a tablet, laptop, mobile phone and a set top box all in one portable package – Cotton Candy is sure to impress your technology sweet tooth.

The Cstick Cotton Candy platform brings immense value to a variety of consumer electronics devices and markets, including but not limited to, Cloud Service Partners, Content and Game Publishers, IPTV and OTT Operators, Mobile Device Vendors, Mobile Operators, Mobile Phone Makers, and PC Makers.   Therefore, in addition to the FXI Cotton Candy, we expect a variety of unique OEM branded products will be making their way to market in different form factors.

At FXI, we strive to provide you with the most complete version of the product that you were expecting, and for that reason delays have happened.   We hope this helps clarify the current status of deliveries.  Please keep an eye out in the next few weeks for photos and video from the lab.  Ongoing updates will be available via our newsletter, the FXI blog, on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and within the Cotton Candy community – www.cstick.com.

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An Open Platform – Aren’t We Lucky!

In our last marketing blog we were in a somewhat nostalgic mood referring back to the old Commodore 64 days. Today’s topic is platform. More specifically open platform. What difference can it make, compared the opposite – a closed platform?

Again I am going to head back into history.  You may call this a morbid blog, as this story also involves the perishing of the Swedish automobile company SAAB.

SAAB was well recognized as an innovative and leading-edge technology adopter, that introduced many of today’s standard automotive features, starting with the seat belt (http://www.saabsunited.com/2005/12/saab-innovations.html).

By 1990 in the midst of a changing industry, SAAB became a part of General Motors where the new parent company chose to design cars based on a GM platform.  Three years later when cars came off the line, loyal SAAB customers were disappointed and no longer considered SAAB in the class of BMW or Mercedes Benz.

The story ends with SAAB, limited by its GM platform, was no longer able to capitalize from the strength of individuality and innovativeness that made them who they are. It is a painful lesson of business cruelty that a company with such engineering skills and enthusiasm was tied to a closed platform.

Unlike in car business, aren’t we lucky we have open platforms in computing industry?!  What a great benefit it is for start-up companies, new R&D projects, public sector, government organizations etc. to have a freedom of choice without paying any licensing fees and royalties. What a brilliant opportunity for any individual architect, designer, developer alone or within a company to exploit their creativeness and skills.

The FXI Cstick Cotton Candy is totally open platform!

Feel free to develop and ship content for it. Deploy your own services to enterprises and individuals. But if you like you can leave it open and that is only a start. The development doesn’t have to stop when the end user gets Cotton Candy – they can create their own solutions as well. At the end of the day the limitation is not tools, not operating systems, not screen size, not money – It is your own imagination.

Put the platform in your pocket!

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Cotton Candy – Yeah, it does that too!

“I have pre-ordered the FXI Cotton Candy any screen micro computer…. Sweeeeet! But I have questions about how it works….”

One thing is certain, the demand for Cotton Candy has been incredibly high. Some people find the technology and the concept so intriguing that they actually have ordered the device without even looking at the specs – which is also OK with us!

To clarify – this post is aimed at demystifying the product and it’s use in a summarized and clear fashion.

So let’s get started: With physical measurements: 8cm x 2.5cm and only 21 grams, FXI Cotton Candy contains the most processing power per cubic inch of any other computer on the market. To put it further into perspective – the length and size of Cotton Candy is approximately equal to that of an average adult index finger, except for rectangular in design. (I know this because I am an average guy and it matches almost exactly the length of my index finger.)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, however a technical spec is worth 2000 – so we have one here:

1. HDMI
2. Bluetooth connect button
3. Reset button
4. Double-Cap Cover
5. USB 2.0 male
6. Micro SD slot
7. Micro USB 2.0 female

So, we have HDMI with Full HD support for outputting video and audio to any screen.  We also have two magic buttons in our little computer:

1. A quick Bluetooth connect button, which enables the user to connect to a Bluetooth Mouse and Keyboard with one press
2. And a “hidden” reset button

Additionally, an elastic double-cap cover protects Cotton Candy, for example, from the hazards of a pocket or handbag or pocket full of keys, lint, pens, coins, gum & mobile phones.

The USB 2.0 male connector has caused some confusion.  It serves two different purposes. The first is to provide power to Cotton Candy, while the other and more unique purpose is to allow interoperability with a PC. In the case of power, Cotton Candy follows the USB 2.0 spec, which means that it will operate correctly provided a minimum of 5V@500mA, something that any device with a standard USB port can provide.

The second use case, however, is made possible through FXI’s patented technology allowing any computer supporting USB storage to function as a client; making it possible to interact directly with Cotton Candy through the computer’s keyboard, mouse and screen, effectively bypassing (or complementing) the CPU, storage and OS of the computer itself.

Here is how it works:

Plug Cotton Candy into the USB port of any Linux, Mac or Windows computer and instantly access either Android or Ubuntu Operating System’s. Use the computer keyboard and mouse to control your Cotton Candy! Have your private and secure computer on any computer, or Multi OS, or all in one media storage and player and so on.

The Cotton Candy micro computer does not have a screen or a keyboard or integrated input device, but peripheral possibilities are expanded with Micro USB. Visualize it as a USB port in any other computer and you’ve got it – plug in webcams, digital cameras, external keyboard and mouse, printer/scanner or even Ethernet to USB adapter. If one port is not enough, the amount of peripherals can be increased with a USB hub or docking station.

It wouldn’t be a computer without storage though, right? Therefore we have a card slot for Micro SD Digital High Capacity (SDHC) v.2.0 supporting up to 64GB of storage. Insert your card and use it as you would in any other computer or mobile phone. But there is more.

Use multiple SD cards to house multiple OS – for instance one Android and one Linux. With Cotton Candy any screen micro computer you can boot from separate Micro SDs.  Not only is this really cool, you get multiple computers from one piece of hardware and two SD cards.

So, you think, Cotton Candy has it all.  Will it make coffee?  Work as a personal Taser?  House a Swiss Army Knife?  Perhaps not.

In summary, as a fully capable computer, Cotton Candy integrates wireless connectivity with Wifi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, again, working in a similar fashion as in any other computer platforms. Multiple OS are supported on different SD cards and the first product will have , 1 GB DRAM, near unlimited peripheral support, an Internet connection, device to device communication – you name it.  The tiny Cotton Candy can nearly do it all, in a tiny little form factor.

NOTE:   Taser functionality, Swiss Army Knife and coffee makers will not be present in the first version of Cotton Candy.   In a future post, we will further examine the uniqueness of Cotton Candy’s patented USB functionality…  Thank you for visiting us!

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The Evolution of the Form Factor – Is Cotton Candy the New Commodore 64?

Now is a time to reflect upon on the form factor of the personal computer. Computer legend and gaming pioneer Jack Tramiel died last month at the age of 83.

Jack was an immense influence in the consumer electronics and computing industries. In a recent Forbes article, Martin Goldberg, video game and computer history book author said, “Jack Tramiel was an immense influence in the consumer electronics and computing industries. A name once uttered in the same vein as Steve Jobs is today.”

Jack’s company Commodore developed and sold, in 1980s thorough out the 1990s, the Commodore 64 computer, which today still stands as the highest selling single computer of all time. It was truly a “computer for the masses,” added Goldberg.

At its peak when Commodore 64 was the leading computer, it also had form factor on it’s side. Unlike the old PC’s, you could actually take Commodore 64 with you when visiting a friend’s house and enjoy playing the most advanced games – together. The carry on packaging wasn’t easy though -you had to bring the powersupply, disc drive, gaming controls, cables and discs. It took some effort however the reward was to play your games, with your friends on their TV. Some could say Commodore 64 was actually the ‘any screen’ computer of its time.

Then came the laptops, mobile phones, tablets etc. All of them are solid performing portable computers with a fixed screen size. Whereas desktop PCs remained as something largely kept stationary, with most hoping to never have to again lug the pile of equipment from room to room or place to place.

For 20 years we have been carrying a screen with our computer. It has been so long that we actually have become used to it – a screen that easily breaks, a screen that loses it’s colors and brightness, a screen that becomes obsolete, a screen that is the most expensive single component in a computer, a screen that is extra weight and a screen that often dictates the usability and capability of the device itself.

One might ask if that screen is really necessary? Why can’t we just shrink the Commodore 64 equivalent into a modern world version and use that instead?

Oh wait, we did! Now with the FXI Cotton Candy any screen computer this is happening, and much, much more…

By removing the screen from the computer, we can take the computer to any screen – one might say, we have brought the portable form factor back to computing.

Any screen. Any app. Any OS. Any input device. Any place. Any time.

Sweeeeet!

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Cotton Candy is Red Hot!

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 – iwantcandy@fxitech.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.

A 5. Email fxilabs@fxitech.com.

Q 6.  I am a reviewer, and would l like to review Cotton Candy.  Do you have any media photos or information?

A 6.  Email kim.stowe@fxitech.com to be added to the reviewer list and to get more details about Cotton Candy.

Q 7. Will you be at CES?

A 7.  FXI will be at CES taking private meetings with select partners and customers.

Q 8. I am interested selling or distributing Cotton Candy.

A 8.  Email sales@fxitech.com.

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.

Warm regards,

Kim Stowe

Director of Marketing

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Start spreading the news

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.
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