Matchstick - Firefox OS Rival To Chromecast
Written by Ian Elliot   
Wednesday, 01 October 2014

Mozilla has just announced a competitor to Chromecast. The small USB device is ready and waiting for your apps - and they are giving them away to make it easier!

Chromecast was a really good idea and lots of people bought one but for reasons that aren't clear Google never really developed it to its full potential. In an ideal world Chromecast would have been an "anything you care to put on a HD TV" from your Android or Chrome machine. 

Matchstick is an open source equivalent of Chromecast. You plug it into the HDMI socket of an HD TV and you can use it to display any video stream you care to send it.

The operating system for Matchstick is Firefox OS and this makes it 100% open source. So not only can you use it within the parameters that its designers thought up, but you are free to modify things to create anything you like. Not only is the software open, so is the hardware and you are invited to build your own Matchstick. 

 

matchstick

 

The architecture is interesting. You can write a sender app that runs on the machine you want to use to control the Matchstick. This can be a Firefox OS device or anything else you want to work with - Android, iOS, etc. The sender app scans for local devices, i.e. ones on the same WiFI network, and connects. Next the sender app asks Matchstick to launch a receiver app using a URL or even a Chromecast App ID. There are already some receiver apps that are binary compatible with many Chromecast apps.

 

matchstick3

 

The receiver app is simply an HTML web app that runs under Firefox OS. The receiver app can be written to do whatever you want it to and it maintains a connection with the sender app via a standard media control channel. In most cases the receiver would start playing a media stream that the sender indicated and the sender would use the media control channel to change the volume or play position. However, if this isn't sufficient you can you can establish any number of channels using any protocols you like. 

What is interesting is that, as the receiver app is a web app, you can use the familiar HTML media facilities, which makes it very easy to work with and very flexible. Basically if the video can be played in a browser it will play using a suitable Matchstick receiver.  

A new verb has even been invented for the interaction - to fling. In the new jargon - you can fling anything that you can see in a browser and more. 

The hardware is also intended to be superior to the Chromecast. A dual core Rockchip 3066 with 4GB and 1GB of DDR3 memory is supposed to provide better video playback performance. 

matchstickhardware

 

Mozilla is making a number of Matchsticks free as a developer preview - in the same way that they provided developer phones for Firefox OS. All you have to do is commit to building and porting apps to the Matchstick.

There is also a Kickstarter campaign aimed at bringing down the total cost of the device:

 

The target is $100,000 and after just one day it has already been exceeded, with $108,000 already pledged. Those who were first off the mark were able to bag one of 250 early batch developer prototypes for $24 with a delivery date of November 2014. The estimated retail price for the final unit is $25 and devices should be available in February 2015. 

 matchstick

Matchstick

Matchstick - The Streaming Stick Built on Firefox OS

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 October 2014 )