Tag Archives: Embedded World 2014

SigFox plans Silicon Valley IoT cellular network

Writing for MIT’s Technology Review, Tom Simonite confirms that SigFox plans on building a cellular network for the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT) in San Francisco later this year. 

According to SigFox, the wireless network is intended to make it cheap and practical to link anything to the Internet, including smoke detectors, dog collars, bicycle locks and water pipes.

“If you want to get to billions of connections like that, you require a completely new type of network,” Luke D’Arcy, director of SigFox’s operations in the US, told the publication.

As Simonite notes, the Silicon Valley network is slated to leverage the unlicensed 915-megahertz spectrum band typical used by cordless phones.

“Objects connected to SigFox’s network can operate at very low power but will be able to transmit at only 100 bits per second—slower by a factor of 1,000 than the networks that serve smartphones. But that could be enough for many applications,” he explains. 

”A SigFox base station can serve a radius of tens of kilometers in the countryside and five kilometers in urban areas. To connect to the network, a device will need a $1 or $2 wireless chip that’s compatible, and customers will pay about $1 in service charges per year per device.”

It should be noted that French startup SigFox recently showcased its Atmel-powered global cellular connectivity solution for the IoT at the Atmel booth during Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

According to company rep Jacques Husser, SigFox-ready devices connect to the Internet without any geographically dependent connectivity costs or location-specific network configuration. The worldwide connectivity solution is managed through the Sigfox Network Operator partnership program, effectively linking local ecosystems to the global network.

That is why, says Husser, the phrase “one network, a billion dreams” has become the company’s slogan. 

Indeed, SigFox utilizes UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) radio technology to connect devices to its global network. The use of UNB is key to providing a scalable, high-capacity network, with very low energy consumption, while maintaining a simple and easy to rollout star-based cell infrastructure.

 The network operates in the globally available ISM bands (license-free frequency bands) and co-exists in these frequencies with other radio technologies – without any risk of collisions or capacity problems.

SigFox currently uses the most popular European ISM band on 868MHz (as defined by ETSI and CEPT), along with 902MHz in the USA (as defined by the FCC), depending on specific regional regulations.

SigFox secures communications in a number of ways, including anti-replay, message scrambling and sequencing. Perhaps most importantly, only the device vendors understand the actual data exchanged between the device and the IT systems. Simply put, Sigfox acts as a transport channel, pushing the data towards the customer’s IT system.

Interested in learning more about Sigfox? You can check out the official company website here.

SAMA5D3 Xplained gets unboxed

Atmel’s recently launched SAMA5D3 Xplained board is a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The $79 board, which made its debut at Embedded World 2014, is built around Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU and packed with a rich set of ready-to-use connectivity and storage peripherals, along with Arduino shield-compatible expansion headers for easy customization. The platform is also a perfect target for headless Android projects, with a Linux distribution and software package facilitating rapid software development.

Earlier this week, CNXSoft of CNX Software unboxed the $79 board and documented the experience with pictures and detailed observations.

So, let’s get started. CNXSoft kicks off the unboxing by describing the items accompanying the board, including a micro USB to USB cable for power and programming, along with a small card titled “Overview and Compliance Information” which details EU compliance information regarding RoHS2 and EMC (the board is compliant with both CE and FCC standards).

“On the top of the board, we’ll find the 2 USB host connectors, and 2 Ethernet connectors (GMAC and EMAC). On the right, the micro USB port, as well as pads to solder an external power supply and a micro SD slot on the left, reset, wake up and user buttons, as well as JTAG, LCD, and debug (serial) connectors at the bottom, and around the MPU and memories, the Arduino UNO R3 compatible headers with the names of the different pins,” he writes.

“On the back we’ll find the SD card slot, and again, the markings for the Arduino compatible connectors.”

As CNXSoft notes, the board arrrives pre-loaded with a Linux distribution (poky) built with the Yocto Project, comprising bootloaders (AT91Bootstrap and U-boot), the Linux kernel and a custom lightweight rootfs. To get started, simply connect the micro USB to USB cable to a PC to boot the system.

“You should see a blue LED lit up and blink. There’s no display, but there are three ways to access the board from Linux or Windows computers: PC USB, USB to serial and SSH,” he writes.

“You can login with the board using the root account without password. The USB and SSH methods are the most convenient since you don’t need to connect extra hardware, but you won’t be able to access the bootloader that way, debugging the Linux kernel, if needed, will be difficult, and each time, the board is rebooted, the connection will be lost. So for development, you should really get a serial to USB debug board.”

Next, CNXSoft takes a quick look at the kernel version and memory usage, noting 136M free on the rootfs and 21MB used out of 246 MB RAM. He then follows the build procedure found on GitHub, initializing the build directory, adding meta-atmel layers conf/bblayer config files, editing conf/local.conf to specify the SAMA5D3 Xplained board, building and finally, installing the demo image.

 Subsequently, CNXSoft describes the flash procedure, which comprises the following steps:

  • Making sure the board is connected to a PC via the micro USB port
  • Removing JP5 (NAND CS, upper left of Atmel MPU) jumper to disable NAND Flash memory access
  • Pressing BP2 reset button (bottom left) to boot from on-chip Boot ROM
  • Closing JP5 to enable NAND Flash memory access
  • Changing the name of copy the device tree blob file
  • Running the flash script: chmod +x demo_linux_nandflash.sh

“It will take a little while, and once completed you can login to the board and verify you’ve got a brand new kernel and rootfs. You can also check the flashing log in logfile.log in case something went wrong,” he added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the CNX Software’s full unoboxing write up here or buy the SAMA5D3 Xplained from Atmel’s official store here.

A closer look at Atmel’s new SAMA5D3 Xplained board

Earlier this week, Bits & Pieces got up close and personal with Atmel’s SAM R21 Xplained Pro, an evaluation kit that allows developers to more easily design connected lighting, smart metering and wireless sensor network systems based on true Internet-connectivity and open standards such as IPv6 and 6lowpan.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at Atmel’s new SAMA5D3 Xplained board – a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The board, which recently debuted at Embedded World 2014, is built around Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU and packed with a rich set of ready-to-use connectivity and storage peripherals, along with Arduino shield-compatible expansion headers for easy customization. 

The platform is also a perfect target for headless Android projects, while a Linux distribution and software package facilitates rapid software development.

Aside from Atmel’s ARM-based SAMA5D36 Cortex-A5 microprocessor (MPU), key specs include:

  • 2GBit DDR2 – Micron
  • 2GBit Flash – Micron
  • 1- Ethernet 10/100/1000 (- Phy + connector)
  • 1- Ethernet 10/100 (-Phy + connector)
1- USB Device connector, 2- USB Host connectors
  • Active Semi PMIC
  • Power measurement straps
  • SD/MMCPlus 8-bit Card slot
  • 1- Micro SDCard 4-bit slot footprint
  • 1- 6-lead 3V3-level serial port
  • 10-pin J-TAG connector
  • 2- push buttons, reset and startup
  • 1- general purpose push button
  • 2- general purpose LEDs
  • Arduino R3-compatible header plus LCD connectors mounted
  • Linux distribution
  • Bare Metal C code example
  • Headless Android support

Simply put, the new board offers features such as mid-range graphical user interfaces, capacitive touch capability, wired and wireless communication, free of charge Linux distribution and a QT developer’s kit.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the ARM-based SAMA5D3 series is ideal for wearable computing and mobile applications where low power and a small footprint are critical. Key SAMA5D3 Xplained features include:

  • Fully documented and readily available Cortex-A5 based MPU solution
  • Rich set of peripherals, specifically on connectivity
  • USB power (no need for power adaptor)
  • Flexibility – Arduino-compatible connectors, enabling the user to leverage the extensive Arduino shields ecosystem
  • Open Source hardware – All design files available; easy to reuse in customer projects
  • Software package with drivers and examples for bare metal developers
  • Qt developers kit and Linux distribution free of charge

The new SAMA5D3 Xplained board is available from Newark element 14 at a $79 price point.

A closer look at Atmel’s SAM R21 Xplained Pro

Atmel’s SAM R21 Xplained Pro evaluation kit allows developers to more easily design connected lighting, smart metering and wireless sensor network systems based on true Internet-connectivity and open standards such as IPv6 and 6lowpan.

Key hardware specs include:

  • Atmel’s ARM-based ATSAMR21G18A microcontroller (MCU)
  • Embedded debugger (EDBG) and USB interface
  • Programming and debugging on board SAM R21 via SWD
  • Virtual COM-port interface to target via UART
  • Atmel Data Gateway Interface (DGI) to target via SPI and TWI
  • Four GPIOs connected to target for code instrumentation
  • Digital I/O
  • Two mechanical buttons (user and reset button)
  • One user LED
  • Two extension headers
  • Three possible power sources
  • External power
  • Embedded debugger USB
  • Target USB
  • 32KHz crystal
  • 16MHz crystal
  • Atmel Software Framework support

The SAM R21 Xplained Pro was recently showcased at Atmel’s Embedded World 2014 booth by Thingsquare. Indeed, a number of Thingsquare’s demonstrations were powered by the evaluation board, illustrating the seamless integration of Thingsquare’s software stack with Atmel’s new SAM R21 ultra-low power wireless microcontroller (MCU).

As Atmel Product Marketing Director Magnus Pedersen notes, developers are demanding complete, easy-to-use IoT solutions that can quickly bring a full system to market.

“Our cooperation with Thingsquare is an example of that, with a web-based toolchain and open source firmware to offer our customers a fully integrated hardware and software solution for various IoT applications.”

Thingsquare CEO Adam Dunkels expressed similar sentiments.

“The addition of Atmel’s hardware solutions provides our customers additional options,” he said. “Atmel’s new SAM R21 wireless microcontroller is an important step forward in the emerging IoT space.”

The ATSAM R21 Xplained Pro board is available at the official Atmel Store, with Atmel currently sampling the ATSAM R21 series to select customers. Public sampling will be available the end of March with production quantities slated for July 2014. Pricing for the SAM R21? Starting at $2.75 in 10,000-piece quantities.

Interested in learning more? The SAM R21 device combined with the Thingsquare open source firmware is available at http://thingsquare.com and as a separate delivery via Atmel’s Studio 6 Gallery.

In related IoT news, Bits & Pieces readers may also want to check out the Atmel-backed 2014 IPSO challenge. Essentially, IPSO strives to advance the development and standardization of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The initiative challenges participants to submit working prototypes from innovative concepts in interfaces, interactions and applications which demonstrate the use of the Internet Protocol (IP) in real world sensor/control and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. 

In 2014, IPSO and its sponsors will offer prizes and incentives worth over $50,000. All ten semi-finalists will be given the opportunity to demonstrate working prototypes to industry experts and investors at Sensors Expo 2014, the largest event devoted to sensor and actuator-integrated technology in North America.

Interested in learning more? You can click here for additional details.

A billion IoT dreams with Sigfox and Atmel

French startup Sigfox recently showcased its Atmel-powered global cellular connectivity solution for the Internet of Things (IoT) at the Atmel booth during Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

iotsigfox1

According to company rep Jacques Husser, Sigfox-ready devices connect to the Internet without any geographically dependent connectivity costs or location-specific network configuration. The worldwide connectivity solution is managed through the Sigfox Network Operator partnership program, effectively linking local ecosystems to the global network. 

That is why, says Husser, the phrase “one network, a billion dreams” has become the company’s slogan.

Indeed, SIGFOX utilizes UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) radio technology to connect devices to its global network. The use of UNB is key to providing a scalable, high-capacity network, with very low energy consumption, while maintaining a simple and easy to rollout star-based cell infrastructure.

 The network operates in the globally available ISM bands (license-free frequency bands) and co-exists in these frequencies with other radio technologies – without any risk of collisions or capacity problems.

Sigfox currently uses the most popular European ISM band on 868MHz (as defined by ETSI and CEPT), along with 902MHz in the USA (as defined by the FCC), depending on specific regional regulations.

Sigfox secures communications in a number of ways, including anti-replay, message scrambling and sequencing. Perhaps most importantly, only the device vendors understand the actual data exchanged between the device and the IT systems. Simply put, Sigfox acts as a transport channel, pushing the data towards the customer’s IT system.

Interested in learning more about Sigfox? You can check out the official company website here.

Video: ARM interviews Atmel’s Ingar Fredriksen



Earlier this week, Atmel kicked off Embedded World 2014 by expanding its low-power ARM Cortex M0+-based MCU portfolio with three new families: the SAM D21, D10 and D11. The trio of entry-level, low-power MCUs are packed with a number of high-end features including Atmel’s Event System, SERCOM module, peripheral touch controller and a full-speed USB interface.

During the show, ARM’s Andy Frame interviewed Atmel’s MCU Marketing Director Ingar Fredriksen about the company’s ARM-based SAM D family of products.

“The original SAM D20 lineup has been a tremendous success for Atmel,” Fredriksen told Frame. “We see a lot of opportunities for the series over the next five years.”

Commenting on the new additions to the SAM D series, Fredriksen highlighted Atmel’s integrated peripheral touch controller (PTC) which supports buttons, sliders, wheels and proximity with up to 256 channels. This configuration allows developers to migrate from a two-chip (one MCU + one touch) solution to a one-chip platform.

Indeed, the PTC supports mutual and self capacitive touch, while offering optimized sensitivity and noise tolerance as well as self-calibration. Simply put, the PTC eliminates the need for external components and minimizes CPU overhead. More specifically, implementing one button takes one channel, while wheels and sliders occupy three.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s SAM D portfolio is architected beyond the core, leveraging over two decades of MCU experience to create unique, connected peripherals that are easy-to-use, while providing scalability and performance.

To help accelerate the design process and eliminate the need for additional components, Atmel’s new SAM D lineup integrates additional functionality, including full-speed crystal-less USB, DMA, I2S, timers/counters for control applications, along with several other new features. Atmel’s SAM D devices are also code- and pin-compatible, making it easy for designers to migrate up and down the family.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Atmel’s ARM-based solutions here and “Think Beyond the Core,” a free white paper [PDF] about Atmel’s scalable SAM D lineup here.

Video: ARM interviews Atmel’s Jacko Wilbrink

Earlier today, the ARM crew interviewed Atmel exec Jacko Wilbrink on the sidelines of Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Wilbrink discussed Atmel’s popular ARM-based SAMA5D3 microprocessor, confirming that the MPU has been a “tremendous success for Atmel.”

Wilbrink also said Atmel will continue to offer scalable ARM-based MPUs, with an eye on introducing more dual-core implementations in the future. 

Last, but certainly not least, Wilbrink showcased Newark’s (element14) new $79 Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The board, which is powered by Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU, is packed with a rich set of ready-to-use connectivity and storage peripherals, along with Arduino shield-compatible expansion headers for easy customization. In addition, the platform is a perfect target for headless Android projects, while a Linux distribution and software package facilitates rapid software development.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the SAMA5D3 series is ideal for wearable computing and mobile applications where low power and a small footprint are critical. Key SAMA5D3 Xplained features include:

  • Fully documented and readily available Cortex-A5 based MPU solution
  • Rich set of peripherals, specifically on connectivity
  • USB power (no need for power adaptor)
  • Flexibility – Arduino-compatible connectors, enabling the user to leverage the extensive Arduino shields ecosystem
  • Open Source hardware – All design files available; easy to reuse in customer projects
Software package with drivers and examples for bare metal developers
  • Qt developers kit and Linux distribution free of charge

The new SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – priced at $79 – is slated to ship in mid-March 2014 from Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 in APAC. You can pre-register for the board here.