I had the pleasure of interviewing , mr. Frank Pesek, the Chief Architect of MiiPC. MiiPC is a ingenious gadget which runs on Android and was designed to be a learning, media and entertainment station.
Below you can read the questions and Frank answers.
1. How MiiPC was born? Who got the idea of creating the device and how?
Image source miipc.com
Frank: The idea for creating a physical device originated from our CEO, Young Song. It was a culmination of internal discussions between several of us – most notably, Young Song, Richard Sah and myself. The very early discussions were more about the general need that we all felt for parental monitoring and control of computers and other devices. As the discussions became more detailed Young’s background in hardware provided us with the vision of creating an actual device to provide a tangible solution to the parental monitoring and control aspects. So MiiPC was a serendipitous combination of our technical experience with software and cloud services, Young’s background in designing and delivering hardware solutions and also, just as importantly, our own personal challenges of just being parents in the age of the Internet.
2. What were the biggest challenges you had to face when creating the MiiPC?
Frank: Once we had the general vision in our minds things happened very quickly. We, of course, faced many challenges. But probably the biggest was identifying and combining the necessary hardware components to provide the functionality we wanted and yet keeping a low price point. And, fitting it all in a cosmetically appealing form factor. Our aforementioned experience and expertise with cloud software development enabled us to quickly realize the interrelated functionality of the MiiPC device and the remote monitoring and control features offered through the companion mobile application.
3. How does MiiPC work?
Frank: MiiPC, first and foremost, is a compact and affordable standalone personal computing device. It runs the Android operating system. We added a layer of software on top of the Android OS to provide an easy-to-use interface, our MiiPC Desktop, that can also be remotely managed by our companion mobile application. The key to making this work is our MiiPC Guardian Cloud Server. User and device information is securely stored in our servers. The companion mobile application talks to our servers to update user information such as granting or revoking application and device access. Then, the MiiPC device, through our MiiPC Desktop software, interrogates the MiiPC Guardian Cloud Server to retrieve and subsequently enforce the user profile characteristics. The servers also store the usage information so that real-time and also historical reporting can be provided to the parents. To be clear, the MiiPC device is not completely dependent upon our servers. We have implemented an “offline” mode where the MiiPC Desktop would continue to function and enforce the user profile characteristics defined by the parent. Additionally, the use of the MiiPC Desktop software is optional for those users who just want to use the MiiPC device as a little computer to do cool things.
4. 3 reasons why people should get the MiiPC?
Frank: Our initial focus has been geared towards families – parents who want to provide their children with a structured online experience. But we also heard from many people on Kickstarter who want to use MiiPC for other reasons. So, based on that I think the 3 top reasons would be:
1-to provide an inexpensive solution to parents who want to provide their children with a computer that can be used for gaming, web surfing, video and music streaming and productivity (homework!) but in a supervised and controlled environment. It should be noted that we never intended MiiPC to take the place of parents. What we hope is that MiiPC and the monitoring features that it provides will allow parents and their children to engage in a meaningful discussion about what is appropriate and useful. Then MiiPC just helps the parents to enable and fine tune the results of those discussions.
2-to provide a standalone media and entertainment station. MiiPC streams video to monitors and TVs through our HDMI connector. In this way, the MiiPC device can be used to playback movies and other videos from the Internet or from a personal video library or even through Miracast.
3-for someone who likes to play with cool new gadgets. A reasonable number of our Kickstarter backers plan on using MiiPC in ways we never imagined – installing other operating systems and using dual-boot; to set up their own personal web server.
5. When MiiPC will be available?
Frank: Our first shipments to our “Early Bird” Kickstarter backers are scheduled to begin sometime in July 2013. We will fulfill all of our Kickstarter orders as soon as possible. In the meantime, interested parties can add their names to our Pre-Order reservation list by visiting our website at www.miipc.com.