Nokia Medallion I

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WHAT’S
HOT

   First of all, the Nokia Medallion’s primary function
is style and self expression. It doesn’t make phone calls or take pictures
or keep track of your schedule. It’s a beautiful futuristic necklace
with a color screen for showing off personalized images. While you’re
wearing it, the backlight fades it’s intensity in and out at random
intervals. You can beam any images you desire to the necklace from an
infrared compatible device such as certain camera phones and PDAs.

  
Since the Medallion I doesn’t really go with any of my outfits, we loaned
this prototype to our fashion maven friend, Paris Hampton, to wear to
the Grammy Awards February 8th (even though she’d be missing a few NYC
Fashion week parties). The necklace garnered much attention as
many people asked what it was.  Even at the after party, our fashion
maven was monopolized by members of Matchbox 20.  I’m not sure
if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but Paris definitely thought
that the integration of technology and fashion design was an exciting
concept. She said that the Medallion was "super cool", and
numerous others seem to share this sentiment.


PRODUCT
FEATURES

    This choker style necklace is made with
a steel body, plastic, matte rubber, and a steel chain. It’s got
an infrared port which will let you transfer images to or from other
infrared capable devices such as camera phones and personal digital
assistants. The color screen displays 4096 colors and has a square 96
x 96 pixel resolution.  The production version will have a 80 mAh
rechargeable lithium-ion that should last up to 15 hours. I was told
that this prototype did not have nearly as much battery life as the
final version will have. During our tests with this version, the battery
lasted throughout the Grammy awards show and after party, however, the
battery life seems to be reduced drastically if you are beaming images
back and forth via infrared.


   
The Medallion features a number of low-profile buttons on the sides
and top of the device.  The above diagram shows where the buttons
are located along with the infrared port.  Holding down Button
3 for over a second toggles the power on/off state of the device. 
Pressing it briefly once will show an analog-style clock on screen along
with the battery indicator.


    
Pressing Button 1 will toggle the display between the other images stored
in memory, while pressing it briefly will turn the backlight on. Button
2 activates the infrared sending and receiving capabilities of the necklace.


The following
table illustrates the meanings of the icons displayed by the Medallion
when interacting with it’s software.

The
red lines animate towards the left when receiving mode is on. 
They animate towards the right when sending mode is on.
An
infrared connection is made and data is being transferred.

Connection was lost.

Confirms that the images have been successfully sent, received
or deleted.
The
memory in Medallion I is full.  The Medallion I can store
up to eight images.
The
image is not supported by Medallion I. It is, for example, too
large or not in the compatible JPEG format. The IR connection
is terminated.  I’ve found that this icon also appears if
your infrared connection is not stable during the image transfer.
The
battery is charging.

Medallion I is starting to delete an image.

   
The Medallion I has 1 MB flash memory and 2 MB SRAM to store up to
8 images.  It supports JPGs, and if you beam one that’s larger
than 96×96 pixels it will crop and/or resize the image to display
on it’s screen.  I recommend resizing/cropping your images before
hand so as to make sure you get the area that you want to display. 

    
The charging plug is hidden behind one of the matte rubber ends of
the necklace.  The rubber pieces are detachable via a bayonet-style
twist which is also how you put the necklace around your neck. 
This is a very innovative and clean design in my opinion.

SYSTEM
REQUIREMENTS

   
While the Nokia Medallion I can function by itself and comes with 3
images preloaded, you need a compatible device in order to add your
own images.  The Nokia products listed as compatible are: the Nokia
3200, 3650, 3660, 5140, 6220, 6230, 6600, 6650, 6810, 6820, 7200, 7600,
7650, 9210, 9210i phones, Nokia Image Frame (SU-4 and SU-7), Nokia Medallion
I and II, and Nokia Kaleidoscope I.  However, the device should
work fine with most other Infrared capable devices including Windows
2000/XP PCs, and Pocket PCs.  It worked fine with my Windows Mobile
2003 XDA 2. 

BUGS
AND WISHES

    I do believe this is quite an innovative
product, but still there are a few minor annoyances. While having Infrared
as the method of image transfer does allow the device to work with a
greater variety of devices, it is a bit annoying to have to line up
a line-of-sight connection and hold the device in place until the transfer
is complete, especially if some one is wearing it at the time. A Bluetooth
file transfer interface would have been much cooler. 

   
The clock is a nice feature, but you can’t see it while wearing the
necklace… and if you look in a mirror to see the time, it’s backwards!
I think the only real useful function for the clock feature is if some
one else asks you what time it is, then they can read it off your necklace. 

   
Another feature that might be nice for future versions would be the
support for looping animated GIFs as well as an automatic swapping of
images.  As it is now, you have to press a button in order to swap
images stored in memory.

PURCHASING

    The Nokia Medallion I is not available for
purchase at the time of this writing.  Nokia expects to sell the
device for about $399.  Wired Magazine reported that it would sell
for about $300.
L8Shop
in the UK is expecting to sell it for about $63.98.
Club Nokia
is selling it for $243.12 USD equivalent. Availability
is expected to be during the spring of 2004.

PROS

  • Beautiful
    design
  • Innovative
    integration of fashion and technology
  • Very
    attention getting
  • Great
    way to personalize an outfit

CONS

  • Might
    be expensive
  • Infrared
    file transfer can be difficult
  • No
    Bluetooth
  • No
    animation support

OVERALL
IMPRESSION

   Just about every single person who saw this necklace
had at least two questions: What is it? and.. How much does it cost?
Many were disappointed when I told them it wasn’t available yet. I see
this product as a first step towards revolutionizing fashion with electronics
and customizable displays. Imagine a flexible organic light emitting
tie with a small memory chip that displays a subtle image of ocean waves
crashing against the beach. Or even an entire dress made with OLEDs
woven into the fabric which glow and subtly change colors or form patterns
as you walk. You could control your clothing’s display and colors with
your PDA or Mobile phone via Bluetooth! Even change the colors to match
the decor of your surroundings. The possibilities are endless.

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002.Read more about Adam Lein!