I also brought my Ubuntu netbook to see if it worked well as advertised. I plugged it in, but nothing happened. So I kept an eye on dmesg and found it rather alarming:
I double checked with @davidlian's device, and the I/O errors persisted with his device too. So its not particularly well setup. However it mounts as a read-only device and displays 3 files.
Because Ubuntu doesnt recognise "autorun.inf", you'd have to manually click on the Start_Poken.html file. This is where the magic lies. In the html file, it has a URL which is automatically generated everytime you plug your Poken in.
Its a simple META refresh to a p.poken.ch website with a really long URL and looks something like this:
It certainly looks like it was a relatively straight forward encoding, with fields delimited or padded with the 'AAA's. So the first few parts tended not to change, but I could detect the byte field which increments by four bits every time its plugged in. What is also interesting is that the trailing groups of data corresponds to the number of people I Pokened. So in this case, was 6 people.
The remaining series of '+-+-+' obviously is "free space", and at 1434 bytes remaining, with approximately 23 bytes per Poken contact, it should be able to fill another 62 contacts in addition to my 6, so a total of 68 pokes.
So don't go to a Poken party with more than 68 new people, or you'd lose information. I'm not too sure what happens when it gets full, but it seems you can erase the information on your Poken by holding the button down for more than 3 seconds.
I also pried open my Poken, and it split apart quite easily. There was no glue holding it together, as its held together with just simple plastic catches, so a small screwdriver will do the trick. Underneath the circuit board, they melted the plastic pins to flatten out like rivets, so you'd have to push those up for the board to slide through.
As you can see, the circuitry itself is small and thin with the possibility of being incorporated in a slim card form factor. However the bulk comes from the battery, and the antenna, which is wrapped up as a spool.
It also works just by touching the battery onto the contacts, and the red LED lights up. I noticed 3 other LEDs, inside the spool: Another Red, the Green, and Orange to signify the different modes of the Poken.
I then snapped it back, not wanting to damage this device further.
So its a relatively simple device, with not much information exchanged during the Pokening process. Just the ID of your friend, and the status of their Poken (discrete or normal). All the actual "Social Network" information is actually in the website. So there is no need to "download" information into your Poken.
What this also means is that this Poken device may not be necessary in the future. All we need could be just software which runs on your phone, which can do almost the same thing via Bluetooth, Infrared or even the Bump.
I guess why this is interesting is that we have some relatively cheap tech which does data transmission, reception and storage in a really bizarre form factor. I look forward to people hacking this to make other interesting applications.
Noticing that the website allows customisation of the Poken Calling Cards, here is my Poken Card template which I created using GIMP (the layered .xcf file available on demand):
Things which Poken needs to fix:
- I/O error as reported by dmesg
- Making the device writable - what is the use of a 1GB capacity when I cant use it? [Update: it seems the 1GB is simulated, as the device has only 14KB of memory]
- Linux friendly - plug and launch
- It seems Facebook Connect only works with Internet Explorer 7+. Being a Firefox on Linux user, I don't see how I can make use of this.
- Make the device cheaper - something which people wont even think twice about buying. RM20?
- Make it thinner
- More Pokenistas abound.
Carolyn Chan - "If it ain't Poken, go fix it"
Nicki Choong - "Let's start Poken"
Suanie - "do you poken? come poken with me"
[Update: 12 Aug 2009, added Suanie's blog which mentions this, and the 1GB simulated info]