Tag Archives: Atmel | SMART Cortex-M3

Fuel Book turns your car into a smart car


This plug-and-play device provides fuel analysis, social territory mapping, self-diagnostics and more.


Who recalls the Seinfeld episode when Jerry and the gang are in search of Kramer’s car in a multi-level parking garage of a shopping mall? Most likely, you too have experienced a similar situation. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy-to-use system that could help identify the whereabouts of your whip instead of having to navigate around countless levels that all look alike?

Over the next five years, there will be millions of connected cars on the road capable of consuming, creating and sharing web-based data. But what about those older automobiles that lack Internet enablement? Fortunately, one Chennai-based startup has developed a plug-and-play device that can transform any ‘dumb’ vehicle into a smarter ride.

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The idea first came about after its creator, Deepak John J, ran out of fuel and wished his car had properly notified him before it went completely dry. With that in mind, Fuel Book was designed as a self-installable unit that, along with its accompanying app, can create a smart vehicle right through its diagnostic port. Once connected, a user simply launches the app and syncs the device over Bluetooth to open a new world of possibilities. Using the Fuel Book, a driver can interact with a wide-range of features such as fuel analysis and mileage tracking, among a number of others.

Thanks to the pint-sized gadget, a driver will have the ability to easily locate the nearest fuel station, unlock the door with a knock on their phone, and stay one step ahead of the game with self-diagnostics. Hate traffic? Trying to decide whether you should get off the next highway exit? Luckily, users can transform their horn into a smart sensing apparatus that can find out exactly what the hold-up is by sending a message to the driver in front — a feature which will surely come in handy for ambulances to notify users in its path to make way.

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Beyond that, Fuel Book features a social territory mapping capability that informs a driver 10 seconds prior to a bump in the road. A built-in accelerometer also measures and tracks a vehicle’s speed, which can be pretty useful in the event of an accident or if pulled-over. The device even immediately alerts a registered emergency number along with the appropriate GPS coordinates through SMS or another Fuel Book via its “tag mode,” which enables a user to share its location with others (especially for those traveling in a caravan).

What’s more, Fuel Book is equipped with a backend driver analysis feature called AI Engine that collects and sends user behavior data. In other words, the gadget will know based on user history if a driver will make a turn, or at which point in time they will accelerate and hit the brake. With access to this information, the AI Engine can provide a smart caution notification if trouble awaits.

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Built around an Atmel | SMART Cortex-M3 MCU, the compact gizmo is equipped with a three-axis accelerometer, a magnetometer and temperature sensor, and features both Bluetooth and RF connectivity along with NFC for pairing. Its mobile app is compatible with most newer iOS, Android and Windows smartphones, as well as Android Wear and Pebble smartwatches.

Want to bring that old 2005 Chevy Cavalier into the Internet of Things era? Head over to Fuel Book’s official Indiegogo page, where the team is currently seeking $50,000. Shipment is expected to begin in November 2015.

Elemental is the world’s first pressure controlled 3D printer

Designed by the crew at Australia-based startup Hardcotton, Elemental is the world’s first pressure controlled stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer.

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Powered by an Atmel | SMART ATSAM3X8E Cortex-M3 MCU, Elemental is destined to become one of the latest and greatest innovations in the consumer space thanks to its unique spin on 3D printing. The machine uses a patent-pending pressurization system to present a dynamic approach to once-traditional desktop SLA printing.

Whereas a vast majority of traditional devices rely upon a mechanical process to move a build platform away from the source of print production after each layer is printed, Elemental increases the volume of resin above the build platform. Once only found in low-end FDM machines, Makers will now be able to affordably create parts of complex geometries and intricate details necessary for professional grade design.

“We thought about what you need from a 3D printer before we thought about what we would develop,” a company rep writes.

By utilizing its pressure control technology, Elemental’s laser system can cure a layer of resin in a more accurate, efficient and quiet manner. According to Hardcotton, the first layer is cured onto the surface of the removable build platform in the center of the vat. The pressure control system enables the flow of material from one of the control chambers into the build chamber, thereby increasing the level of the resin by a certain, precise and extremely fine amount. The laser system then sets the next layer of resin to further create the object. This process is repeated until the object is completed.

“Pressure control provides an extremely high level of accuracy in printing layer upon layer during the print process,” the team explains. Impressively, 3DPrint.com notes that the entire process is extremely silent with no Z-axis movement, with no additional support needed, as the resin surrounding the printed object provides all the support required.

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The Elemental features a build area of up to 200mm x 200mm x 200mm, Z control accurate to 1 micron, 24-bit XY control resolution (variable through software), a 405nm laser, along with a stand-alone SDcard and Bluetooth functionality.

Hardcotton CEO Scott Pobihun says the Elemental fills the gap between low-end hobbyist machines with limited resolution and expensive high-end printers.

“There are many low-end 3D printers on the market that don’t have the capability to truly produce the high quality prints you’re looking to achieve. And those high-end printers that are able to produce high resolution prints are complex to configure and use, as well as being expensive.”

Interested in learning more about this ATSAM3X8E based device? Head on over to its official page here.

FlexSense is a deformable surface that makes your tablet smarter

The team at Microsoft Research has recently unveiled a new ultra-thin, transparent piece of bendable material embedded with sensors.

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Essentially, FlexSense is a self-sensing surface that can sit atop a tablet, like the Surface, and is capable of recognizing itself being folded or contorted. Upon being bent, the material accepts the deformation input and translates that information for the application in use.

FlexSense can be paired with tablets to provide users with what Microsoft dubs “2.5D input.” Any place you can imagine flexing or bending material, FlexSense can be applied. As the video below demonstrates, there are a wide-range of uses and opportunities, from paper-like animation to applying rendering effects in Photoshop.

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In addition, there are also some entertainment value associated with FlexSense. Just envision playing a video game where you can use the entire smart cover as a gaming controller, flapping the surface like a pair of wings, or peeling back the material to check for crossword puzzle answers.

As its team notes, “FlexSense is based on printed piezoelectric sensors, which can reconstruct complex deformations without the need for any external sensing, such as cameras. FlexSense provides a fully self-contained setup which improves mobility and is not affected from occlusions.”

Using only a sparse set of sensors, printed on the periphery of the surface substrate, the Microsoft researchers developed two new algorithms to interpret the 16 sensors built into FlexSense.

The team went on to add, “Every piezoelectric sensor creates a surface charge which correlates to the applied deformation. Since the total number of sensors in our layout is small, we can connect each individually using conductive silver ink to the driver board. This removes the issues associated with the active ma- trix described earlier.”

“Each sensor is connected to a LMC6482 CMOS rail-to-rail amplifier. These are placed on a small PCB board that is connected to the foil. Before the amplification the signals run through a low pass filter, which protects it against electrostatic discharge. After the amplification a second low pass filter protects the signal from anti-aliasing issues.”

Each signal then gets measured through a MAX127 12-bit data acquisition system which sends the data via a two-wire serial interface to an Atmel | SMART Cortex-M3 MCU, the SAM3X8E.

Those interested in attaining more information on the innovative project — which was done in collaboration with Christian Rendl and Michael Haller of Media Interaction Lab at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria — can access the entire report here.