Tag Archives: Cortex-M4

SmartyPans is like a Fitbit for food

SmartyPans is a Bluetooth-enabled skillet that calculates nutrition information of home cooked meals, in real-time.

Are you the type of person who dines out every night because you don’t know how to cook or agonizes about the nutritional contents of your food with every bite? If so, those worries may be a thing of the past thanks to SmartyPansan intelligent frying pan, which not only helps you whip up a meal but keeps tabs on what you consume as well.


SmartyPans enables anyone to make dinner like a chef, while tracking their intake like a pro. The cooking system is comprised of two parts: the connected skillet and an accompanying recipe app. It uses the combination of voice commands, weight and temperature sensors along with the app to provide you with real-time nutritional information about the food you’re preparing.

To get started, you tell the app what ingredients you’re adding to the pan. The app then employs those commands and its sensors to calculate calories and other nutritional data. What’s more, you can input those numbers into some of today’s most popular health and fitness platforms, like MyFitnessPal, Google Fit and Fitbit, as well as share your favorite recipes with friends and family.


In terms of electronics, SmartyPans features an Atmel | SMART Cortex-M4 MCU at its core, Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity and a rechargeable 800mAh battery. The pan itself boasts a unique design with an NSF-grade aluminum outer layer and a detachable inner cooking surface. This modularity allows you to use the top portion as a serving bowl and oven pan, or the entire thing as a kitchen scale.

Are you ready to cook with freedom and track with ease? Head over to SmartyPans’ Indiegogo campaign, where the brother-sister duo of Prachi and Rahul Baxi are currently seeking $40,000. The must-have accessory will come in red, black and orange along with the option of stainless steel or a ceramic non-stick coating. Delivery is slated for August 2016.


Prometheus lets you make circuit boards in minutes

While it may look like a 3D printer, Prometheus is a PCB milling machine that carves, drills and shapes your PCBs so you don’t have to wait for a delivery truck.

While open source hardware has dramatically reduced the time and cost associated with product development, there are still a few speed bumps that Makers and designers must endure en route to taking their idea from prototype to mass production. Looking to change that is Rocco Tuccio, who together with his Zippy Robotics team, has built a desktop machine that can create real circuit boards in a matter of minutes. Meet Prometheus.


“When we’re prototyping, we need a tool that can give us nearly instant feedback — not feedback that comes in a few week’s time in the form of a PCB delivery. Let the PCB manufacturers make the hundreds or thousands of boards for your production run — not your prototypes. If production is your goal, Prometheus will help get you there faster,” Tuccio explains.

Prometheus works by carving through the copper layer of a standard copper-clad board (FR-4 or FR-1). Essentially, it can be thought of as mechanically etching the PCB as opposed to dealing with chemicals to perform the etching. Prometheus can also drill holes and route the shape of the board itself if you need it to fit a specific enclosure.


Surely the ongoing desktop fabrication revolution has yielded similar equipment, but what makes Prometheus stand out from others on the market is its unique spindle. This mechanical part’s incredible specs speak for themselves — 45,000 RPM and a static Total Indicated Runout (TIR) of less than 2.5 microns (.0001 inches), measured 10mm below the spindle bearing.

“TIR is important because it determines the minimum bit diameter we can run. Too much runout (wobble) and a micro end mill will just snap instead of milling copper as intended. Prometheus can reliably run bits as small as .007 inches in diameter, so you can use (with few exceptions) any surface mount components in your designs — not just ‘giant’ SOIC packages. This is a major differentiator with what’s available in our price class today,” Tuccio adds.


And they didn’t stop there, either. No other manufacturer makes a PCB milling machine and the design software to go with it. Zippy Robotics’ Circuit Factory program works seamlessly with Prometheus, enabling you to devise your schematic and board layout quickly and easily, even if you’ve never designed a PCB before. Once completed with your mockup on Circuit Factory, simply click the ‘carve’ button and Prometheus will take care of the rest. 

In terms of hardware, Prometheus boasts its own custom motor controller which is built around an Atmel | SMART SAM4S Cortex-M4 MCU. The machine features USB plug-and-play connectivity and will soon come with its own free Java API that will let anyone write their own software using a set of commands called ZippyTalk. (This is how Circuit Factory communicates with Prometheus.)

“It will allow a software developer to control Prometheus so that they can write their own apps to make particular tasks easy. They can then give those apps away or sell them, without restriction, to the benefit of all Prometheus users. You don’t have to know anything about G-code. G-code is a relic from the ’70s and it’s time we moved on to better things,” Tuccio explains.


With its incredible XY resolution and its ability to mill out traces and spaces as fine as 0.007 inches from any standard copper-clad PCB material, Prometheus is arguably one of the most advanced gadgets in its class. These traits will put Zippy Robotics toe-to-toe with other professional grade machines out there, which keep in mind, cost more than $8,000. This unit’s price tag, however, is a fraction of that.

Not only a great product, but an outstanding team behind it as well. We’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Tuccio and the New York-based startup for several years now, and have witnessed the progression of the desktop-friendly device — from its earlier and bulkier versions to its latest compact, commercial-ready form factor.

Tired of waiting for delivery and rather have your own PCBs just a click away? Head over to Prometheus’ Kickstarter campaign, where the Zippy Robotics crew is currently seeking $95,000. Delivery is slated for sometime next fall. Trust us, it’ll be worth the wait!

BeON Home makes it look like you’re home, even when you’re not

This system will make having a safer, smarter home as simple as screwing in a light bulb.

Did you know that four burglaries occur every minute in the United States? That’s a startling one every 15 seconds. The good news is that most convicted burglars (90%) claim they want to avoid homes with alarm systems, saying that if they did encounter an alarm, they would abort the mission altogether. However, the bad news is that nearly two-thirds of homeowners fail to turn on their unit at all times.


Undoubtedly, the Internet of Things has made way for an influx of smart bulbs as of late. Sure, they can change colors, set the mood and even sync up to what’s playing on TV, but they may all pale in comparison to BeON Home. Last November, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup introduced the first Bluetooth Smart home protection system that rolls preventative security and emergency lighting all into one unique solution. And today, it’s now available!

As its name would imply, BeON is designed to make it look like you’re home, even when you’re not. This lets you not only can you enjoy lighting in the event of an emergency or power outage, but also taking a proactive approach to thwart potential intruders. The system itself is comprised of LED bulbs that can be plugged into any standard socket and produce 800 lumens (equivalent to 60W), along with smart modules which are hidden inside.


Sound a little familiar? Not only is it because you may’ve backed BeON on Kickstarter in 2014, but the premise is rather reminiscent of the 1990s blockbuster film Home Alone. In the movie, Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) outwits a pair of criminals by creating a DIY home security system. During one scene, Kevin goes to great lengths to set up a fake Christmas party in order to deceive the “Wet Bandits” (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) into believing that the house was inhabited.

Since intruders prefer unoccupied homes, the BeON smart modules automatically learn your family’s everyday lighting patterns and then replay them while you’re away — without having to go through such great lengths as Kevin McCallister. If a would-be burglar checks to see if you’re home by ringing the doorbell, BeON can hear the doorbell via its Atmel | SMART SAM G based sound detection engine and trigger the lights on sequentially as if you are awakening and moving throughout the house.


Even better, the LEDs can be installed just like ordinary bulbs into either lamps or recessed lights. Once in place, the system goes into action, quietly learning your activity patterns. To ensure your privacy, the bulbs communicate with one another and its accompanying mobile app locally over Bluetooth Smart. And using Qualcomm’s CSRmesh technology, notifications and messages can be carried through a network of multiple bulbs without the need for a hub or router.

And its smartness doesn’t stop there. In fact, BeON bulbs boast backup rechargeable batteries, ensuring its burglar prevention powers work even without power, and can flick on the lights whenever a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector goes off to help you escape safely.

Intrigued? The BeON starter kit — which consists of three LED bulbs and three smart modules — will run you $199, with additional bulbs $75 a piece.

Zodiac FX is the world’s smallest OpenFlow SDN switch

Zodiac FX is the first OpenFlow switch designed to sit on your desk, not in a data center.

Up until now the power of Software Defined Networking (SDN) was only available to the administrators of large corporate networks like Google and Facebook. However, one Australian company has shrunken those capabilities down to a palm-sized form factor of just 10cm x 8cm to create what they’re calling the world’s smallest OpenFlow-capable switch.


With aspirations of getting SDN into the hands of Makers, students and hobbyists, the Zodiac FX is the first OpenFlow switch meant to sit on your desk, not in a data center. The idea was initially conceived by Northbound Networks founder Paul Zanna after finding that there was a persistent gap between SDN controllers and simulation software and OpenFlow-capable hardware.

What’s nice is that the Zodiac FX packs many of the features of an OpenFlow switch all for a fraction of the cost and size. Based on an Atmel | SMART SAM4E Cortex-M4 MCU, the board includes four 10/100 Fast Ethernet ports with integrated magnetics and indicator LEDs along with a command line interface accessible via USB virtual serial port. Aside from all that, the Zodiac FX is equipped with the layer 2 and 3 switching capabilities of the Micrel KSZ8795 Ethernet controller.


Designed with the SDN development and Maker communities in mind, the Zodiac FX firmware is completely open source. This means that anyone can download the code and use Atmel Studio to produce their own custom version. From there, it can be reloaded onto the board via USB.

“The Zodiac FX firmware utilizes the Atmel Software Framework (ASF) for generic device drivers such as USB, SPI, etc. On top of this it then adds a custom written driver for the KSZ8795. FreeRTOS is used to provide task and memory management for the three core processes; Command (CLI), Switching and OpenFlow,” the team writes.

It should be noted that, although the Zodiac FX may be the company’s first foray into the hardware world, Northbound Networks has been extensively involved with SDN development utilities. Are you looking to develop an SDN application? Head over to Zodiac FX’s Kickstarter page, where the crew is seeking $30,693. While delivery for the beta version is expected to kick off in October 2015, the final units aren’t slated to ship until January 2016.

Qualtré debuts 11-DOF MEMS sensor platform

New platform spurs innovation by simplifying evaluation and the development of sensor fusion algorithms.

Qualtré, Inc, a leader in the development and commercialization of Bulk Acoustic Wave MEMS inertial sensors, has debuted a MEMS sensor evaluation platform with 11 degrees of freedom (DOF). This evaluation platform combines three axes of gyroscopic data, three axes of accelerometer data, three axes of magnetic data, as well as barometric pressure/altitude and temperature. The company’s sensor fusion application software library leverages the Atmel | SMART SAM4E Cortex-M4 MCU.


“With an integrated sensor fusion framework, designers can focus on their unique motion based application,” explains Dr. Sreeni Rao, Qualtré’s VP of Vertical Markets. “It’s all about bringing the relevant data together from multiple sensors to provide a more comprehensive and accurate picture of what’s going on in a system. The Qualtré 11-DOF evaluation platform makes it easy to interface multiple sensors and get started immediately writing, compiling and running sensor based applications which can easily be ported to the end-user platform.”

The current version of the sensor fusion platform provides software support for a number of functions, including Wi-Fi-based 11-DOF real-time telemetry, sensor fusion quaternion outputs, corrected heading direction and second order temperature compensation.

Typically speaking, a key challenge in sensor fusion is effectively separating signal, motion and noise. Fortunately, Qualtré’s algorithms aim to take data from different sensors that observe the same event to distinguish between noise and signals, then compute more accurate information. Sensor fusion encompasses a variety of techniques which leverage the environmental monitoring of the individual sensors and combine them intelligently to achieve broader and more precise results.

Pozyx is an Arduino-compatible platform that provides accurate positioning

This indoor location system may finally be able to help your robotic vacuum find its way around the house. 

The GPS on smartphones or Garmin devices may suffice when it comes to driving directions, but truth be told, accuracy isn’t always its strong suit. Whereas traditional navigation systems can be off anywhere from a few feet to a half a block, Pozyx is an affordable hardware solution that provides precise positioning down to the centimeter. Not to mention, those who own a Roomba know all too well the sound of the robotic cleaner hitting furniture in search of a clear path, or getting stuck beneath a chair or table. This only validates Pozyx Laboratories’ point in just how inaccurate location finding can be, both outdoors and inside a home.


In order to improve this matter, Pozyx has developed an affordable solution that relies upon ultra-wideband radio waves, which transmit low-power signals across various frequencies and even through walls, to acquire location and motion data. The Belgian startup’s system works quite similarly to everyday navigation technology, where like the GPS satellites in the sky, Pozyx employs four stationary, wall-mounted anchors that wirelessly communicate with a snap-on, ARM Cortex-M4-based board. This easy-to-program MCU, called a “tag,” can function as either a standalone device or as an Arduino shield.


Positioning is achieved through two-way ranging with the anchors and state-of-the art algorithms. Meanwhile, the Pozyx tags process all measurements needed to accurately compute the whereabouts and orientation of the board, at a high update rate, using its internal sensors (an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer). When coupled with the set of anchors, Pozyx can then guide an object across a space collision-free — whether that’s a robotic vacuum in the living room or a drone waiter flying over a bag of chips. These units, which measure 63mm x 63m x 22mm, come in a protective casing and with a micro-USB power adapter. .


Messages can also be transmitted over the air using ultra-wideband technology. Not only can these be text or user data, but commands for remote Pozyx modules as well. This makes it an ideal option for any home automation project. What’s more, the platform enables a pair of Arduinos to wirelessly talk with one another; meaning, they can be used to do everything from read out sensors to steer robots to turn on LED lights from afar. Makers can even reprogram the microcontroller to suit their own needs via SWD.

“Depending on your skill level, you can use the system in several ways. Plug the Pozyx tag into your Arduino and get started right away. Obtaining your position and orientation is done with a few lines of code using our Arduino library,” Pozyx founder Samuel Van de Velde explains. “Use the Pozyx system as any other sensor. Connect with it through I2C. Perfect for a connection with a Raspberry Pi or some other platform. Or, program the microcontroller of the tags or anchor yourself and connect with all the onboard sensors for ultimate control.”


Whether it’s a cat, a vacuum or your own body movements that you’re looking to track, Pozyx can precisely find and guide pretty much anything in and around your house. Moving ahead, its creators are hoping to scale down the tag’s form factor from its current 71.75mm x 58mm size to something a bit smaller, which will allow for the system to be implemented in a wide range of settings such as gaming, wearables, supply chain management and retail.

Intrigued? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Pozyx Laboratories crew is seeking $29,614. Shipment is expected to begin in October 2015.

ReVault is the world’s first wearable private cloud

Not just a smartwatch, ReVault lets you back up and access your files on the go.

We know, we know, another smartwatch? But before you say anything else, this wearable band has a rather unique feature. Not only can it reveal the time, it can impressively act as a wireless storage device that lets you back up your files and open them without ever needing an Internet connection. Think about it, in this day and age of multi-screen use, everyone has data that they want to access to on all of their gadgets. And sure, many of us tend to employ popular services like Dropbox or OneDrive to accomplish this; however, local storage happens to be a bit more secure.


Cognizant of this, one Swedish startup has set out to make the private cloud a little more personal and portable with ReVault. Currently live on Indiegogo, the Atmel | SMART SAM4S powered gizmo is being billed as “the world’s first wearable private cloud” that enables users to securely access and sync all of their files. Instead, the wearable drive connects to a laptop, smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.


Not only does ReVault allow wearers to easily carry their most important documents wherever they go at all times, but once connected, it can be set to automatically back up and synchronize those files across all devices via its accompanying app. This application is available on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, meaning it should be pretty simple to pair data despite the platforms one may use.

ReVault has been designed with the utmost security in mind, and rightfully so. We are talking about personal and sensitive information here! This was accomplished through AES-256 encryption, as well as two-factor authentication. In other words, only trusted devices and users can connect to the wearable unit.


Aside from safeguarding data, the watch has been created with superior durability to withstand the inevitable bumps and scratches of everyday use. Equipped with a stainless steel and water resistant case, the full-color display is protected with Gorilla Glass 3. A wearer can also choose between a variety of faces, including one for private cloud data, a digital or analog clock, as well as a custom screen built with the ReVault API. Though the battery only lasts for approximately three days, ReVault can be charged using a standard Qi wireless charger — 80% battery life takes roughly an hour, while 100% calls for just about an hour and a half.


ReVault comes in both 32GB and 128GB models. What’s more, for those who aren’t really into the whole “smartwatch thing,” it can be transformed into a necklace or keyring using its chain converter. Is it time to reclaim your data? Then hurry over to its official Indiegogo campaign, where the team is closing in on their $65,000 goal. Shipment is expected to begin in January 2016.

Myo makes Minority Report a reality

Developed by Thalmic Labs, the Myo armband is bringing Minority Report-like technology a step closer to reality. For those who haven’t seen the flick, it’s also quite reminiscent of Iron Man Tony Stark’s gesture-controlled holo-computer. Regardless, the one-size-fits-all wearable is well on its way to revolutionizing the way we interact with our digital world.


Using electromyographic (EMG) sensors to recognize electrical signals pulsating through your forearm muscles, Myo can detect detailed data about your arm’s muscle activity. This enables the wearable device to identify whether the wearer’s gestures, whether they’re clenching, flicking, waving their wrist. “We’re building the future of human-computer interaction and we’re excited about how new computer interfaces will shape our lives,” a company rep recently told The Huffington Post.


The next-gen wearable features onboard, rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, as well as an ARM processor, proprietary muscle activity sensors and a 9-axis inertial measurement unit. Based on an ARM Cortex-M4 processor, Myo connects via Bluetooth-enabled devices to provide gesture recognition in an endless possibility of uses, ranging from healthcare to wireless computing and gaming. As our friends at ARM point out, Myo can control music playback by swiping your hand to change a song, spreading your fingers can stop a song, while volume can be increased and decreased by the rotating a fist to the left and right. Not to mention, “the gadget enables presentations to become easier as slideshows can be controlled by flicking through slides while engagement is gained as presenters are able to zoom in and annotate to draw the audience’s attention to key points.”


Gamers, rejoice! In addition to a number of other applications, wearers will soon be able to immerse themselves within video games as movements such as running, crouching, jumping are all mimicked on the screen. The armband is supposed to work with Windows, Mac, iOS or Android devices. Myo is currently available for pre-order for $149 and is expected to begin shipping this September (after the Myo Developer Kits have been issued).

A number of developers have already had a chance to experiment with the Myo in order to find new ways to make use of it. “It’s been kind of overwhelming the number of different ideas we’ve heard and the things people have already built,” Aaron Grant, one of the co-founders, told CBC News.

GridVortex talks Atmel on LinkedIn

Jonny Doin, the founder and CEO of GridVortex Systems, recently explained why and how his company uses Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs) in a series of LinkedIn posts.

First off, Doin said he was quite pleased with the support he’s received from global Atmel staff in various locations, including San Jose, France, Spain and Germany.


“We needed support for the crypto core details for the CPKCL and promptly [kicked-off] a teleconference with the crypto guys in France,” he wrote. “I now try to use Atmel parts in all my projects.”

In terms of specific silicon, Doin said:

“If you need a Cortex-M that does serious crypto operations, consider using an [ARM-powered] SAM4C16 from Atmel. It is a dual Cortex-M4 with 1MB/2MB Flash, 128K/256K RAM and very strong crypto support. The chip is targeted [at] Legal Metrology and offers secure hardware crypto to support TLS/SSL.

“It [also boasts] hardware support for ECC512, RSA1024, independent circuitry for AES and a subsystem that monitors memory areas and generates exception when the hash of the area changes. From what I saw, [this] is the fastest ECC512 engine in a microcontroller, [although it does not] tax the MCU cores. [Yes], you will need a crypto NDA to get access to the crypto hardware documentation, but the ECC crypto API is really complete. The timings are impressive and outperform [other microcontrollers].”

Doin also noted that he is currently testing an Energy Meter that includes an ARM-based SAM4C.

“Atmel has won almost all chips on my design. I am using the SAM4C, ATM90E25, AT86RF212B and the LED controllers from mSilica, MSL20xx. I try to use Atmel parts in all my projects. The IPv6 router for my mesh networking is being designed around the SAMA5D3. The intelligent nodes in the mesh are SAM4C16+AT86RF212B. My software defined LED power driver is being built around the SAMD10/MSL20xx and our intelligent smart vision cameras will also use Atmel processors.”

In addition, Doin confirmed that his company was in the process of designing its endpoint hardware with the SAM4C16.

“The documentation is really good, and so far we just got everything we needed directly from the datasheet,” he added. “Maybe we’ll [also] decide to use a SAM4C32 in one of our designs, so I am looking forward to the updated datasheet.”

Last, but certainly not least, Doin said he successfully designed a high-precision servo-DAC using delta demodulation and one of the center-aligned PWMs of the SAM4C16.

“Using just one digital output and one ADC input I achieved a very stable, precision DAC, at under 19cents of external discrete components. I [recently showcased] the DAC prototype at a recent meeting in Atmel San Jose. I plan to publish the design as an AppNote for the SAM4C16 (and also for the ATmega, which also has the same PWM) and present it as a lecture at the next Embedded Systems Conference,” he concluded.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s portfolio for your next project? You can check out a detailed breakdown of our microcontrollers here.

Atmel’s ARM-based SAM G lineup is on EE Times

Earlier this week, Atmel unveiled its SAM G lineup, an ARM Cortex-M4-based family of MCUs that integrate high performance and ultra-low power in a small form factor. 

The SAM G series is ideal for a wide range of sensor hub and battery-operated consumer applications, including smartphones, tablets and Ultrabooks as well as wearables, healthcare, gateways, bridges and audio devices.

Atmel’s SAM G launch was covered by a number of journalists and publications, including Paul Buckley of the EE Times (Europe).

“[In the age of] the Internet of Things (IoT), there is demand for MCUs with ultra-small form factors, rich features, high performance and lower power,” writes Buckley. 

“Atmel’s new SAM G51 and SAM G53 series meet all these requirements with 3×3 mm packaging, high-performance frequency at 48 MHz, ultra-low power consumption down to 100 µA/MHz in active mode, 7 µA in sleep with SRAM retention and down to 3 µs wake-up time.”

As Buckley notes, the new MCUs also feature a floating point unit (FPU) option for applications requiring additional computational power and precise calculations such as digital smart watches, wearables and mobile sensor hubs.

Additional key specs include:

  • High-performance throughput and efficiency with a Cortex M4-based MCU and FPU
  • Up to 512KB of Flash and 96KB of SRAM
3x3mm WLCSP, 49 balls with 0.4mm pitch
Flexible serial peripherals and ultra-low power ADC
Peripheral Event System and SleepWalking
Atmel ultra-low power picoPower technology

Interested in learning more? You can check out Atmel’s SAM G lineup here and our original coverage here.