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mPrinter – The future printer for a digital world

By Rohit Ramesh on Tuesday 21st of Aug 2012

http://gdgt.ro/3941


 

There is a new innovation making waves nowadays.  For people who think that printing is all about bulky machines and inconvenience, the mPrinter is the answer. The mPrinter is an innovation by Andy Muldowney, a technology veteran with loads of experience in hardware design, Web programming and iOS development under his belt.

Now, coming to the mPrinter, it is basically a small portable thermal printer that prints dynamic snippets of information known as mPrints. The mPrints can consist of simple text, HTML or images created from a custom hosted Javascript environment on the website belonging to Andy and his team. At the most basic level, anything that can be displayed on a webpage can be printed.

The mPrinter can be classified into two categories:

  • USB-only mPrinters : As the name suggests, connect to one’s computer via USB.
  • Wi-Fi mPrinter: A small built-in web server is present and it enables the user to connect to a network.

All the models of the mPrinter have a built-in charging facility and also have a battery compartment for a Lithium ion polymer battery (optional). Moreover, the print heads currently being used are 2 inches wide. However, Andy Muldowney plans to upgrade them subsequently to 3 inches if the funding they avail is more than their targeted amount of 20,000 dollars.

In the case of dynamic mPrints, a sandboxed Node.js environment is utilized. Also, if one enables the feature of outside interaction, then a URL is assigned to each mPrint. The URL can then be used by external services to interface with the mPrint. Andy and his team have also developed various prototypes based on the Arduino, Microchip PIC32 and PIC24F microcontrollers. But, according to him, before arriving on the final platform choice, a community feedback would be evaluated.

As far as the production of the mPrinter is concerned, suppliers from China will provide parts like the thermal print head and parts of control board and the circuit board. All the other auxiliary electronic items will be sourced from a US-based distributor. The prints used in this project were specifically selected for their current as well as voltage specifications so as to allow for battery power. An interesting feature is that the battery power will allow the user to use his/her mPrinter with a device like an iPhone, when combined with an ad hoc network.

For those of you wondering if the thermal printer is just used to print receipts, it is worth noting the fact that the underlying hardware is capable of printing more than just numbers and also, the print heads being used in this case have over 200 dots per inch (DPI) resolution. This resolution gives a crisp and a clear text.

This terrific innovation is currently being backed by Kickstarter.com and as of now has over 300 backers and an amount of over $40,000 has already been pledged. We are waiting eagerly for this wonderful innovation to hit the market and prove its mettle.

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