Touchstone v2 will communicate its identity, probably isn't NFC | webOS Nation
 
 

Touchstone v2 will communicate its identity, probably isn't NFC

by Derek Kessler Fri, 18 Feb 2011 9:40 pm EST

During the Think Beyond presentation, HP SVP Jon Rubinstein mentioned that devices like the HP Veer, Pre 3, and TouchPad would be context-aware of which Touchstone charge they were sitting on and what Exhibition behavior you wanted. We were puzzled by this, and were assured it wasn’t through GPS. Turns out the FCC filing for the Veer may have spoiled some of the magic.

As Rod Whitby of WebOS Internals uncovered, the Veer’s integrated Touchstone coils operate at the frequencies of 118.5KHz and 3.1MHz. That’s a lot of juice, but it’s curious that there are two frequencies at play here. Enter Joe Sacher, webOS community member and oscilloscope owner and operator. Mr. Sacher sat down and put the oscilloscope to work on his first-generation Touchstone, finding that its magical inductive charging voodoo operated at a frequency around 122KHz.

That identifies the 118.5KHz frequency of the Veer back as being the charging coils, and then there’s the question of the much higher frequency 3.1MHz coil. What’s that for? It was epiphany time: that’s a communication coil, and it’s how the Veer identifies which Touchstone it’s on. Reasonable speculation and conjecture follows that a Touchstone v2 dock would have a similar 3.1MHz coil to facilitate that communication, thus identifying which charger it is. Before you get fearful about that stockpile of Touchstones you have scattered about your daily existence, Sacher reasons that the old and new charging frequencies are close enough together that they should be interoperable, though older devices on new Touchstones won’t be able to receive the identifying communiqués, and new devices on old Touchstones won’t have anything to listen to.

We spoke with HP at Mobile World Congress and confirmed all of the above (minus the specific frequency stuff): There will be a new version of the Touchstone and while everything will charge everything else (excepting the TouchPad Touchstone and the TouchPad, natch), only the new Touchstones and the Pre 3 and Veer will be able to handle the location-specific Exhibition feature. We asked if this Touchstone identity technology was Near Field Communication (NFC) and the answer was no - an answer that makes sense given that NFC uses a 13.56MHz radio frequency.

While we wonder why HP decided against NFC for the Tap-to-Share functionality from TouchPad to Phone, we're also wondering why no Tap-to-Share from phone to phone? Android phones will soon be able to use NFC and Bluetooth for peer-to-peer sharing.

In any case, the new Touchstones weren't yet on display either at Think Beyond or at Mobile World Congress, so you have new another product from HP to look forward to in the coming months.