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Hardware Review: MICO Phone Interface Shield For Arduino

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by , 03-06-2014 at 02:49 PM (6265 Views)

What is it?

The MICO Shield is an Arduino add-on module which allows the Arduino to interface with a mobile phone.

The Verdict:

Provided you have a compatible Arduino device, the MICO shield can pull any vehicle closer to the connected car lifestyle with the power of a cell phone.



Most hardware DIYers have tinkered with or at least heard about the open source I/O powerhouse that is the Arduino. I've personally spent hours upon hours finding different methods to power on an LED from different Adruino add-ons, called "shields". The MICO shield just might be my favorite of the bunch as I feel its features can most likely be used with an Arduino installed in my vehicle.

As cute a name as MICO is, it really stands for Mobile Interactive voice response and COntrol. The premise is rather simple, connect the MICO shield to a cell phone headphone jack and MICO can answer any calls received. The real power in the MICO comes from what you can do with that call. MICO serves as an virtual operator to any number of functions.


MICO can tell you the temperature in the vehicle from its built-in thermosensor. MICO can read from a voltmeter connected to the Arduino and let callers know how much juice is left in the battery. MICO can be programmed to make a call when the car is located outside a geofence. MICO can also do, as shown here, where an Arduino-novice like me created a sketch to make MICO trigger my remote starter.


Installation of the MICO shield could not be easier. It simply plugs into the headphone jack of a cell phone. MICO answers calls in two different methods. The first method listens to the audio jack for ringing signal and answers after a configurable number of rings. There are two sets of jumpers on the device to allow MICO to listen in regardless of mic polarity. The second option depends on the cell phones ability to auto-answer, an option that is available on a great number of phones today. That being said, its important to know if your phone supports these methods to ensure compatibility. MICO also has an optional 2nd headphone jack which can be used to listen to what MICO is saying for testing purposes. The 2nd headphone jack does not however pass caller audio through.


MICO uses the Arduino SDK for its programming, so it's easy to adapt its features to your build. There's even handy example sketches to help get you started. To get much use out of this shield, you'll need to have a micro SD card, as the audible responses that MICO uses must be declared and saved as RAW audio files. MICO PCB is directly compatible with the Arduino Uno device, but sadly directly connect with the beefier Arduino Mega.




The Positive:

High quality add-on which allows arduino/cell phone interfacing
Compatible with most phones today
Uses Arduino SDK for programming ease and comes with helpful examples
Easy to create audible prompts for use and SD Card use allows for large variety of options



The Negative:

Not (yet) compatible with Arduino MEGA
Small number of phones will be incompatible


The Verdict:

Provided you have a compatible Arduino device, the MICO shield can pull any vehicle closer to the connected car lifestyle with the power of a cell phone.

The MICO shield for Adruino is available through the mp3Car store.

Check back soon for a video of the MICO device in action, as well as more blogs showing how the Arduino line of devices can be used to supercharge the connected car experience.



The MICO shield for Adruino is available through the mp3Car store.

Check back soon for a video of the MICO device in action, as well as more blogs showing how the Arduino line of devices can be used to supercharge the connected car experience.

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Quote Originally Posted by overlander View Post
Any more update on this? I have a 700TSV in my vehicle now and I'm growing to hate it. Keeps resetting itself to low brightness no matter what I do (old firmware) and if the sun hits it at all (even indirectly) I can't see anything on the screen. I'm curious how well this does in true sunlight from anyone with first hand experience. I was considerin replacing mine with the high brightness (1000 nt) version, but would this be a better replacement even though it's also only 500 like my TSV? In total brightness, when I put my Samsung Galaxy V next to my TSV, I can still see the Galaxy 4 active clearly even though the TSV is totally washed out.
After the release of cheap tablets I fail to see the draw for any of these screens we all used to drool over. Theyre overpriced and cause more headaches than they are worth. I owned one when I used to have a whole mac mini in my car, but once the ipad came out...wtf did I need a whole PSU, computer, screen, GPS dongle, etc when its all in one package for a much better price for what you get and how easy it is to work with.

I know we all used to like the idea of a fully integrated car and DIY hacks and all that, seems mp3car is still going strong with that...but, so many large companies are getting on board and making turnkey solutions that it seems to be more of a hobby than useful anymore to go full out custom.
Any more update on this? I have a 700TSV in my vehicle now and I'm growing to hate it. Keeps resetting itself to low brightness no matter what I do (old firmware) and if the sun hits it at all (even indirectly) I can't see anything on the screen. I'm curious how well this does in true sunlight from anyone with first hand experience. I was considerin replacing mine with the high brightness (1000 nt) version, but would this be a better replacement even though it's also only 500 like my TSV? In total brightness, when I put my Samsung Galaxy V next to my TSV, I can still see the Galaxy 4 active clearly even though the TSV is totally washed out.
any chance you can measure the size of that screen? The visible pixel dimensions and the overall screen dimension? Pcb dimensions too? Probably a bit of work. I'd really appreciate it if you took a few minutes to do that for me though.