Intel’s New Access Point Serves Up Files Whether You’re Online or Off
Hackers have been turning Wifi routers into minimalist servers for nearly a decade now and this week Intel has gotten into the game.
The tech giant has launched a new wifi router for the educational market which doubles as a content server. It 's called Intel Education Content Access Point, and in addition to the usual Wifi routing abilities, the IECAP also packs in 8GB of storage which can be accessed from computers on the same Wifi network.
The IECAP runs Ubuntu 12.04 on a 1.46GHz Intel Atom E3815 CPU with 2GB RAM and 8GB Flash storage. In addition to the ability to act as a host for a Wifi network, it also has a USB port and an ethernet port (probably for the incoming internet connection).
Teachers or anyone with admin access can save files to the internal storage, and up to 50 users can connect and access the files from their own devices – even if there’s no internet signal.
There’s also a mention in the specs of an optional 500GB hard disk (via the USB port?) and a 4Ah battery which should keep the IECAP up and running for up to 5 hours.
That is darned powerful Wifi router, but aside from the high end specs (and the battery) there’s really not much that is new to this idea.
As I pointed out when I wrote about the Library Box 2.0 last March, hackers have been modding routers to fill similar needs since at least 2007. Other similar products include things like the PogoPlug, which first appeared in late 2009.
And of course there have been several open source projects like the PirateBox and the LibraryBox which were intended to take commercially available Wifi routers and repurpose them to serve as file servers.
But TBH, I can’t say for sure whether those projects were intended to also serve the original purpose of a router, which is to connect to the internet. And most did not have battery backups, which Intel’s product does. I also wonder if they can match Intel’s promise that up to 50 users can connect at a single time.
So while there’s a chance that Intel’s product is worth its higher price tag, a savvy shopper should look at the alternatives.
michael b. January 23, 2015 um 12:25 pm
one thing that was left off your description, is that with the battery, all it would take is a small solar panel to power it in areas without access to either internet or power.
after learning about LibraryBox (from this site!) i started to build an "off line-library", powered only by solar, to be used like a "digital little free library". my prototype was powered by a beaglebone black, linux. the o/s & content (public domain books, software, etc) on flash , read only memory, which could bea easily swapped out for additional/new content, as well as security (tough to hack if it starts fresh every n-hours, etc). i am planning on building it INTO a little free library box (for those are not familiar, think of it as a 'bird house for books').
anyone out there have a sugestion for the UI/CMS ? most of the ILS systems are too heavy for a small solar powered server (until the cheap panels get more efficeint, processors draw less, etc), and lightweight ones (calibre) have poor discovery interfaces. even been playing with a custom one built on drupal. argh !
Nate Hoffelder January 23, 2015 um 2:17 pm
Have you looked at LibraryBox to see what it uses for an interface? That was designed by a librarian and the code is supposed to be open source (I haven’t found it yet).
michael b. January 24, 2015 um 1:32 am
thanks nate, i will look again. when you first wrote about LibraryBox, i did dig deep, and it appeared to be a file server, more than anything else. i will look again, maybe even build one.
my current prototype on the beaglebone has facets ,ratings , and the usual search fields (title, author, etc).
as cheap memory keeps getting denser, more books can be available. with that comes the problem of discovery. also i would like to include 'on the fly' formatting/conversion so it can deliver to the smart phone, tablet, ereader, etc from a common file (ala calibre).
Nate Hoffelder January 24, 2015 um 7:50 am
I don’t know that he has solved it, just that he has a similar need as well as better connections to library techies who could solve it.
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