Android tablet as a Particle Photon display (with direct connection)?


To keep it simple: imagine a time where the internet didn’t exist, and you could interface a microcontroller with a screen. The screen displays whatever you want from the microcontroller and you can control them both ways.

Now, imagine there’s internet, and in addition to the above, you can do all things internet related.

Now, imagine being able to cater for both scenerios where you don’t have to change your hardware, software and development.

One device to control the project that could connect to the internet in addition to its offline performance. (In this case, connected is preferred, but offline functionality is still possible without having to change the entire project)

It doesn’t have to connect to the cloud for it to be functional. So in this case, it’s ‘just’ a regular non-connected Microcontroller.


That’s the key Douglas @dkryder !
I am developing this system with a photon because I love Partcles’s tooling and want ideally the device to be connected to the internet. I also may have some users that do not have internet connectivity for their devices (whatever the reason, let’s say privacy).
If I fully developed a system with a photon, I would want to reuse the same boards and firmware for these users. That is why I am not using a rasp pi or another hardware that does not come with wifi. I’m saving development and testing time.

Hope that helps, thank you Jordy for nailing the wording


ok, i get that. it just seems to be a very expensive system to offer clients that potentially [if wifi or not] has no cloud benefit and basically offers simple local data collection. no doubt you can offer it i just wonder if it is a cost effective solution for your clients. i think your solution in the U.S. would be at least $200US and based on this specific use case, i.e. no particle cloud needed, could be had for under $50US using other components. but, yeah, go ahead and develop it and best of luck trying to market the simple standalone photon as you describe. :+1: thanks.


Hi Douglas, not trying to be dense here. Just wondering what you are thinking.
What 7" touchscreen display would you get for 31 bucks? (let’s say you dedicate $19 of those $50 for the photon).

From what I see, displays like this one are already over $100:

So my thinking goes like this: if I can buy a tablet for that money or less, I connect it directly to my photon and save the development time on that 4D system display.


i guess my point is do you really need a 7" touchscreen and a photon to offer a simple data collection solution to your clients? apparently you think so. i can understand the idea of staying within the whole hardware family across all solutions you want to offer. it looks slick and it keeps software on the same platform. but, the reality is by doing this some of your offerings will end up being quite expensive for what is offered. so you end up in a certain segment, i.e. for instance simple data collection with no cloud necessary offering a solution that costs more than other available solutions. for instance i could see a small black box with any ports needed as an alternative. customer supplies own tablet, pc, cellphone and connects to small black box as needed. you can have photon or other microprocessor doing the work. the box has ports for sensors. i have no problem with what you want to offer, the whole kit so to speak but i think some of yours offerings could be done in a more cost effective way and get the same job done.


I do not plan to offer data collection. I plan to offer controlling the system in the same way as you would do with a regular display.

One could do that, absolutely.
However, let’s look at an appliance example. I buy a smart oven, it comes with a display already. I can control the oven without any other device. If I wanted to schedule or turn it on from far away, I would do so from my own phone IF I connected it to the internet. The local display is still expected to be there. I don’t think many customers will buy an oven with a black box and a note saying “bring your own phone and connect it here”.
High end ovens in the range of $5k may not benefit from a margin increase of 30 bucks on a display, perhaps.

I’m looking for that nice display that would run Android, connect to my oven without any customers efforts (wired) and sell it like hot cakes! :slight_smile: :cake:

Thank you for your thoughts! You are making me think hard.


yeah, now that i think of it you never said exactly what this standalone photon is suppose to be doing and i assumed some kind of data collection. so with no wifi available and only possible connection via hard wire to any other devices what use cases are you offering to your clients? what will you tell them they can accomplish or what are they asking you solve? thanks


They are asking me to be able to control the system (example: an oven) when they are there and they do not want to use their phone/tablet/laptop.


The 4D displays will allow you to create what ever system you want using their pc based design software and tons of example projects plus active support forum.

Trying to accomplish this same flexibility is going to be much harder via a Android tablet unless your an experienced Android developer.

The 4D displays are expensive but there is a reason they are still around. They have great support behind them.


unless i’m missing something in the event of a bugfix or update your client will have to use something to locally flash the file or will have to turn on wifi and let you try to flash remotely. unless it is possible to add a sd card slot to your device and a routine to your firmware that reads the update file from the sd card and flashes it. i do not know if that is possible. what is your current plan for update/bugfix?
edit: i guess it would be possible to use nfc to get file from a cellphone to your android tablet but you then need a routine to flash to photon which might be possible via serial hardwire. you might want to look at this for either an alternative to photon or inline between tablet-photon,


Thank you Douglas,
From your link and some Google magic I got to these other links:

I appreciate your concern about upgrades. Example: my oven was not updated ever since I bought it years ago, and I’m still cooking with it.


it occurred to me you want to use some high dollar components that will never need any updating to achieve some very basic tasks. this is fine if your clients have cash to spend this way. however it all seems like overkill to me. i mean if you can achieve operating an oven with a used nexus 7 tablet [~40usd] and a FTDI311D [~5usd] plus some basic dyi circuit board [~10usd] why spend mega bucks for a solution offering way more than you will need or use? but as i mentioned before, good luck! :+1: