Is Cotton Candy Android USB the Future of Thin Clients?
The concept of a bootable USB drive running Linux is nothing new. But what if you had a bootable USB drive that was literally an entire mobile device, simply lacking a screen? That’s what FXI has imagined with its “Cotton Candy” device. Details follow …
But it’s more than some flash RAM with a Linux distribution installed on it. It’s essentially an entire Android phone, without the screen. The whole unit houses an ARM-based CPU-GPU combination with all the other important circuitry including WiFi and Bluetooth, minus the phone, of course. Since the device has a HDMI plug on one end and a USB plug on the other, users can either borrow a computer to launch Android (it has a built-in client to ‘view’ Android), or plug it right into a TV to combine with some Bluetooth mouse and keyboard goodness. No extra hardware required.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a Google-sanctioned Android device, so it lacks the Android Marketplace. But according to The Verge, users can still side-load apps. The manufacture’s site doesn’t specify which version of Android it’s running, but The Verge says it’s Android 2.3, meaning users should be able to easily load up the Amazon Appstore in lieu of the Google Marketplace.
So, what’s the use case for the channel, then? This well could be the future of mobility and thin clients. If we consider that Android and mobile ARM-based CPUs can continue to mature and expand their feature capabilities, it’s more than likely these devices could become tiny powerhouses. Imagine cubicles filled nothing but a keyboard, mouse and monitor. All users do is plug in their Android dongle, boot up and log in, either through a VDI client running on Android or a specialized version of Android that connects to a virtualization server automatically. They then could take that device home and work from home with access to the same data and enterprise ecosystem of apps and capabilities.
Seem far out? Not exactly. Wyse has already introduced its mobile thin client which resembles a laptop, so don’t bet against this technology. FXI could be building the future of mobile devices right now. Set to be priced under $200 for the consumer, there’s no telling what industries this device could take off in.