Magnify the Motorola Droid

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The Motorola Droid packs a lot of pixels into a small device – 854 pixels by 480 pixels. The vertical resolution of the Droid is equivalent to the horizontal resolution of an iPod, whose resolution is 480 by 320 pixels. Having so many pixels makes the Droid well-suited for viewing screencasts, narrated explanations of computer activity. Gazing at that small screen for more than a few minutes could tire the eyes, though. Is there some low-cost, homebrew way to enlarge the screen image on the Droid? Indeed there is.

This YouTube video chronicles some experiments I did using a low-cost Fresnel lens and a homemade cardboard container. My goal in this experiment was to find a way for people to comfortably and portably view the outstanding Inkscape screencasts by Richard Querin and HeathenX which they generously distribute for free. Inkscape is a free vector drawing program that is equivalent to Adobe Illustrator. It runs on all major platforms: Linux, Macintosh and Windows. Here is why I love Inkscape and why you'll love this program, too. (Thanks, TogrutaJedi)

Given the success I quickly encountered in this Droid magnification experiment, you'd think Motorola, Verizon or Google would have thought to try something like this themselves. Truth is, when a company designs a consumer electronics product, it behooves them to involve consumers in the design process. We know better than they do the uses we have for electronic devices. The most they can ever do is guess the purposes for which we use devices.

Guessing is no longer needed, though. The way we do things in the new century is via the participatory method. Companies don't need to guess to find out what we want. Just ask us -- during the design phase. We'll tell you what you need to know and we'll gladly do so for free.

I've written about these ideas before on this blog. The future will be designed by consumers. We should build a more inclusive, more participatory world and start doing that sooner rather than later.

You can nudge the world forward by supporting companies that involve consumers in the design process. Open their minds by having them open the design process. We all win when that happens.

Can you see clearly now? I can.

Phil Shapiro

The blogger is an educator and technology commentator in the Washington DC-area. He can be reached at and on Twitter at

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