February 28, 2010

A Geek’s Phone

This is a bit random, but I had some spare time this weekend and decided to wire up something semi neat.  First the background:

My wife and I have been cell phone ‘exclusive’ since we were even dating.  I, myself, haven’t had a land line since 1998.  When we got married, it became apparent that we did indeed need a number that could come into the house and not burn up our minutes (parents calling/not understanding what cell phones are for, etc).  So we turned our trusty credit card to Skype and never looked back.  That was in 2003.  Today, we live in Frisco and have been loyal Skype fans for years – even getting thee grandparents into the 21st century with the occasional video chat (although getting them set up each time is a bit of a pain).

I was fortunate to come by some interesting hardware recently, including a very nice Plantronics wireless headset, a Polycom desk phone set (to which the headset can attach) and a Samsung Q1 Ultra – remember the days of the UMPC that Bill Gates is still swearing will arrive any minute?  The Q1 is the most tragically underpowered little device ever, but it comes with its fair share of niceties, namely – two cams, one in front, one in back, multi-touch (sorta) and is about the size of an external USB drive (the old kind).  Enter a bit of customization and poof – geek phone!

First, I wired up a little tiny bit of C# code to integrate with Skype (see this nice read here) so that I could make my Q1 have big touch screen buttons with a bit of WPF fun.  The Skype4Com just plugs right into the installed Skype components.  Next, the Polycom is hooked in to the onboard USB port.  Finally, mount to the wall AKA a ‘land line with bling’ and you’ve got yourself a portable multi-touch Skype appliance thing that can handle the Plantronics headset for ease of roaming with a 2 year old, a snap off attachment to get to wireless-follow-the-kid-around-the-room-web-cam-mode (although you lose the headset when you do that but the Q1 has built in mic and a bluetooth as well as speakers so that’s still covered.

Some future projects include an idea I am kicking around to help the Mrs. in the kitchen – namely a touch screen recipe thing that brings in recipes that we’ve loaded up into SQL Azure (why not) as well as some recipe feeds from around the web.  A little geeky honey do of mine!