Would an android phone device allow me to do these things?


i’m looking to set up a particular hardware and software situation. i’m casting around for the best kind of device/computer to use for it. a normal computer would do it, but it’d be great if it were small, cheap, and low powered, so am considering maybe using an android phone but know nothing about their caperbilities.

brief description of the situation i’m heading for, which would be in one fixed location:

  • a handful of sensors (usb webcams) feeding into the device.
  • software running on the device written by me processing sensors’ input,
  • then sending results of the processing to a web server via a normal broadband internet connection (not via some mobile phone network) on an ongoing basis.


  • are there any (preferably cheap and small) webcams compatible with android phones? (i guess we’re talking about drivers here)
  • would it be possible to feed multiple webcams in, maybe using a hub of some sort?
  • will it be possible to write android code which will have access to the images from the webcams?
  • is it possible to connect android phones to the internet via a normal internet connection rather than a mobile phone company’s connection? (so all this would be without paying a mobile phone company anything); so via usb or wifi to connect to the broadband router/modem? then have my homemade android code use the internet via such a connection?

just trying to get an idea of if any of this is feasible or impossible or whatever. i know next to nothing about mobile phones so don’t know what the situation is with them.


looks like android devices can’t act as usb hosts (which is what it needs to be if you were connecting a usb camera to it), only usb slave devices. that seems to be the case at the moment.

still interested in finding out if it’s possible to connect an android device to the internet via a normal broadband connection (rather than a mobile phone network connection) and have android your code/app use that internet connection?


Hi Johnboy,

It is definitely possible to have your device use your home internet as opposed to the mobile network, as it can use wireless. I use my android over my home wifi all the time.

Also, USB by nature will always require a PC due to the nature of its bus type. Firewire however, does not.

All the best,


One of my friend is also very eager for the similar task, but still he does not find any way other than wireless Wi-Fi. Tell us too if you find any thing better.

yup, so the phone to internet is possible, but the cameras to phone not possible, not via usb anyway.

> Also, USB by nature will always require a PC due to the nature of its bus type.

i don’t see any inherent reason an android device can’t act as a usb host? the hardware would likely i guess have to change, and i’m sure the software, the android os, would certainly have to change, but change is quite possible, surely? i don’t see any inherent reason why this might not be able to happen should the demand for it be there, which i’d say is from searching for stuff on attaching a usb camera to an android phone; there’s many people asking similar questions: how to attach their usb such and such to their android device.

i’ve come across things called “plug computers” which are computers in a power wall plug:

they run linux and have usb and ethernet and wifi. they’re not as cheap as you’d (or i would anyway) think. £100 in the uk, where as the android phone i was looking at was £70, and a phone seems a much slicker thing than those computer plugs. i guess it’s because there’s so many people buying phones but not many buying computer plugs. seems to me those computer plugs should be at least half what they cost.

one of those or some second hand or small cheap normal computer (maybe a netbook, or a second hand mac mini or mac g4 cube) are the sorts of things i’m considering.

anyone know of any non-apple hardware similar to apple’s mac mini (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Mini) or g4 cube (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Mac_G4_Cube) ? small, hopefully cheap, monitor-less computers?

just thought i’d dredge this post up seeing as i noticed something related to it just now…

“Yes, it’s true – Android (at long last!) has access to USB Host mode. I had been waiting for this to happen on the Nexus 1 or N900 some time soon, but as it turns out it’s the Droid that takes the crown…”

haven’t read it in deatail but looks like it’s a hack unfortunately, but host mode seems possible on at least one android device.

actually i’ve just noticed it’s dated Feb 2010, so it’s been around for a year