Tag Archives: Bluetooth LE

This wearable device lets you control objects by simply looking at them

Designed with astronauts in mind, the Eye of Horus is an open-source platform that lets wearers interact with any device by just looking at it. 

In recent months, we’ve seen quite a few 3D printing advancements stem from the aerospace industry, most notably Made In Space’s efforts to bring additive manufacturing into orbit as well as Rocket Lab’s battery-powered rocket engine destined for blast off. Now, a new project — which was created as part the 2015 International Space Apps Challenge — has employed 3D printers to help NASA engineers and astronauts safely complete tasks at hand.


While in space, engineers and astronauts are often forced to abruptly stop an activity to operate computers or some other tools, which could result in a loss of time that could ultimately jeopardize a mission. In an effort to solve this conundrum, a team from the Spain-based Makeroni incubator has set out to create a game-changing wearable that would enable these researchers to inteact with objects by simply looking at them. And adding to the impressiveness of the project, it was built in just two days.

Eye of Horus is a 3D-printed, open-source platform that allows a user to control devices via sight. The gadget in focus is identified using light beacons (similar to LiFi technology), which emit various frequency pulses for each device (whether that’s a PC, camera, TV or microwave). A frontal camera detects this light, differentiates and wirelessly communicates with the objects as the wearer glances at them.


As you can imagine, not only would this provide tremendous assistance to those in zero-G, but could be applied in a number of real world settings — particularly assisting those with mobility problems, drivers on the road who otherwise would have to take their hand of the wheel to interact with a device and gamers looking for an eye-controlled mouse.

Aside from its printed circuit board and software components, the Eye of Horus was created entirely by using 3D printing. Inside a custom enclosure lie a serial bluetooth 4.0 BLE Module, a relay control module, an infrared LED and n an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328). Meanwhile, the software is divided in two blocks: a server program (VoCore) running in the Eye of Horus and client in a laptop computer.

So what does the future hold for this incredible device? Its creators have their sights set on continuing the development of their eye-tracking devices and perhaps even a Kickstarter launch in the coming months. In the meantime, you can read up on their entire project here.

MetaWear is a mini wearable sensor platform

MetaWear is a tiny BLE module that can power complete solutions that are merely the size of a button. 

MetaWear is a tiny wireless sensor platform that enables Makers to build and program their Internet of Things projects right from their smartphones. Recently launched on Kickstarter, the platform works by connecting to any product to a mobile device via Bluetooth LE, then logging or streaming six-axis of motion and environmental data.


Packed with a number of sensors, the lightweight, versatile board is capable of measuring an assortment of information, ranging from acceleration and orientation, to angular velocity and temperature, to pressure and altitude. This makes it applicable to nearly every setting and activity, such as health and fitness, gaming, navigation and sports. Once collected, MetaWear displays the data in real-time with the touch of a button and processes it with the help of its embedded filters. From there, the data can be exported into a CSV file and used in tools like Excel and Python for further analysis and algorithm development.


For instance, users can study their football throw or baseball swing by turning MetaWear into a wearable that can track form or speed of the ball. Beyond that, the board can be embedded into a ski to review a day at the slopes or tagged along inside a backpack during a hike to capture data at its peak.

What’s nice is that MetaWear transforms a smartphone into the ultimate developer’s tool — a programmer and debugger all in one. This permits users to program the board through its accompanying mobile SDK, which communicates with the board via BLE, and then enables them to command it to do just about anything.


“MetaWear is IF THIS THEN THAT for Bluetooth and sensors,” the team writes. “You don’t need to mess around with a firmware engineer, complicated IDEs, expensive debuggers, or embedded programming. Our mobile SDK (iOS and Android) gives you the power to send instructions to the board that are temporary or permanent.”

Based on an ARM Cortex-M0 processor with 256KB of Flash and 16KB of RAM, the board features a rechargeable battery circuit with a microUSB port, exposed GPIOs and an I2C bus for additional sensors, a built-in LED and a push-button. What’s more, the wireless platform has an approximate range of 100 feet and three weeks of continous operation (and six months of idle time) on a single charge.


Interested? Currently live on Kickstarter, MbientLab is seeking $5,000. Shipment is expected to begin in July 2015.

Glow lets you feel the beat while lighting up the street

Tron-like Glow headphones pulse to the music and your heart. 

Anyone who has ever attended an electronic dance concert or a nightclub knows that music and vibrant lights go together like a rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong. Well, a Bay Area-based startup is now converging these two into a slick set of earbuds that have officially launched on Kickstarter.


Aptly dubbed Glow, the first-ever smart headphones with laser light pulse brilliantly (in red, green and blue) to the beat of your favorite music or to the rhythm of your heart. An intuitive 5-way controller communicates with your phone over Bluetooth LE, allowing you to not only play/pause tunes, but activate apps such as Google Now, make calls, send texts and snap pictures as well.


The earbuds’ cords are comprised of Corning’s Fibrance material, which conducts laser light through flexible glass fibers. The pliability of Fibrance allows Glow to maintain its brightness and light uniformity no matter how much you curve, wrap and twist it. At the core of its remote lies an ARM-based MCU along with a built-in microphone, a 5mW laser diode, a tactile switch, a microUSB slot, and a LiPo rechargeable battery.


Currently live on Kickstarter, Glow has already well exceeded its $100,000 goal. However, the team notes that some of its desired features require additional development efforts and hitting a number of stretch goals will ensure that they can be implemented. If the crowdfunding campaign hits $500,000, the team will add bring full iPhone support. If it reaches $750,000, the startup hopes to make Glow dance to your steps and movement using the device’s built-in accelerometer. $1 million? The headphones will then include a built-in heart rate monitor.

“Music is already a very expressive medium, so having light synchronize with the music makes the experience that much better,” a company rep explained.

After watching the video above, we couldn’t help but reminisce about the ATmega32U4 based motion-activated speed suit we featured on Bits & Pieces last year. Similar to Glow for safe late night runs, the DIY suit completely illuminated when the wearer began to run, while flashed every time the wearer walked.

Ninja Sphere is the brain to your new smart home

Back in January, the Ninja Blocks team launched a Kickstarter campaign for their highly-anticipated Ninja Sphere device, successfully garnering nearly $600,000 above their crowdfunding goal. What makes this platform so desirable? Not only does Ninja support a huge assortment of devices, but because of its its open source approach, nearly anyone can write and share a driver to connect a gadget to their sphere.


With Ninja Sphere, users have abilityUsing GPS, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth LE (Low Energy, Bluetooth 4.0), Ninja Sphere is able to locate and connect each of the smart devices throughout your home. Ninja Sphere is able to detect both GPS and Bluetooth LE signals and their range, using “trilateration” to create a map of smart devices in your home. Ninja Sphere is meant to remove the step between the smart home’s smart devices and you having an intuitive experience. Instead of requiring a new app for every new device, Ninja Sphere keeps things simple.


The Sphere has seemingly limitless possibilities to control your home. It can alert you if you walk out of the door without your keys or if you happen to leave the oven on. It can even learn your family’s patterns over time and adapt to your daily routine. The Sphere is an evolution of the earlier Ninja Blocks device, but takes that early machine’s potential to another stratosphere. Through connectivity via the Internet of Things, the Sphere unit not only has the ability to monitor your home environment, but the device itself functions as a customizable remote. With the Sphere, a user can engage touch controls and basic gesture movements to stay up to date with your surroundings. You can page through informational updates, or assign customized actions to taps, swirls, and swipes.

“Since the Sphere can connect to BLE devices, it can locate pets and items tagged with those small BLE locators like Gecko. It can even tell you if one of the things you’ve tagged has been moved and gives you the option to activate cameras in the room, if available. The device can also serve as a hub for Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo, and Dropcam, among other high-tech systems for the home,” Engadget’‘s Mariella Moon writes. Based on the device’s original Kickstarter page, these are but some of the things the Sphere can do, as it comes equipped with ZigBee radio for more advanced home automation and even comes with a USB port that allows for Arduino-based projects to be linked to the system.

Among other uses, these include:

  • Be alerted if you have left home and left an appliance on, and easily turn it of, such as heaters/lamps/AV equipment
  • Check in on your dog/cat while you’re away from home
  • See who is at home/away
  • See exactly where your lost wallet/keys are located
  • Be alerted if a valuable is being moved and you’re not at home
  • Have useful information pushed into your ambient environment via the LED matrix, such as the weather or energy usage of your appliances – page through this information using hand gestures
  • Consolidated control of your lights, media, and environment devices via natural gestures on top of the spheramid
  • Consolidated control of your devices via one native application.
  • Create ‘if this then that’ style rules against presence, location, time, energy usage controlling your appliances or alerting you via your phone


The Ninja Blocks team touts the Sphere as a “brain for your home” and that may be the best way to describe the flashy white unit. Whether it is controlling the temperature of your toddler’s room, or alerting you to the whereabouts of your beloved family dog, the Sphere can be the focal point of the smart home of the future.

The Sphere is currently in a pre-order stage and this home “brain” could be yours for just $329. For more information about the IoT hub, you can click over to the Ninja Sphere site to see a full breakdown of the product.