ContactKey: A Portable, Battery-powered Phonebook


Although it’s still a prototype, [Russell] tipped us off to his battery-powered device for storing your contacts list: ContactKey. (Warning: Loud sound @ beginning). Sure, paper can back up your contact information, but paper isn’t nearly as cool to show off, nor can it receive updates directly from your Android. The ContactKey displays a contact’s information on an OLED screen, which you can pluck through by pressing a few buttons: either ‘Up,’ ‘Down,’ or ‘Reset’. Although the up/down button can advance one contact at a time, holding one down will fly through the list at lightning speed. A few seconds of inactivity causes a timeout and puts the ContactKey to sleep to conserve battery life.

This build uses an ATMega328 microcontroller and an external EEPROM to store the actual list. [Russell] wrote an Android app that will sync your contact list to the ContactKey over USB via an FTDI chip. The microcontroller uses I2C to talk to the EEPROM, while an OLED display interfaces to the ATMega through SPI. We’re looking forward to seeing how compact [Russell] can make the ContactKey once it’s off the breadboard; the battery life for most smartphones isn’t particularly stellar. Phones of the future will eventually live longer, but we bet it won’t be this one.

5 thoughts on “ContactKey: A Portable, Battery-powered Phonebook

  1. It does seem like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist Assuming the idea could be refactored down to fit in a wallet amongst credit cards and use bluetooth, I guess it could have its uses. I must admit I do have a soft spot for those tiny OLED displays.

    1. I thought the REX series was the future. I had a 5000 but they fact you couldn’t enter data on it (you could on the 6000) was a major limitation.

      I had a smartphone but the battery life was a major turnoff for me. Something with the functionality of a smartphone (but without the phone bit – happy with my dumbphone for that), even just wifi, but crazy battery life would be awesome. An iPod touch I guess it pretty close.

      Hmmm… might have to set up an eBay saved search and try to find a 6000.

      1. I haven’t seen anyone do the scheme I think would solve a lot of my battery problems. A slightly-bulkier-than-average tablet with an extra large battery, 4G and BT/Wifi. Add to that a phone handset with a backup cell radio, but it usually relies on the tablet for the heavy lifting. I have a phone when I want it, and the battery lasts for days. Considering I carry both anyway, it would be a nice system.

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