The University of Southampton

ECS students aiming for Kickstarter success with OSCAR

Published: 1 March 2014

Three ECS students have launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to mass produce their super-high resolution open source screen adapter - OSCAR.

Freddie Temperton, Adam Gryko and Will Bright, who are all in the second year of their MEng programme in Electronic Engineering at ECS, have devised and prototyped the product; their team is completed by Ali Lown, Lead Software Developer, who is studying at Imperial College London. They are hoping that the value of the new product, described in their slick video, will help them move towards their funding goal of at least £15,000.

OSCAR is an adapter that allows you to connect a super high resolution 9.7” screen, often found in tablets, to your computer. It comes pre-connected to the LCD panel ready to be attached and is compatible with all operating systems using a Thunderbolt or DisplayPort connection.

The board is Arduino compatible which makes modifying the behaviour easy and all the software and hardware is open source. The particular display used with OSCAR is the one most commonly found in the iPad 3 and 4, marketed as the 'Retina Display' and, according to the team’s website, has a whopping 2048x1536 pixels. This gives it an amazing pixel density of 264ppi (pixels per inch) and glorious colours. The team have designed a case in laser-cut clear acrylic which also enhances the display by putting it in an equally clean-looking surround.

The team suggest possible uses of OSCAR, including high resolution photo and video editing; watching high definition video; a portable second monitor for your laptop; gaming; colour sensitive work; PDF reading; and any Arduino project imaginable!

According to the team OSCAR takes care of driving the LED backlight and regulating the panel power supply. With the onboard ATmega32U4, the device is Arduino compatible and acts like an Arduino Leonardo. This enables USB communications so that you can use OSCAR to control elements such as backlight brightness and enables you to expand the functionality of OSCAR. Adding an IR receiver for control or adding an IMU board to automatically rotate the screen are all possible.

The team add: ‘We are sparing no expense when it comes to manufacturing. OSCAR will be produced in the UK with the PCBs being made and assembled nearby, and a London-based laser cutting company will produce the cases. The kits will be assembled, personally tested and shipped from Southampton, making sure we uphold quality throughout the product.’

In addition to the video the team’s website also provides a full description of the product. The students are already over 40 per cent of the way towards their goal with 20 days remaining ... watch this space!!!

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