What is CALE?
CALE is a screen administrator where you can mix content of different APIs and control the content
- Meeting room sign that updates every hour showing next meetings and attendees
- Living picture, showing events or Cloudwatch statistics
- Help screens at the side of your laptop, refreshing dynamic information every 10 minutes
- Any other application you may find interesting to see in real-time outside the monitor
What it does in two simple steps
- CALE receives a request from your Screen
- Returns a response with an image or HTML if you want to use it anywhere in the web
CALE is free for personal use and supports up to 3 different Screens. If you need to use it for business and need a setup with more Screens please get in touch with us on the support section after registering an account. Check our Firmware for ESP32/ESP8266 and the supported E-ink displays in order to build one of this displays yourself. Additionally we recently added support for TFT Displays (Firmware coming at the beginning of April 2020)
Primary target displays are the so called Eink or Epaper. The technical term is electrophoretic ink, that when laminated to a plastic film and then adhered to electronics, it creates an Electronic Paper Display (EPD). The ones that expose an SPI interface for makers come in up to 2 EInk colors, 3 colors counting the white background, but in the first version of this Screen administrator tool we are targeting only the ones with Black ink (2 colors).
This particles are the diameter of human hairs. We are supporting many EPD displays using the library GxEPD
When an electrical field is applied the microcapsules with opposite sign float to the top of the display, creating a crisp image that can be seen without any backlight.
How the Firmare works to read the Screen
Right now what the Firmware does is very simple:
- Wakes up, connects to your WiFi, and reads an image from CALE
- This image URL and authorization token you can get when you log in and compose your Screens
- The firmware sends the image to the Eink display and goes to sleep a predefined time (Ex. one hour) > Repeats the loop waking up again
Optionally to save more energy, since the consumption peak is getting online, we built a mechanism to compare the hour and run
it only on the desired time. This is called Service Times and is available in every Screen configuration and it boils down to 2 points:
Service Times functionality
- CALE API will provide an API endpoint where the firmare can connect and receive a response (Do I need to refresh?)
- The firmware will only fetch the image and send it to the display if the hour checked in Point 1 is between the Service Times date and hour range.
For example if the update range is from 9 to 16 Hrs and only Mondays to Fridays, then the display will wake up at 8, check the time from the API and go to sleep one hour more without doing anything. In next wake up at 9 it will effectively see it's on the range and refresh the display.
Connecting for 2 seconds to make this very short API call is a very short consumption peak that the 10 seconds that takes to download a medium sized bitmap and to send it via SPI to the display. As a second point, EInk displays have a factory lifespan of 1 million prints, so we want to optimize both battery lifespan and the life of your display itself.