ESR Labs - a small company specialising in software for embedded computing systems - has unveiled a project which could give Google's high-price Nexus Q a run for its money: Android Transporter.
Heavily inspired by Apple's AirPlay technology, Android Transporter allows an Android-based smartphone or tablet to stream content wirelessly for display on a big-screen monitor, projector or HDTV.
Previously developed as a proof-of-concept demonstration which streamed the video and audio from one Nexus S smartphone to another over Wi-Fi - for no real reason other than to show it can be done - the project has received a major boost in the form of the Raspberry Pi single-board computer. Thanks to the Pi's low cost and surprising graphics capabilities, the ESR Labs team has been able to port Android Transporter across - creating a device which rivals the Nexus Q media streamer but at a fraction of the cost.
Using a Raspberry Pi running a customised operating system and a copy of the Android Transporter software, the team has been able to stream live video to an external monitor with a 150ms delay. While that makes it unsuitable for most games, it's perfect for presentations, web browsing or video playback - and ESR's Daniel Himmelein claims that work is ongoing to reduce the latency to below 100ms.
Currently, the software only supports mirroring of the smartphone or tablet's display. A future release, Himmelein has confirmed, will include a dual-screen mode where the smartphone can retain its existing display while using the external monitor for simultaneous video playback.
Projects like the Android Transporter and a similar - highly successful - effort to implement AirPlay streaming in the Xbmc media centre software prove that the Raspberry Pi can have a practical use, as well as being a popular choice for hackers and tinkerers. Whether it will ever truly cut into the sales of devices like the $299 Nexus Q and $99 Apple TV, however, remains to be seen.
If you're curious as to how well Android Transporter runs on the Raspberry Pi in its current incarnation, check out the video demo below.