Tag Archives: Arduino at Heart

littleBits announces bitLab, an App Store for hardware

Taking one step closer to its mission of “putting the power of electronics in the hands of everyone,” litteBits has announced the launch of bitLab, a marketplace for user-generated hardware. Comparable to Apple’s App Store, bitLab allows Makers to create their own littleBits modules and share them with burgeoning DIY community.


“When Apple launched the App Store, many apps were games, many were frivolous. I remember a lot of fart apps,” explained littleBits Founder and CEO Ayah Bdeir. “But now 6 years later, there are more than 1.3 million apps that have distributed nearly $15 billion to the software developer community. We believe the same thing will happen with hardware ­developers just need one common platform to develop on, a supply chain that powers it, and a marketplace for community and distribution.”

According to the company, anyone with a working prototype of a new Bit can submit it for community consideration. In contest-like fashion, littleBits will then select the ones receiving the most votes, examine them for viability and put them into production, with the creators receiving a 10% royalty.


“We’re breaking down the barriers of entering the field of hardware. We want to democratize the hardware industry, to revolutionize it and make it accessible,” Bdeir tells Forbes. While anyone with a laptop and a little coding skill can make an app, and 3D printing is opening up manufacturing, the hardware industry hasn’t gone through that. “It’s still largely closed, very top down, really prohibitive to non-engineers.”

In its latest blog, littleBits writes:

For the hardware community, the bitLab means our community can come together and develop on one common platform, add in a seemingly incremental innovation, and see the innovation multiply. The hardware developer community has often been distributed, decentralized and considered by the outside world to be secondary to the software developer community. We believe a big part of that is because the community has not had one common platform to develop on, with a supply chain as a backbone, coupled with a marketplace to grow its distribution. But even more importantly, we haven’t seen this happen in hardware because of one simple fact: making hardware modular is an extremely difficult and complex problem. It’s difficult to create a system, a product line, and a supply chain in which one module can be added to the others and work in every which way. Over the past many years, this is exactly what we have done with littleBits. We have made the largest modular hardware library in the world. With the bitLab, a hardware developer that has created an exciting new sensor circuit or has an idea for a new digital interaction can create a module (or multiple) and leverage the entire littleBits library with its sensors, switches, wireless transmitters, power, actuators and other modules without having to recreate them. Every new Bit multiplies the power of the rest of the modular platform. And it grows exponentially from there.

Similar to how the app store opened up Apple’s API to developers, littleBits has open the doors to a world of electronic modules, via its Hardware Development Kit that is now available. “It’s a proprietary connector basically creating entry points into the system,” Bdeir reveals to Fast Company. “With that and the rest of the HDK, which also includes a perf board, tinkerers can plug in whatever they can think up and make it work with other bits.”


In recent months, littleBits has taken huge strides to stretch the limits of imagination. Around Maker Faire Bay Area, the company launched its Arduino module. This programmable ATmega32u4 powered Arduino at Heart component enabled Makers to easily incorporate sketches into their littleBits circuits.

A few months later, they launched another pillar of “power,” the cloudBit. In what the company hoped would alter the perception of littleBits from toy to tool, the electronics kit manufacturer announced a new component that empowered any littleBits creation to the become an Internet-connected ‘thing’ without the need to solder, wire or program for basic projects.

Now, the newly-unveiled bitLab is the first of its kind in the field of electronics. “Even though it may seem obvious that hardware needs an app store, building a genuine app store that can allow every new “app” to interoperate with every other app and its underlying platform is complex,” the company writes.

bitLab is an evolutionary successor to dreamBits, an open forum where littleBits users can suggest new modules they’d like to see produced. While countless Makers have already showcased their creativity and added a number of ideas to the site, Bdeir is hoping bitLab will now experience a domino effect. In other words, as more Bits join the library, more people will think of different and new ideas.


Partners who took part in the bitLab beta include some of our friends as well as fellow Arduino At Heart members including Arduino’s Massimo Banzi, MaKey MaKey‘s Jay Silver, Bare Conductive‘s Matt Johnson, Korg‘s Tatsuya Takahashi, Gabotronics’ Gabriel Anzziani, Backyard Brains’ Greg Gage, and and Bleep Labs’ Dr. Bleep.

“We want people to say, ‘There’s a Bit for that,’ and if there isn’t one, they will make one,” Bdeir concludes. Interested in learning more? Read littleBits’ entire announcement here.

The Maker Movement continues to grow as a technological and educational revolution, demonstrating its true potential to today’s young Makers. Ayah Bdeir will be joining Massimo Banzi, Quin Etnyre, and Atmel’s Bob Martin and Daniel Ujvari for Saturday’s Maker Faire panel on the MAKE: Live Stage as they explore the ways in which DIY culture is influencing young Makers and helping to create tomorrow’s industry innovators.


Don’t forget to join the Atmel team in Queens this week for the 5th Annual World Maker Faire! Undoubtedly, this year will be amazing as an expected 750+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees head to the New York Hall of Science to see the latest DIY gizmos and gadgets, as well as a number of the Makers mentioned above. Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will put the spotlight on everything from Arduino to Arduino-related projects


OpenTracker v2 is a SAM3A8C-based GPS and GLONASS tracker

OpenTracker v2 — which made its Indiegogo debut back in June — has become the latest partner in the Arduino At Heart Program. The device is an open-source, commercial grade GPS/GLONASS vehicle tracker that is packed with a powerful 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 CPU (Atmel SAM3A8C), and equipped with a free web interface for tracking on both Google Maps and OpenStreetMap.


Whether it’s monitoring a single vehicle or a fleet, the Arduino-compatible OpenTracker v2 enables a user to divide the devices into groups for easier management of larger convoys. Users can track the location, speed, altitude, direction, and address of the vehicle, as well as save logs of location data for later use.

Ready to run right out-of-the-box, the OpenTracker v2 includes the same powerful 32-bit Atmel ARM controller as the Arduino Due, a GSM/GPRS modem for wireless connectivity, a GPS/GLONASS module with assisted-GPS, CAN-BUS, plenty of I/O, and a wide operating temperature range of -35°C to 80°C. Not only limited to being used as tracking device, the included CAN-BUS, plentiful I/O and on-board GSM/GPRS modem can be used to create countless apps, ranging from a CAN-BUS logger to a weather station with SMS notifications. The on-board GSM/GPRS modem also enables a user to change the tracker settings remotely using a mobile device and to transform the OpenTracker v2 into a completely different application where wireless data transfer is useful.


When describing the reason for selecting OpenTracker v2, its creators say that “adding GPS functionality to an Arduino application can be a tedious process and requires at least an additional GPS Shield and a GPS antenna. This adds considerable cost and size to the application. In addition, this setup only allows the creation of rudimentary GPS data logging applications without real-time tracking.” Fortunately, the Atmel-powered, all-in-one device is a much more cost-effective, easier-to-use solution than compiling the bill of materials and working through the challenging online interface development.


The thinner, more affordable second version comes equipped with several improved features, such as the powerful ARM Cortex-M3 controller and increased number of I/O options. Interested in learning more or funding this campaign? Head over to its official Indiegogo page here.

You can also learn more about the SAM3A8C as well as the other Atmel® | SMART™ line of ARM-based MCUs here.

PopPet is an Atmel-powered DIY bot kit

PopPet – which recently made its Kickstarter debut – is described by its creator as an “expandable, customizable and easy-to-assemble” robot kit powered by the Atmel’s ATmega8 microcontroller (MCU).


Designed by 19-year-old Maker Jaidyn Edwards, the Arduino-compatible DIY kit claims to differ from other platforms as “she is packed full of personality” – yet only slightly larger than a credit card, making the robot easy to tag along.

One of the prominent features of PopPet is its ability to be customized to suit you. You can easily swap out the look of PopPet with interchangeable faceplates and LED holes.

“Ages young and old love the look of PopPet, just a simple smile can do so much for adding personality to a robot.”


The creator reveals that PopPet will be an open source robot, enabling Makers to create their own faceplates, add-ons, wheels and anything else imagined. For those seeking a wider variety, all the necessary files to produce your own will be provided.

“Not everyone has access to a laser cutter, so there will also be slightly modified files available to fit the tolerances found on most 3D printers,” a PopPet rep explains.


According to its Kickstarter page, PopPet is pre-loaded with a basic obstacle avoidance routine.


Aside from Atmel’s ATmega8 microcontroller, key technical specs and features include::

  • Input voltage range: 5.4V ~ 9V
  • Low dropout voltage: 250mV @ 500mA, 450mV @ 1A
  • Onboard high-performance dual 2A independent MOSFET H-bridge motor driver
  • PWM motor speed control
  • Bluetooth module interface (standard Otani Electronics Bluetooth module)
  • Onboard USB to serial chip, compatible with Arduino
  • MOSFET anti-reverse circuit
  • Power/Signal Interface available on all IO

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered PopBet? You can check out the project’s official Kickstarter page here.

Engadget and TechCrunch talk LittleBits Arduino

Yesterday, LittleBits debuted a programmable ATmega32u4-powered Arduino at Heart Module – allowing Makers to easily incorporate sketches into their littleBits circuits. The stand-alone Arduino module can be snapped up for $36, although LittleBits is currently offering an $89 starter bundle that includes a total of 8 prototyping modules.

The LittleBits Arduino module launch has been covered by a number of prominent publications, including TechCrunch, Engadget, Ars Technica, PC World, LifeHacker, TheNextWeb and Geeky Gadgets.

Jon Fingas, Engadget 

“Getting your feet wet with programmable hardware can be tricky; even if you’re comfortable with coding, you may not want to break out the soldering iron just to build a usable device. LittleBits is aware of just how intimidating these make-it-yourself gadgets can be, so it has just launched its first software-programmable module, the Arduino at Heart.

“As the name implies, it’s an Arduino core (the same as the Leonardo) designed to fit into LittleBits’ simple, building block approach to circuit boards. If you want to attach a light, motor or sensor to the Arduino board, you just snap it on — you can spend more of your time coding rather than dealing with wiring and other hardware hassles.”

Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch 

“There’s a reason why one of Google’s top suggestions for ‘littleBits’ is ‘littleBits Arduino.’ The littleBits idea is great — but once a particularly enthusiastic user hit the limits of what their kit could do, the next step (learning to use a standalone Arduino board, which meant also learning proper circuitry, soldering, etc.) was suddenly a pretty big one.

“[That is why] littleBits is introducing an Arduino module into the mix. It’ll snap right into place — no soldering required — just like the other littleBits modules, with one big difference: it’s programmable. You get the programmability of an Arduino, without having to learn the myriad other prerequisite skills. You jack into it via the onboard microUSB port, upload your programming via the standard Arduino IDE, and all of your littleBits modules fall in line.”

Agam Shah, PCWorld  

“Modules for sound and light can be plugged or swapped out in Arduino at Heart for interactive digital art. The board can also be used for input when playing Pong or to show numbers on a simple LED display. Beyond basic electronics, Arduino at Heart can also be used to prototype robots. The servo motor can help build a moving robot and LittleBits is making a robot with an animatronic hand that can play the rock, paper, scissors game.

“Another goal of the kit is to teach hardware basics, including the operation of ports, polarity of LEDs, input-output and other concepts, which are important when writing software to control electronics. The Arduino at Heart board is based on an ATMega328 microcontroller.”

Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica

“The new LittleBits Arduino At Heart module, available on its own or as part of an Arduino Starter Bundle, is a simplified version of the Arduino Leonardo… Using the same ATmega32u4 microcontroller processor as the Leonardo, it pares down the number of inputs and outputs in exchange for the snap-together connections.

“Once you’ve outgrown the snap-on inputs and outputs and want to connect non-LittleBits sensors or outputs, the Arduino At Heart board also has additional breakout ‘pins’ on the board itself. The board also includes a USB connector for programming and connection to a PC as a Human Interface Device (HID) keyboard or mouse.”

Roberto Baldwin, TheNextWeb

“The Arduino has become the darling of the electronics platforming world, with its easy to use software and hardware. The littleBits magnetically connected electronics modules have made a splash of their own in the world of electronic tinkerers. So it was just a matter of time before these two came together.


“[Yesterday], littleBits introduced the Arduino at Heart module. The new programmable module connects to the entire line of littleBits magnetic modules that include lights, speakers, motors, switches, sensors and more. Like the standalone Arduino, hardware and software developers can write tiny programs for the device with the Arduino programming language. The programs are then loaded onto the module via a USB connection.”

Interested in learning more? You can find additional information about the new LittleBits module here.

CROMATICA lamp fuses light and sound

Powered by an Atmel based Arduino board, CROMATICA creates an ambient experience by fusing light and sound. 

This digital hybrid – which acts as a both a table lamp and speaker – is controlled via a gestural interface and remotely via an app.


“The name has a story. The word ‘Cromatica’ (chromatic in English) comes from the Greek ‘Chroma’ (color). It is used to describe the phenomenon of light but is also common in musical harmony,” a Digital Habits rep explained in a recent CrowdRooster post.


“The Chromatic scale is a specific musical scale consisting of all twelve semitones of the tempered system. We wanted an object that combined music and light, system and warmth. CROMATICA was the perfect name.”

CROMATICA is equipped with white and colored RGB dimmable light to create ambient effects. Light is provided by the combination of two types of LED lighting: white for practical comfort lighting and RGB to create an adjustable array of colored lighting. Meanwhile, warm white lighting creates a pleasant tone; ideal for reading it can be dimmed to produce convivial, welcoming atmospheres. In addition, the two lighting systems are capable of being regulated independently and mixed to produce an infinity of combinations.

So, how does it work? Well, each individual function can be controlled with simple hand gestures, in case CROMATICA isn’t connected or a smartphone isn’t in reach.

“The upper face is embedded with a sophisticated control system consisting of matrix of cap-sense sensors; this system allows CROMATICA to interpret your movements so that any gesture is recognized as a command,” the Digital Habits rep continued.

“Each individual gesture was studied and chosen for maximum simplicity and natural spontaneity; instruction books or manuals are not necessary, each command is natural yet simple because it refers to instinctive gestures.”

More specifically, touching the middle of the circle turns the light on and off. Intensity can be regulated by simply prolonging contact with the device. When CROMATICA is being used as a sound system, dragging a finger on the circle on the upper part of the device will increase or reduce the volume. To ‘pause’, place the hand and fingers on the top of the lamp.


On the sound side, a microphone integrated in the front panel allows the device to be used as a speaker-phone when the handpiece is connected to the lamp. Meaning, the call can be answered or terminated by simply touching the upper part of the lamp. 

CROMATICA is also a powerful Bluetooth speaker with the sound managed by a 7w amplifier. Sound is produced via a pair of loudspeakers, a 3” woofer with a neodymium magnet for the optimal response to the medium-low frequencies and a 1.5” tweeter for crystal clear reproduction of the higher frequencies.

Additional key features and specs include:

  • LED WHITE source, 250 lm, 3000K, 110°, CRI 85
  • Speakers – 3”speaker low/mid range and 2” tweeter
  • Amplification – 2×6 W (12V/8 Ω)
  • Frequency Response: 85 Hz to 20 kHz
  • PLUG supply 12v 2A
  • USB port
Input: 100 – 240 V , 50/60 Hz
Output: 12 V CC, 2 A
  • USB port to upload firmware
  • USB port to charge devices such as smartphones with 5V supply

Interested in learning more? You can check out CROMATICA’s official page here.