Tag Archives: 2014

Video: Atmel demos QTouch tech at Computex

Atmel’s comprehensive QTouch Library makes it simple for developers to embed capacitive-touch button, slider, and wheel functionality into a wide range of microcontroller applications.

The royalty-free QTouch Library provides several library files for each device, supporting various numbers of touch channels – enabling both flexibility and efficiency in touch applications.

Simply put, by selecting the library file supporting the exact number of channels needed, developers can achieve a more compact and efficient code using less RAM.

Earlier this week at Computex 2014, Atmel staff engineer Paul Kastnes demonstrated the integration of QTouch solutions with low-power consumption, using ARM Cortex-M0+ microcontrollers and sensor engines.

In addition, Atmel senior manager Dr. John Logan showcased how mobile applications can be customized using customized sensors, exhibited by a modified SAM D20 ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller and an accelerometer gyroscope.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Atmel’s official QTouch page here and Atmel’s SAM D lineup here.

Atmel @ Maker Faire Day 1

Bay Area Maker Faire 2014 kicked off today, with hackers, modders, makers and veteran DIYs showcasing their creations, many of which are powered by Atmel microcontrollers.

Atmel’s booth – #205 – is drawing large crowds, with entire families clustering around to see a wide range of Atmel-based products, including the MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer, Mel Li’s wearable electronics, various Arduino boards, Red Boards, ProtoSnap Pro-Mini, MicroView, FuzzBots, the Phoenar, Touch Board, Hexabugs and uToT Robots.

There are literally thousands of cool creations here at the show so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures below! The gallery for Day 2 is available here.












Understanding IoT security requirements

The power of objects in the Internet of Things (IoT) to change the state of environments will likely prompt chief information security officers (CISOs) to redefine the scope of their efforts beyond current responsibilities.

According to Gartner, IoT security requirements will “reshape and expand” over half of all global enterprise IT security programs by 2020 due to changes in supported platform and service scale, diversity and function.

“The IoT is redrawing the lines of IT responsibilities for the enterprise,” explained Earl Perkins, research vice president at Gartner. “IoT objects possess the ability to change the state of the environment around them, or even their own state; for example, by raising the temperature of a room automatically once a sensor has determined it is too cold or by adjusting the flow of fluids to a patient in a hospital bed based on information about the patient’s medical records. Securing the IoT expands the responsibility of the traditional IT security practice with every new identifying, sensing and communicating device that is added for each new business use case.”

To be sure, traditional “information” technology is now being supplemented by purpose-built, industry-specific technologies that are defined by where and how that technology is used and what function it delivers. Simply put, information remains a critical deliverable and is the fuel for IoT devices. The device’s ability to identify itself (such as RFID tags that identify cargo), sense the environment (such as temperature and pressure sensors) or communicate (such as devices in ocean buoys that transmit environmental changes to the areas around them) requires information to be generated, communicated and/or used.

Although traditional IT infrastructure is capable of many of these tasks, functions that are delivered as purpose-built platforms using embedded technology, sensors and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications for specific business use cases signal a major change in the traditional concept of IT and the concept of securing IT.

“This is an inflection point for security. CISOs will need to deconstruct current principles of IT security in the enterprise by re-evaluating practices and processes in light of the IoT impact. Real-time, event-driven applications and nonstandard protocols will require changes to application testing, vulnerability, identity and access management (IAM) — the list goes on,” said Perkins.

“Handling network scale, data transfer methods and memory usage differences will also require changes. Governance, management and operations of security functions will need to change to accommodate expanded responsibilities, similar to the ways that bring your own device (BYOD), mobile and cloud computing delivery have required changes — but on a much larger scale and in greater breadth.”

Although the business use cases being identified daily are indeed innovative and new, the technologies and services that deliver them are seldom new as well — they are also rarely uniform in architecture and design. Each use case risk profile has specific requirements that may result in the use of old platform and service architecture with a new technology “overlay” to improve performance and control.

“This represents an interesting challenge for CISOs when delivering secure services for the IoT,” Perkins continued. “In some cases, it may be a ‘past is future’ exercise in evaluating mainframe, client/server, Web, cloud and mobile security options as part of an overall IoT business use case. Even out-of-maintenance systems such as Windows XP may still play a critical role for some industry infrastructure as part of an IoT security system. Security planners should not throw away their old security technology manuals just yet.”

In addition, says Perkins, CISOs should not automatically assume that existing security technologies and services must be replaced. Rather, they should evaluate the potential of integrating new security solutions with old. Simply put, many traditional security product and service providers are already expanding their existing portfolios to incorporate basic support for embedded systems and M2M communications, including support for communications protocols, application security and IAM requirements that are specific to the IoT.

According to Perkins, CISOs should resist the temptation to overthink security planning while patterns and solutions are still emerging. Rather, they should start small and develop initial security projects based on specific IoT interactions within specific business use cases. CISOs can build on these use case experiences to develop common security deployment scenarios, core architectural foundations and competency centers for the future.

“The requirements for securing the IoT will be complex, forcing CISOs to use a blend of approaches from mobile and cloud architectures, combined with industrial control, automation and physical security,” he concluded. “Fortunately, many of the security requirements for the IoT will look familiar to the CISO. The technologies and services that have been used for decades to secure different eras of computing are still applicable in most cases.”

Interested in learning more about the IoT? You can check out Atmel’s recent IoT SoMa panel on the subject here, Patrick Sullivan’s EELive! 2014 presentation and our extensive Bits & Pieces IoT article archive here.

Atmel showcases AvantCar concept at CES 2014

Atmel is showcasing its AvantCar curved touch screen console concept at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. According to Atmel Marketing Director Stephan Thaler, the exhibit demonstrates the future of human machine interface (HMI) in upcoming vehicles.


“Today’s drivers are demanding richer user experiences in the automobile, similar to smart devices in the consumer market,” Thaler explained. 

“This includes capactive touchscreens, curved form factors, personalized color schemes and navigation menus via touch buttons and sliders. AvantCar addresses all these requirements with an advanced user interface in the center console to include [the latest] technologies.”

As Thaler notes, Atmel’s AvantCar concept demonstrates a fully functional center console highlighting two large curved touchscreen displays with no mechanical buttons. Instead, the touchscreens integrate capacitive touch buttons and sliders – allowing the user to navigate general applications typically found within an automotive center console including global navigation system (GPS), car thermostat, audio controls for a radio or media player, seat controls and more. 

AvantCar also allows drivers to personalize their vehicle environment via advanced touch capabilities and the automotive local interconnect network (LIN) connectivity system, enabling individuals to simply push a single button to alter the car’s ambient lighting.

The entire AvantCar center console is powered by Atmel technology, including the XSense touch sensor, maXTouch controller and QTouch, as well as automotive-qualified MCUs and LIN drivers for the ambient lighting control in the demonstrator.

Additional technical details are listed below:

  • Curved touchscreen display – XSense, Atmel’s highly flexible touch sensor, employing metal mesh technology, can be used on curved surfaces and edges, giving the console a sleeker, more elegant design. XSense also facilitates the replacement of mechanical switches or rotary knobs on the curved center console with moisture resistance and glove support for drivers in cold climates.
  • Large capacitive touch screens – AvantCar offers optimized touch performance using Atmel’s automotive-qualified maXTouch controllers that support touchscreens and touchpads up to 12 inches. maXTouch controllers provide faster response times, more accurate touches and lower power consumption than other solutions on the market today.
  • Proximity sensing and capacitive touch buttons and sliders – Atmel’s QTouch technology provides a more intuitive user interface, effectively replacing mechanical buttons or rotary knobs while adding capacitive proximity detection, all embedded in a single controller. Proximity sensing will detect the approaching hand and then control, for example, lights to turn on/off and the touchscreen backlight accordingly. This feature is also ideal for night time driving especially for GPS, radio control and thermostat checks.
  • Ambient lighting controls – Atmel’s LIN solutions, based on the company’s RF and automotive-qualified AVR MCUs, offer an ambient lighting control option for each driver to personalize car lighting.

“Atmel’s AvantCar is designed to show an avant-garde concept of what future car center consoles are likely to look like and how responsive they will be to a driver’s touch using advanced HMI interfaces,” added Thaler. “We are pioneering new ground with our technologies for the automotive segment and are thrilled to add more focus in this area for the upcoming years.”

The demo – designed in in conjunction with Germaneers GmbH – can be seen at Atmel’s Meeting Room #MP25958 located in the Lower Level of the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Please contact pr@atmel.com to schedule an appointment.

Connected cars @ CES 2014

By 2016, the majority of average car buyers for a standard brand vehicle in mature markets will expect at least basic Web-based information availability in their new automobiles. According to Gartner analysts, this tipping point will be achieved in 2014 for premium brand vehicles. By year-end 2020, more than 80 percent of all new vehicles sold in mature automobile markets, such as the United States, are projected to offer connected-vehicle functionality.

“Many companies will continue to showcase the latest infotainment offerings at CES 2014, as well as new user interface innovations that take advantage of an automobile’s numerous sensors and other design advantages compared to mobile consumer electronic devices. Advancements in self-driving automobiles will also be discussed again as well as higher data speeds,” Gartner analysts explained in a recent Q&A.

“The automobile will eventually become more innovative and cooler than smartphones and excite drivers and passengers in immersive experiences that will put an end to the question ‘are we there yet?’ It’s not just the automakers that will make new connected vehicle-centric announcements. Expect small and large technology companies to step up their efforts and interests in one of the fastest growing connected device platforms.”

Gartner analysts also noted that today’s consumers are demanding very specific features that help enhance both the driving and ownership experience.

“It’s not about Internet browsing in the car and instead about Internet snacking. That means getting the right amount of information contextualized at the right time. Until the arrival of the self-driving automobile, consumers want practical information and apps that entertain them and find the next available parking spot without wasting time and gas,” the analysts clarified. “They like to know the location of their friends and family, but don’t want to do social networking on Facebook or Twitter. Consumers also like the automakers to provide them with the latest software and application upgrades delivered wirelessly over-the-air and offered in a personalized fashion.”

Last, but certainly not least, the analysts confirmed that IT is fast becoming a “core element” of automotive product innovations and will eventually be as critical as sheet metal and design.

“The ability to be connected and talk to a consumer while driving represents a unique and truly captive audience that other industries would love to have. This will allow the automotive industry to move into an intermodal-transportation-solution-provider business model that offers all kinds of transportation solutions plus adjacent Infotainment value propositions over time,” the analysts added.