Tag Archives: Bluetooth Low Energy

Bluefruit LE Micro is a BLE board for Makers

Bluetooth Low Energy + ATmega32U4 = Bluefruit LE Micro 

Makers who are looking to create a Bluetooth-enabled project will be excited to learn of Adafruit’s latest product. The newly-unveiled Bluefruit LE Micro rolls the versatility of the ATmega32U4 MCU and the wireless connectivity of the SPI Bluefruit LE Friend all into one board.


What’s nice is that the Bluefruit LE Micro makes is easier than ever to add BLE capabilities to any number of DIY projects. Makers can program the ATmega32U4 over USB using its built-in USB bootloader, either directly with AVRDUDE or the Arduino IDE. The board runs at a 8MHz clock speed, boasts a logic level of 3.3V for compatibility with a wide range of sensors, and features more than 20 GPIO pins, including I2C, SPI, a UART and six analog inputs. On top of that, the chip packs 28KB of Flash, 2KB of RAM, and of course, native USB for programming and communication.

As Adafruit points out, Makers can add a rechargeable LiPo battery with the help of a LiPoly backpack as well. Simply solder it on top of the Bluefruit LE Micro and it’ll juice up the battery via the microUSB connector. When the USB is unplugged, it will run off the battery.

“The Bluefruit LE module is an nRF51822 chipset from Nordic, programmed with multi-function code that can do quite a lot! For most people, they’ll be very happy to use the standard Nordic UART RX/TX connection profile. In this profile, the Bluefruit acts as a data pipe, that can ‘transparently’ transmit back and forth from your iOS or Android device.”


“Thanks to an easy-to-learn AT command set, Makers will have total control over how the device behaves, including the ability to define and manipulate your own GATT Services and Characteristics, or change the way that the device advertises itself for other Bluetooth Low Energy devices to see. You can also use the AT commands to query the die temperature, check the battery voltage, and more, check the connection RSSI or MAC address, and tons more.”

Additionally, the Bluefruit app enables Makers to quickly prototype their projects by using their iOS or Android device as a controller. Adafruit has a color picker, a quaternion/accelerometer/gyro/magnetometer, an eight-button gamepad and a GPS locator. This data can be read over BLE and relayed to the on-board ATmega32U4 for processing.


Interested in this un-BLE-ievable board? Head over to Adafruit’s official page to order yours.

This device offers safety at the touch of a button

Wearsafe Tag instantly alerts, informs and connects your most trusted network so they can send help when you need it.

We’ve come a long way since the days of LifeAlert’s earliest commercials with a helpless Mrs. Fletcher yelling, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” And though technology has certainly progressed over the years, one thing that continues to remain constant is the reassurance that our loved ones are kept safe. Whether it’s a child, an elder or a significant other, Wearsafe is just the platform to help provide you with a peace of mind.


The Wearsafe Tag is a small, unobtrusive accessory that can be thrown in a pocket, clipped onto a belt or worn as a lanyard around the neck. Ideal for just about everyone — whether a frequent traveler, an adventurous hiker or a freshman in college — it’s super simple to use. First, you create a trusted network of friends and family for any situation, and with a press of a button, the one-touch lifeline sends an alert to them in scenarios that may not warrant taking out a smartphone.

The Tag works by pairing with your smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy to connect with an accompanying app. Once activated, Wearsafe puts the mobile device to work by tracking the user’s GPS location, rate of speed and even recording the last minute of conversations. When pressed, the button will send this information by way of a text message, email and screen notification to the members of your pre-defined network.


Studies reveal that in times of distress, even if your smartphone is taken away, it will typically remain within 35 feet of the owner. With this in mind, the Wearsafe Tag boasts a range of up to 200 feet to ensure you’re connected and able to send out an alert. What’s more, a private chat can also be set up between contacts, allowing them to coordinate responses. Anytime a call for help is transmitted, you will be informed that the alert was successfully sent via a silent vibration, and the Tag offers feedback each time someone opens the message to respond. You can even program different networks for different occasions, like one for home, one for school and another for business trips. This way, depending on where you are, alerts will go to the most relevant people.

The water-resistant Tag houses a Bluetooth Smart module and is powered by coin cell battery that can last about six months with regular use. Aside from that, Wearsafe will soon integrate with other gadgets such as your fitness bands and smartwatches.


Shortly after launch, you will be able to use the Pebble smartwatch or the new Pebble Time watch to send an alert.  In addition, compatibility with Garmin, the Apple Watch and Android Wear will be available in the very near future.  Our goal is to make integrating Wearsafe into your life as easy as possible. The future of wearables is limitless, and we’ll continue to work to ensure that Wearsafe will work with whatever wearable you choose,” its creators write.

Sound like a safety device you’d like to have? Head over to its Kickstarter page, where the Wearsafe Labs is currently seeking $75,000. The first batch of units is expected to begin shipping in September 2015.

How Bluetooth beacons can put an end to QR codes

Bluetooth beacons can enhance experiences in a way that is truly indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke once stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” something that holds true when it comes to our ever-connected world. Take a look around and you will surely notice that the Internet of Things phenomenon is growing quite rapidly. So much so that some adopters have become a part of the IoT without even knowing. Many times, these cloud-based data processing solutions appear to the user as only a familiar webpage or mobile application.

The Internet of Things phenomenon is growing quickly around us.

Part of making IoT ubiquitous and nearly magical is awareness of where you are. GPS and cellular location can certainly do a great job outdoors. Cell tower-based location can give a very rough prediction of location indoors or outdoors. Using GPS or tower location, it is likely that an application running on a mobile device would know that you just walked into a particular store or venue.

But what happens if you need to know a more precise location inside? Take for instance, retailers and venues, who want to deliver very specific content based on the exact location of a customer, like a promotion for a particular product on a nearby shelf.

Today, many museums and public venues, such as malls and arenas, have strategically employed QR code barcodes to allow for on-demand access to location-specific information. Patrons can scan the code and automatically launch cloud-based content into an app or browser that is related to particular exhibits and locations. As great as it may be, I have come to realize that it is a real pain because it requires scanning the QR code at every exhibit. For me, this involves entering my PIN to unlock my cellphone, then looking for my QR code scanner app. This takes my attention away from my family and the overall museum experience. Usually by the time I have accessed the information, my family has moved on to the next exhibit without me.

I recently visited the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores. It is a nice aquarium with thousands of examples of aquatic life from North Carolina’s many inland freshwater bodies, as well as the sea in smaller exhibits cumulating in the large 300,000-gallon tank holding a replica of the German U-352 that was sunken off the coast of North Carolina during WWII. What’s more, there is a 50,000-gallon installation that re-creates the scene as divers discovered the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, a ship once commanded by the most infamous pirate of them all – Blackbeard. The ship was last seen sinking off the North Carolina coast in 1718. Case in point: as with most exhibits, there are stories to be told that are specific to each one. Getting easy access to those stories easily enhances the overall visitor experience.

I noticed that several of the smaller exhibits at the NC Aquarium had interactive electronic experiences that were not working because they had fallen into disrepair.

I had noticed that several of the smaller exhibits at the North Carolina Aquarium featured interactive electronic experiences that weren’t working because they had fallen into disrepair. A prime example was the amphibian exhibit, which you can press an old-fashioned button and hear what a frog call sounds like.

I can imagine the electronics behind this antiquated pushbutton: probably a voice recorder circuit from the 1990s along with a power supply and speaker. The button most likely stopped working after a few thousand kids pressed it dozens of times each, or the contacts became oxidized and non-conducting because the current through the switch was insufficient to keep the oxidation burned off. Design of switch circuits is another topic and one that hopefully will need to be addressed much less going forward thanks to innovations like capacitive touch for buttons, sliders, wheels, and other user interface elements.


In this case, the old-school pushbutton that doesn’t work is far from advanced, let alone “indistinguishable from magic.” And for that matter, the QR codes strategically placed at exhibits are clunky as well.

Instead, what if there were little radio transmitters at each exhibit that your mobile device could detect and reliably determine location? As you are well aware, your mobile device comes equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios, as well as GPS, cellular and NFC. Of these technologies, we can use Bluetooth to interact with the exhibits by letting the phone seamlessly know where in the building it is located. Introducing self-contained Bluetooth Smart Beacons or iBeacons as a solution to this problem should not be difficult.

These beacons consist of a power source, a Bluetooth Smart radio and an antenna, all housed inside an enclosure. Beacons work by sending out a packet of data at regular intervals, called the advertising interval. In a museum or aquarium where people walk around, the advertising interval could be one second or more. With an advertising interval of a second, a Bluetooth Smart beacon using Atmel’s BTLC1000 SoC can operate at an average current of under 7 µA and last up to four years on a low-cost CR2032 Lithium coin-cell or longer on a pair of AAA batteries. And the best part is that there are no moving parts — nothing to be loaded onto the beacon except a unique ID or serial number associated with the specific location in the museum or other venue. And the technology is real today. In fact, beacons from Apple (known as iBeacons) are already being deployed in select retail locations such as Disney stores and throughout their own Apple stores. Some iBeacons apps simply run on iPhones and iPads, while others use dedicated low-power and low-cost hardware.


Let’s consider the entire system and the lifecycle cost of a location-based system of beacons and a smartphone application versus individual content loaded at particular exhibit locations. In this scenario, the largest upfront cost of the solution will be that of developing the website and/or the app. The price of the beacons will be negligible by comparison.

Deployment of the beacons can be accomplished using a different app that can register each beacon to a location and associate it with specific content. Once deployed, the beacons need not be reprogrammed or upgraded. Their ID is simply linked to content located on a server, which can be updated whenever necessary.

Another nice feature of this system is that trained employees are accustomed to loading content onto web servers. There are very few people who are adept at re-recording audio files onto a 20-year-old talking box or repairing it’s worn out pushbutton. Deployment of the app would be done through the app stores for Google, Apple and other phone OS suppliers. Maybe you could even get started by scanning a single QR code when you enter the venue. But that would be the last of the dreaded QR codes you would need to scan.

Using Bluetooth beacons, an experience such as the North Carolina Aquarium could actually be enhanced by technology in a way that is truly indistinguishable from magic. Some other applications, many of them not new, that I think could benefit from this technology include:

  • Sports like skating, motorsports, and swimming/diving: to enhance safety and enjoyment.
  • Retail stores: to provide special discounts and on-the-spot information.
  • Car dealerships: to offer information to those driving by.
  • Amusement parks: to advise patrons about waiting times or to help staff manage crowd traffic.
  • Art galleries: to improve spectators’ experiences without taking anything visual away from the exhibits by cluttering the gallery with QR codes.
  • In the dining room: Based on being near a beacon, the entire family’s devices can go into a silent “family time” mode that would turn off ringers and even disable texting. Similarly, restaurants, churches, funeral homes, conference rooms and other settings could implement an automatic cellphone quiet zone for those who didn’t want to forget to turn off their ringers.
  • At home or in the car: to customize the operation of a phone or tablet in specific ways based on a person’s preferences.
  • Public buildings or on streets: to ease wayfinding for the visually-impaired.
  • Senior centers: to help the elderly or those with disabilities regain independence by pairing with a wearable device.

Coincidentally, I saw this on the way home the other day. While I still don’t know any details, the concept of using beacons got me thinking.


What are the chances that some will pull my car over, get out, and scan the QR code on this outdoor sign? If like me, probably slim to none. The same goes for those who are looking to buy real estate and are driving in their vehicles. What good is the QR code to you in this situation?


Unless I’m walking or want to go through the trouble of getting out of my vehicle to scan the sign, or worse yet try and scan the sign while driving, I probably won’t utilize the attached QR code. Using beacons will not only eliminate risks, but will expedite the process altogether. What if we enable the real estate apps with access to the mobile device’s Bluetooth? Now we can look for Bluetooth beacons placed strategically at properties that are for sale and collect information about properties without getting out of the vehicle, and even more importantly, without taking our eyes off the road.

There is enormous potential for the use of Bluetooth Smart beacons anywhere signs are posted and wherever further information is available online. The real estate market is just one of many example use cases, where the implementation of beacons could be a key differentiator for companies willing to become early adopters.

You do have to focus on the revenue generating applications, but there are countless other applications where QR codes located on larger signs could be replaced by beacons to make it easier to access information and reduce the total size and number of signs.

One example is this QR code-equipped sign to encourage people to walk instead of driving their cars…


Or this one that provides fitness information to those taking a stroll along the public greenway trail…


These are just a few the ways that Bluetooth beacons can help make the world a better place. A new thinking in terms of apps and getting people to install them is necessary for success. However, if the value of the information becomes high enough, it will happen. Hopefully you will think of more applications and ways to design Bluetooth Smart beacons to support them. And when you do, be sure to look at the lowest power and lowest total bill-of-material cost solutions from Atmel.

Squirco is a smart home system and sensor network

Maker develops a smart home system with self-learning capabilities, using sensors hidden in every room.

Undoubtedly, the rise of the Internet of Things has ushered in a big wave of smart devices. Packed with sensors, these gadgets will ultimately revolutionize the way in which people go about their daily lives — at work, in the car and at home. With respect to the latter, a recent Hackaday Prize entrant by the name of Steven points that there are two basic building blocks for constructing a connected home: a sensor network and an A.I.-based control system. In other words, a smart house can only be “smart” when a complete set of information is sent to the A.I., which in turn, figures out what to do autonomously. Otherwise, it just becomes another thing to point a remote control at.


“Instead of automating anything, all they give you is the power of remote control. These systems also have little to no intelligence, and mostly rely on the users to set up every minuscule detail about how the system should operate. As a result, a tremendous amount of work is added to the user (which completely defeats the purpose of a smart home system), and sealing off regular, non-tech users from joining the fray,” Steven writes.

While there are a number of sensors available on the market today, a vast majority are battery-powered and are far too conspicuous to be adorning the walls. With that in mind, the Maker has developed a new approach with his self-learning Squirco Smart Home System that uses a series of sensors hidden within light switches throughout each room.


Why light switches, you may ask? “They are plugged into the mains, which means they never run out of power. They are present in every room, which means the data set will be complete. They are inconspicuous, because they’re everywhere,” Steven explains.

The Maker has his sights on curating a complete set of data that would be provided to an A.I. unit and used to learn in-home behaviors. This basic set of information includes lighting conditions, temperature and humidity and human presence.


The system itself is based on an ATmega256RFR2 along with a Bluetooth Low Energy MCU. With this, Steven has managed to enable automatic smart bulb discovery and pairing, light use pattern learning, precise climate control with his Nest thermostat, presence learning that allows messages to be sent to a smartphone when someone is detected in or around the home, as well as a ‘vacation mode’ which triggers lights to make it appear as though someone is home while away. Beyond that, he has embedded an iBeacon in each switch, along with the learned usage patterns, to put the most relevant lighting control right at a user’s finger tip.

The electronics are all housed inside a 3D-printed case, while powered via microUSB. In order to simplify the user experience, Steven decided to forgo gesture control and instead leave it to pushing the button. He adds, “It was very important to get the feel of the click just right. The click had to have a sharp, tactile feel, and also have the right amount of travel.”


Over the course of his prototyping process, Steven has modified various components, which he elaborately lists in his Hackaday.io page’s log section. Among those tweaks included moving around its LEDs and PIR, repositioning pin headers, and even toying around with an ATtiny85 to control the relay. Want to learn more about the project? Head over to its official page here.

Pet Tutor Blu is a universal smart training and game system for dogs

Pet Tutor Blu combines a BLE-enabled feeder and a mobile app to make an advanced game-and-training station for you and your pet.

As lovable as they may be, dogs can sometimes be a challenge to live with. Between excessive barking, chewing things, going to the bathroom inside the house, rummaging through the trash, eating too fast or suffering with separation anxiety, reward-based training has become a proven technique in an helping curb these issues.


Developed with this in mind, Smart Animal Training Systems has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Pet Tutor Blua wireless system consisting of a feeder and a LightBlue Bean-powered (ATmega328P) remote that trains, rewards and provides hours of fun and interactive play for man’s best friend.

The aptly named Pet Tutor Blu combines the many benefits of its earliest predecessors with some of today’s most advanced technology. This includes rewarding good behavior with strategically timed treats, calming a fearful dog with remote-controlled food delivery, creating personalized training protocols and feeding schedules, adding a webcam, and expanding the capabilities of other Internet-enabled accessories, all through an accompanying mobile app (available on both iOS and Android).


In addition, the next-gen system comes with an optional, ATmega328P based Smart Clicker that can transform ordinary dog toys into smart training tools. Employing the scientifically proven technique of clicker training, the gadget features an on-board computer tasked with displaying feedback on timing, rewards and success rates to enhance the effectiveness of training. Meanwhile, a tilt sensor embedded inside the Smart Clicker triggers the feeder located in close proximity, encouraging the dog to run back and forth between the feeder and the toy.

Pet Tutor Blu also features an accompanying app, which allows users to control multiple feeders individually or up to eight simultaneously, set feeder times and training parameters, customize the Smart Clicker with preferred sounds and volumes, as well as access the app library for newly-connected objects.


What’s more, those who’ve ever had an idea for a training program or game can now do so. Designed with an open architecture, Makers and developers have the ability to create new games, apps and training programs for their beloved pet using its accompanying API. Beyond that, Pet Tutor Blu features a plethora of exciting games not only for the pet, but the owner too, like Timing Tutor that sharpens a user’s training precision.

Have a pup you’d like to train? Hurry over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Smart Animal Training Systems crew is currently seeking $30,000. Shipment is expected to begin in December 2015 — just in time for the holidays!

Musio is an AI robot designed to learn, adapt and grow with you

Meet the Musio, an Arduino-compatible, artificially intelligent robot that evolves with you and makes your home smarter.

If it’s up to one California-based startup, the next member of your family won’t be a baby brother or sister, nor will it be a furry four-legged animal. Instead, the AKAStudy crew believes it may very well be an artificially intelligent robot that can engage and evolve with its users. In what would appear to be a mix between Joaquin Phoenix’s digital companion Samantha from Her and the iPhone’s knowledge navigator Siri, Musio is an AI personal assistant that is capable of holding natural conversations, sharing emotions, growing wiser with age and communicating with connected objects in its environment.


Musio is comprised of three different brains — simple, smart and genius — that vary in terms of complexity, memory, battery and speed. For instance, simple merely features a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, 16GB of memory, a 1800mAh battery, all while lacking any wireless functionality. Genius, on the other hand, boasts a 2.5GHz quad-core CPU, 64GB of memory, a 3000 mAh battery, an on-board AVR chip, as well as Wi-Fi, Buetooth Low Energy and ZigBee compatibility to control smart home gadgets.


The system itself is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop OS and built around the versatile ATmega328 MCU. Meaning, the Arduino-friendy device can be programmed to the liking of its owner through its accompanying Arduino and Android controller libraries. What’s more, Musio also comes with a developer kit add-on that includes an accelerometer, a trio of Arduino Mini boards, ZigBee modules and Arduino ZigBee shields.


Unlike other virtual personal assistants before its time, Musio can actually converse with its user — whether that’s offering up an appointment reminder, gossiping about a colleague at work, lending a helping hand during a homework assignment or asking a question to satisfy its curiosity. AKA’s mission was to devise a robot that not only thinks on its own, but ultimately creates an interactive learning environment for people. Moving ahead, the team hopes to further improve its built-in textual and vision intelligence, and integrate motion, in order to make it a truly holistic AI machine.

“AKA is using Musio to create an ecosystem which consists of Musio Friends, which also have built-in AI and sensor-technologies. Your artificially intelligent friend Musio wants to develop with you. This ecosystem will become possible not only with our developers’ efforts but yours as well.”


Ready for a robotic sibling or sidekick to help you out with your daily tasks? Then head over to its official Indiegogo page, where the AKAStudy is currently seeking $50,000. As if it were actually a baby brother or sister, it looks like you’ll have to wait a year before it arrives. Shipment is expected to begin in June 2016.

BlueDuino Rev2 is an Arduino-compatible dev board with BLE

The BlueDuino Rev2 is an ATmega32U4 based development board with Bluetooth Low Energy. 

Developed by Beijing startup April Brothers, the BlueDuino Rev2 is an Arduino-compatible development board based on the versatile ATmega32U4 along with a built-in CC2540 BLE module. This enables Makers to easily plug the pint-sized board into their project and immediately begin programming.


The firmware for the BLE module — called ZeroBeacon — supports iBeacon features, UART transparent transfer, and can be configured with AT commands. Meanwhile, Makers can program the board in the Arduino IDE.

Aside from the ATmega32U4 running at 3.3V/8MHz, other key specs include:

  • On-board micro-USB connector for programming
  • Four 10-bit ADC pins
  • 12 Digital I/Os (Five PWM capable)
  • Rx and Tx hardware serial connections
  • 1.3″ x 0.7” in size

Interested? BlueDuino Rev2 is currently available on Tindie for $14. Otherwise, you can head over Wiki page to learn more.

Rock out with the Jamstik+ smart guitar

Play this smart guitar through your mobile device.

Have you always wanted to be an axe-slaying, guitar-slinging rockstar? Yet, have you found learning to play an instrument to be a bit too difficult and expensive? Well, that may all change thanks to Minneapolis-based startup Zivix who has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its smart guitar, Jamstik+. Like just about everything else, the Internet of Things (IoT) is giving modern-day instruments a high-tech makeover, embedding them with new, more connected functionality.


The Jamstik+ SmartGuitar gives users the accessibility of a Guitar Hero-like computing interface along with the ability to add vibrato and bend strings as if it were a real instrument — all while wirelessly pairing with your iPhone, iPhone or other Apple device. What’s more, the Jamstik lineup is packed with a pair of Atmel processors and USB connection for both charging and linking to a PC.

You may recall an older version of the product called Jamstik that took Indiegogo by storm back in 2014. However, this iteration had a minor hiccup. Whenever a user played a note, there was a slight delay between the action and its coinciding sound. This problem has since been corrected in the latest incarnation, which boasts several additional features, most notably a magnetic hexaphonic pickup that gives the instrument a more traditional and authentic feel. The gadget sports improved connectivity through the implementation of Bluetooth Low Energy, enabling Jamstik+ to seamlessly sync with Apple’s MIDI software. The previous model had connected via Wi-Fi.


How it works is simple. The Jamstik+ senses a user’s before even plucking a string. The infrared sensors in the fretboard detect the precise variations of their digits, providing instant feedback with no delay between what is being played and what is being heard, as if it were a traditional guitar.

With all new Jamstik+ apps, users now have more options to begin their musical journey. While it may be marketed towards the beginner crowd through its tutorial-focused JamTutor series that provides onscreen representations of finger placements and string plucks, the SmartGuitar certainly appeals to the well-seasoned musicians as well. Simply open JamMix and begin playing. Beyond that, the wireless SmartGuitar is compatible with popular apps ranging from GarageBand and Loopy to SampleTank and Ableton, allowing artists to mix their own professional-grade tracks.


The music is emitted either through the speakers of its companion device or a pair of headphones to keep the jam session private. Since Jamstik+ is also a MIDI controller, it doesn’t have to be used solely as a guitar either. Instead, it can access an entire range of MIDI notes and a spectrum of sounds including a banjo, a piano, a harp and even a sitar.

Ready to rip up the fretboard? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Zivix team has already well exceeded its $50,000 goal. Shipment is expected to kick off this summer.

Switchmate makes any light smart in seconds

Smart lighting with a snap!

From startups to major brands, it seems like just about everyone has embarked on the smart lighting train. In fact, we’ve seen everything from lights that can set the mood, to lights that can sync up with TV shows, to lights that can give off the impression of a lived-in home. And while smart bulbs continue to proliferate, they all possess one of the same two options when it comes to installation. Homeowners could either use a plug-in module or remove and replace a ‘dumb’ light switch entirely.


That was until Switchmate came along. The Palo Alto-based startup — which recently launched on Indiegogo — is hoping to change the game with its solution that easily fits over an existing switch by magnetically securing to the screws. This means no wires, no tools, no headache! As you can imagine, not only for homes, the market for the Switchmate includes renters and those who lack handyman skills.

Once affixed to the wall, you can simply pair it with a mobile device over Bluetooth and automate your switch in a matter of seconds. This allows you to turn the lights on with a tap of your phone, a press of its button, or at scheduled pre-set times. In other words, you’ll never have to get out of bed or come home to a dark house again. What’s more, Switchmate can be used to control any appliance, as long as it features an on/off toggle.


As seen back at CES 2015, Switchmate is comprised of a plastic faceplate, a servo motor and a Bluetooth Low Energy module, along with a few magnets and a button. On its own, the solution can be operated from an iOS or Android phone via BLE. However, for those instances beyond its 200-foot range, the startup says it is currently working on developing its own hub and expanding its lineup of products. This will enable users to control their lights (or other in-home devices) anywhere that there is Internet access.


Recently launched on Indiegogo, the team has already doubled its initial goal in a matter of days. Want a Switchmate of your own? Hurry over to its official campaign page here.

Zero Tiny is a BLE board powered by an ATtiny85

Could this be the lowest-spec and cheapest BLE board ever?

Designed by Micah Pearlman, the Zero Tiny BLE is a tiny low-cost, low-powered embeddable device packed with an ATtiny85 MCU and an HM-10 Bluetooth 4.0 module.


The board was originally conceived as a way to connect sensors for the Maker’s vintage motorcycle so that his iOS device could serve as a display and data logger. Therefore, Pearlman sought a small, inexpensive solution that possessed both uC and BLE capabilities, and could be powered by a small LiPo battery.

“The HM-10 BLE was super cheap and incredibly easy to integrate. The ATtiny85 is also super cheap, requires practically zero external components when running on it’s internal oscillator and can be programmed in the Arduino IDE.”


Four of the tinyAVR’s six I/O pins were broken out on a pin header, with two used to communicate with the BTLE module. Interested? You can learn more about the board and access all of the Maker’s open-source files here. Nice find, Hackaday!