Tag Archives: Android

Rolling MCUs, connectivity, security and software into one wearable package

This Android-based, Bluetooth-enabled wearable badge can act as a compass, watch, slideshow app, battery gauge and more.

Did you know that 45.7 million wearable devices are expected to ship this year, up 133.4% from the 19.6 million units shipped in 2014? And by 2019, reports are calling for shipment volumes to reach 126.1 million units, resulting in a five-year CAGR of 45.1. Given this emergence of body-adorned technology, the need for a hardware and software-based turnkey solution has never been so paramount. With this in mind, Atmel has unveiled the first-ever wearable solution that integrates its broad solutions offering all rolled into one.


Just in time for Computex 2015, the company has designed a 7cm x 9cm demonstrator around a smart badge concept, which combines low-power embedded processing, wireless, touch and sensor technologies to form an unparalleled turnkey system for virtually any type of wearable application.

This demonstrator converges hardware and software technologies, from Atmel and its partners, into a highly optimized and comprehensive out-of-the-box solution that addresses the complex requirements for the burgeoning wearable market, all while bringing their designs quickly to market. Users can wear it around their neck and display different applications (compass, watch, spirit level, slide show, battery gauge) specialized for the Andriod operating system (OS) and made by Adeneo Embedded.

“Adeneo Embedded has a long standing partnership with Atmel on Linux, Windows Embedded and more recently Android porting activities for AT91SAM ARM based MPUs,” said Yannick Chammings, Adeneo Embedded CEO. “With the collaboration on the Smart Badge concept, implementing Android-based wearable scenarios, Adeneo Embedded will scale OS and SW support to OEMs developing smart, connected, wearable devices.”

Based on Atmel’s embedded connectivity, the demonstrator can interact with other Android mobile phones. The badge uses a 3.5-inch display from Precision Design Associates and embeds MEMS and sensor technology from Bosch Sensortec, as well as memory multi-chip package from Micron combining 4Gb of LPDDR2 + 4GB of eMMC in a single package demonstrator running on the Android KitKat OS. Beyond that, Atmel is also developing a software framework that will allow various software partners to plug in their software and seamlessly work together.


With the anticipated growth of the wearable space, designers are continually seeking solutions that combine all the necessary and complex technologies into a simple, ready-to-use solution, enabling designers to focus on differentiating their products. The Smart Badge is the first demonstrator to bring together the company’s ultra-low power Atmel | SMART SAMA5D31 MPU, the Atmel | SMART SAM G54 sensor hub solution, a maXTouch mXT112S controller and a SmartConnect WILC3000 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth integrated solution.

“Atmel possesses the most complete, lowest power technology portfolio for wearable devices worldwide,” explains Vince Murdica, who is responsible for Atmel’s sensor-centric business unit. “Atmel’s Smart Badge is the first of many wearable reference designs and platforms to come as we want to ensure when customers think wearables, they think Atmel. We are very focused and excited to help accelerate the growth of the wearable market with turnkey, low power, complete hardware and software solutions.”

Watch the badge in action below!

The Atmel powered DrinkMate has your BAC

Developed by the team at Edge Tech Labs, DrinkMate is a lipstick-sized breathalyzer that plugs directly into your smartphone. The project recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign having exceeded its original $40,000 goal by nearly $60,000.


Unlike others of the past, the world’s smallest breathalyzer — which measures 1.8″ long x 0.62″ in diameter — works in conjunction with the Android phone’s app and displays his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) results instantly with no calibration, no mouthpiece and no battery.

How does it work? One end of the DrinkMate simply plugs into the phone’s microUSB port; a user blows into the other end; BAC results are then displayed instantly. However, keep in mind that like with any breathalyzer, users can’t eat or drink anything for 15-20 minutes prior to using the device in order to get an accurate reading.


DrinkMate has a low-cost advanced stability semiconductor-based sensor, which will get you results within 0.01%. Though the sensor’s limit is 0.20%, as the creators mention, if you’re past 0.20% then you would “probably need help standing anyway!”


Led by Shaun Masavage and Mack Redding, the team devised the portable, lightweight (only weights 0.2 oz) yet powerful breathalyzer entirely from scratch, along with an Atmel microcontroller (MCU), of course.


“DrinkMate was designed entirely from scratch. We knew that to make a new breakthrough in size reduction, we couldn’t have any bias from existing larger designs,” a company rep noted on its site.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 33,561 people died in traffic crashes in 2012 in the U.S. alone with an estimated 10,322 as a result of drunk driving, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic deaths that year. With its latest innovation, DrinkMate hopes to heavily reduce the number of drunk driving incidents and corresponding fatalities.


When discussing the goal of the pocket-sized breathalyzer, Masavage shares, “By making DrinkMate more accessible and cheaper ($25), we’re hoping users will use it publicly, and that it will take away some of the stigma of checking on your BAC.”

Interested in a DrinkMate of your own before heading out for a night on the town? They are now available for pre-order on the team’s official website, and are expected to begin shipping in December.

cPulse: An Android case to light up your life

CODLIGHT has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the cPulse, the world’s first smart LED lighting case for Android phones. Powered by the Atmel SAM3X MCU, the unit offers a new spin on LED interaction.


As its Kickstarter page notes, the cPulse consists of an edge-to-edge case and a 128 LED panel equipped with an ambilight sensor, providing users with a high intensity and colorful lighting experience. The case and its accompanying app allow you to create, share, and play your own lighting tracks just as you do with digital music. Users can also opt to create their own lighting tracks from scratch.


Compatible with any Android 4.4 KitKat smartphone, the cPulse aims to make LED lighting creative, social and of course, mobile. Its panel of LEDs can be used to display notifications and to create unique lighting ambiances.

The sleek design and external micro-USB slot assure that daily activity on your smartphone will not be hindered. CODLIGHT has even taken indispensable battery power into account stating that “One hour of colorful LED lighting accounts for merely 7% of your smartphone’s total battery capacity.”


The LED lighting experience can be used to set the mood in a room, gently wake you up, or display a flashy notification when you receive a text message.

CODLIGHT is also embracing the growing 3D printing movement by providing their case files to the Maker community. The company will then ship the required electronic elements to a Maker’s home and allow for home construction of the cPulse case.


As TechCrunch reported, CODLIGHT isn’t necessarily a phone case company, instead the French company says it wants to “’re-invent’ the way people interact with lighting. The cPulse is certainly a bold and innovative way to begin that task.

If you want to learn more about the cPulse or how you can support the development of this product, head on over to their Kickstarter page.


Combining Android and Arduino to control your TV

Couch potatoes, you’ll love this. Maker Jayvis Vineet Gonsalves has created a device ideal for any lazy Sunday spent on the sofa. His Android-powered TV remote allows for voice recognition software to control your TV with little to no effort.


This Maker’s Aergia (named after the Greek goddess of sloth) concept was devised for a situation where “the TV remote which is located just beyond your arm’s length seems to be many miles away and you do not have the energy, nor the will power to reach for it.” Hoping to utilize the power of his Android phone, which is never out of arm’s reach, Jayvis embarked on this project.

After preparing the plastic project enclosure and securing the power supply circuit, Jayvis turned to the brains of the device. To solve his lethargy issue, he paired a Bluetooth transceiver with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).


“The Bluetooth Module enables the Arduino to connect and communicate wirelessly with the Android phone,’ the Maker noted. He also suggests that you purchase a Bluetooth Module, which is soldered to a breakout board, as purchasing only the Bluetooth Module without the breakout board means that “you will have to do the tricky soldering part which could damage the module if it is not done with the right tools”


Next, he attached an IR LED Stem to communicate with the TV and assembled all of the components into a final build. To control this device, Jayvis developed an Android app companion that functions as a universal Bluetooth remote. He notes, “In addition to all the basic buttons an IR Remote has, the app also features a voice recognition system and 12 user programmable buttons.” Perfect for any couch potato!

If you would like to build your own Aergia device, you can check out the full Instructables post here.

iPod hacking with Android and Arduino

A Maker with the handle “Erroneous Data” has posted a detailed Instructables explaining how to hack an old iPod using an Atmel-based Arduino Uno (ATmega328 MCU) and Android. Oh, and yes. There is no need to break out the soldering gun for this project.

“Just leave [your] old iPod plugged into the stereo and your music will start to play when you walk in the door. The Arduino acts as a liaison between the iPod and your Droid,” Erroneous Data explained.

“Since the iPod device is connected directly to your stereo, it eliminates any error that can occur when streaming the music to a separate device.”

Key features include:

  • Auto connect
  • Auto play
  • Auto pause
  • In-call pause
  • Alarm

As HackADay’s Brian Benchoff reports, with the right resistance on a specific pin on the 30-pin dock connector, iPods will send the track name and playlists over a serial connection, all while responding to play, pause, skip and volume commands.

“There hasn’t been much work towards implementing the copious amount of documentation of this iPod accessory mode in small microcontroller projects. [However], with a little bit of work, [he] managed to replicate the usual iPod dock commands with an Arduino,” said Benchoff.

“Using an HC-05 Bluetooth module, it’s possible to get this iPod-connected Arduino to relay data to and from an Android device with a small app. The circuit is simple, the app is free, and if you have an iPod with an old battery or cracked screen, it can still work as a music storage device.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official Instructables page here.

BlueMatrix: An Arduino-based LED matrix display

Designed by Dentella LucaBlueMatrix can be controlled remotely via a PC, smartphone or tablet.

Key project components include:

  • An Atmel-based Arduino Uno (ATmega328 MCU)
LED matrix display based on the HC1632C controller
Lipo Rider
Lipo Fuel Gauge
HC-05 Bluetooth module
  • 5mm plexiglas enclosure

The modules are connected as follows:

“The Arduino Uno is the heart of the project, [as] it manages the display, checks the battery status and talks (using a simple protocol) with the controlling device (Windows application or Android app),” Luca explained in a recent blog post.

“The BlueMatrix is powered by a Li-po battery (1 cell). The battery’s state of charge is monitored by Lipo Fuel Gauge, which sends the actual SoC (State of Charge) value to Arduino via I2C bus. The Lipo Rider module rises the battery voltage to 5V to power all the other modules and allows it to recharge the battery using a simple, mini-USB power supply.”

Meanwhile, the HC-05 module is tasked with managing Bluetooth connectivity.

“After having established the connection with the remote device, it transparently transport the data received/transmitted by Arduino via serial connection,” said Luca.

On the software side, Luca developed two applications to control BlueMatrix: a .Net application (developed in C#) and an Android app.

“BlueMatrix was designed to be portable, therefore I suppose that it will be mostly controlled using a smartphone; this is the reason why the Android app is better designed than the desktop one and it’s also available on Google’s Play Store,” he added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the official BlueMatrix project page here and download the Arduino sketch on GitHub here.

Atmel looks back at Q1 2014 wins and launches

Yesterday, Atmel execs detailed the company’s Q1 2014 highlights. Key launches, collaborative projects and product wins spanned multiple markets, including:

Winning with maXTouch (smartphones) – LG’s G Pro 2, G2 Mini and L Series 3 L90; Verizon’s Lucid 3, Xiaomi’s RedRice 5.5″, Gionee’s Elife S5.5 and ZTE’s Grand S Lite.

Winning with maXTouch (Android and Windows 8 tablets) – Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 10.1,” Galaxy Tab 12.2,” Galaxy Note 12.2″ and HP’s EliteBook 1000 G2.

Collaborating with Corning – Developing ultra-thin, next-generation capacitive touchscreens using Gorilla Glass and XSense.

Working with Mentor GraphicsAccelerating development of next-gen IoT devices using Atmel’s ARM-based Cortex M3 and M4 based microcontrollers under the auspices of the Embedded Nucleus Innovate Program.

Launching maXTouch 1066T and 1068T – Extending product leadership in the large screen capacitive touch market with devices targeted at 7″ – 8.9″ high performance tablets.

Introducing the new automotive maXTouch S lineup – Targeting touchscreens up to 14″ in center consoles, navigation systems, radio interfaces and rear-seat entertainment systems.

Debuting the SmartConnect platform – Integrating Atmel’s ultra-low power microcontrollers (MCUs) and wireless connectivity solutions into turnkey solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Introducing new low-power ARM Cortex M0+ microcontrollers (SAM D21, D10 and D11) – Offering Atmel’s peripheral event system, support for capacitive touch button, slider and wheel user interfaces, multiple serial communications modules, along with a full-speed USB interface, as well as additional pin and memory combinations.

Unveiling new $79 SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – Providing a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design built around Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU.

Xplaining 8-bit development– Offering a development board for Makers and engineers based on Atmel’s 8-bit AVR technology.

Launching the ATPL230A – Introducing a Power Line Communications (PLC) modem designed to implement the physical layer of the PRIME standard (Power Line Intelligent Metrology Evolution).

Rolling out Atmel Studio 6.2 – Upgrading the popular integrated development environment for Atmel AVR and ARM based microcontrollers.

Ramping up with LIN – Extending Atmel’s automotive in-vehicle networking leadership position with the launch of next-generation, low-power local interconnect networking (LIN) systems.

Video: Building a smart cocktail shaker

Adafruit’s Tony DiCola has created a smart cocktail shaker capable of dispensing classy drinks with nothing less than accurate precision.

“The smart cocktail shaker is a project to help you easily mix drinks using an Arduino, a load cell from a cheap kitchen scale and an Android application,” DiCola explained in a detailed Adafruit tutorial.

“By measuring the weight of a cocktail shaker, an Arduino can send the amount of poured liquid to an Android application over a USB or bluetooth connection in real time. Making a drink is as easy as following the steps on screen – no more guessing or fumbling with measurements.”

As HackADay’s Brian Benchoff notes, DiCola connected a INA125 instrument amplifier to the load cell, instead of trying to interface with the electronics in the scale.

“[Meanwhile] an [Atmel-based] Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4) measures the weight on the load cell… With the known densities of gin, vermouth and Kahlua, Tony can get a very good idea of how much liquid is in the cocktail shaker.”

On the software side, Tony wrote an Android app for his tablet that communicates with the Arduino via Adafruit’s Bluefruit adapter.

“The app receives the current weight on the load cell, displays the current amount of liquor in the cocktail shaker and provides step-by-step instructions for making any cocktail,” Benchoff added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Adafruit’s detailed build tutorial here.

This Miracle Machine turns water into wine

Kevin Boyer and Phillip James have created a device that quite literally turns water into wine in just a few days using a low amount of heat and a specialized Atmel-based, Arduino-controlled environment.

“Initially we have sourced 6 wine types that The Miracle Machine and its smartphone app (iOS and Android) will help you make,” the duo explained on the project’s official website.

“These are a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and rich Chardonnay from Napa Valley, a cool climate Pinot Noir from Oregon, an aged Tuscan blend from Italy, Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma, and a delicate red and a steely white from Burgundy. We expect to add 5-10 more over the next 3 months.”

According to Boyer and James, customers will be able to buy the grape concentrate, yeast and the final sachet of ingredients once the product officially launches. Each kit will make a different type of wine, with the Miracle Machine team ultimately planning to roll out a low-cost ($10) monthly “wine” club kit.

So, how does the device work? Well, 

as Phillip James told Wine-Searcher, at the heart of the miracle machine lies the fermentation chamber.

“Obviously we’re keeping the exact science under wraps, but we can tell you the chamber uses an array of electrical sensors, transducers, heaters and pumps to provide a controlled environment for the primary and, as needed, secondary fermentation stages. For example, while a digital refractometer measures the sugar content of the liquid during the fermentation process, a custom-designed ceramic air-diffuser pumps filtered air under a regulated micro-oxygenated environment, aerating the wine and thus softening the tannins,” James explained.

“Meanwhile an ultrasonic transducer, positioned directly underneath the chamber, resonates effectively speeding up the flavour development of the wine. Each of these components, and others, are connected to an Arduino microcontroller that ensures the Miracle Machine is doing its job of making a fine wine of your creation in just a matter of days.”

Boyer and James say they plan on launching a Kickstarter campaign in the near future. Bits & Pieces will keep you posted, but in the meantime, you can check out the official Miracle Machine website here and Yahoo’s (UK) write up of the product here.

17 million wearable bands to ship in 2014

Basic and smart wearable band shipments increased dramatically in the second half of 2013, with analysts at Canalys predicting a significant acceleration of the trend in 2014. Indeed, over 17 million wearable bands are forecast to ship this year, driven primarily by devices with wearable-specific sensors.

According to Canalys analyst Chris Jones, basic band vendors boast greater wearable expertise and have shipped more numbers to date. Nevertheless, the category of smart bands is already growing faster than its basic counterpart.

“Increasingly, smart bands will adopt basic band features as the two categories converge,” he confirmed.

Though currently a relatively small market serving fitness enthusiasts, wearable bands represent a massive opportunity in the medical and wellness segment. 

Indeed, 2014 will be the year that wearables become a key consumer technology, with the smart band segment expected to reach 8 million annual shipments. More specifically, Canalys estimates this number will grow to over 23 million units by 2015 and over 45 million by 2017.

“The wearable band market is really about the consumerization of health,” said Canalys analyst Daniel Matte. “There will be exciting innovations that disrupt the medical industry this year, and with the increased awareness about personal well-being they will bring to users, having a computer on your wrist will become increasingly common.”

To be sure, Canalys analysts say high-margin smart bands that incorporate sophisticated sensor technology will offer vendors enormous profit potential.

“Android will be critical for developing the smart band app ecosystem, though significant changes will be required before it is suitable for wearable devices,” Matte concluded. “[We] expect Android to enter the smart band market soon in a meaningful way. [Of course], battery life and quality of sensor data will [also] be vital metrics of success for all smart bands.”