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19 February 2013, 15:57

Droidifi will use Android to turbocharge routers

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Droid Router The Droidifi developers aim to port the Android smartphone operating system to wireless routers to unlock the full power of the devices. The first version of Droidifi should be supported on the Cisco EA6500, Netgear R6300 and ASUS RT-AC66U.

All three routers make use of IEEE 802.11ac to achieve Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1.7Gbit/s, contain a Gigabit Ethernet switch, USB ports, and decent processing power, memory and flash storage (128MB). An alpha version of the firmware which can be administered using a browser via an HTML5 interface has been demonstrated. Basic wireless and Ethernet functionality has also been implemented, but, say the developers, the alpha is still lacking a robust firewall, QoS functionality, port forwarding and other features. Droidifi is based on Android 4.2.2 (JellyBean), with the Linux 3.6.11 kernel used in that version getting a number of drivers added to it.

Screencast of Droidifi installation

According to the developers, the Droidifi firmware will enable wireless routers to achieve their full potential. As examples of this potential, they suggest improved Wi-Fi power, simple connection of multiple wireless routers (mesh networking), and the ability to run Android apps on the router. The developers say that, although standard Android apps for phones won't make much sense, app makers will be able to use the Android tool chain to create software better suited to living on a router.

Similar functionality to Droidifi is already provided by OpenWRT and DD-WRT router firmware, both of which are also Linux-based and able to run on a much wider range of wireless routers, including older ones.

Interested users have until mid-March to contribute to router firmware Droidifi on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Pledges range from as little as $1 to simply participate in the beta to $1000 for a custom firmware build; $250 gets a "Primary Developer" kit, which includes an 802.11ac Wi-Fi router. The Droidifi developers say they hope to build a business model with a Droidifi App Store, releasing a basic version of the firmware for free and letting users subscribe to the store to obtain new features.


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