Tag Archives: IoT Projects

The AirBoard is a thumb-sized MCU for rapid IoT prototyping


Sketch your next billion dollar idea in record-setting speed.


In today’s connected world, Makers are constantly seeking quicker ways to develop their Internet of Things ideas and take them to market in expedited fashion. Luckily, now they can thanks to Grenoble, France-based startup AirThings. The AirBoard is a thumb-sized, all-in-one MCU designed for ultra-fast prototyping on IoT projects. The open-source, Arduino-compatible board makes it super easy to learn programmable electronics — no breadboards, no wires, no worries!

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On the hardware side, The AirBoard is equipped with an ATmega328P and pre-loaded with the standard Arduino Fio bootloader. The wireless-friendly computer supports automatic over-the-air programming via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or XBee, and can be controlled by smartphone or the web. Since it is compatible with all certified wireless shields, Makers can just simply select the one that best suits their application and proceed to devising their prototype. The team even reveals that users can download code remotely in under five seconds.

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“We focused on the most versatile I/O pins, in order to lower the cognitive effort required in learning electronics and rapidly switching between different projects,” a company rep explains. “This open connector is also the fastest and cheapest way to connect your sensors.”

The AirBoard offers the same type of solderless connector as the fan-favorite Arduino Uno (ATmega328) which makes linking up uncomplicated for beginners and encourages direct experimentation. This opens up a wide-range of low-cost, easy-to-deploy uses ranging from controlling smart home appliances and building robots to interacting with wearables and flying drones from a smartphone.

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Its built-in power management system enables Makers to whip up a number ultra low-power applications, while offering an ultra-low power sleep mode with switchable radio. The AirBoard’s battery charger and management system also improves safety with over current, over charge and over discharge protections, the team notes. Equipped with a 150mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the mini computer’s charge time can range from 40 minutes to an hour via micro USB. Impressively, the super power efificent board boasts a three-year battery autonomy in sleep mode with up to six months in communication time.

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“There are a number of educational tools on the market to facilitate transient prototyping. They are great for learning electronics but may be difficult to deploy out in the field. The challenge today is to accelerate the deployment of smart things, with a seamless experience from novice to expert.”

Given the success of its crowdfunding campaign this far, the team has expanded its offering of PCB colors, aside from the basic blue shown above. Folks can vote for the new unlocked tone, which includes either Kickstarter green, fire red and dark matter black. A 3D-printed enclosure for The AirBoard is available for download on Thingiverse.

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More importantly, the team has announced a slew of new partnerships with startups like Blynk, SODAQ and SIGFOX. For instance, The AirBoard’s 5-second over-the-air priming paired with Blynk’s drag-and-drop widget box will provide Makers with the necessary tools for sketching their ideas quickly. Beyond that, the team has teamed with SODAQ to release a next generation of its GPRSbee, a GPRS/GSM expansion board that allows for a cellphone network to transmit or receive data from a remote location. And most recently, The AirBoard has joined forces with the new XBee-footprint SIGFOX shield in hopes of paving the way for an ultra-compact, autonomous device that can process sensors out in the field and send up to 140 messages per day to a unified network anytime, anywhere.

Currently on littleBits’ bitLab, the team has also revealed what they call “sketchBit,” a single input/output module that enables direct control of bits by mobile device or any other wireless protocol. With this new sketchBit, Makers and developers alike can combine the flexibility of The AirBoard’s broad range of wireless shields and the diversity of littleBits to whip up their own devices, robots, and so much more.

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Those interested in sketching their next IoT project in blistering speed can head on over the project’s official Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking $10,000. Pending all goes to plan, AirBoards are expected to be shipped to backers in August. Meanwhile, be sure to stay up-to-date with their latest stretch goals and announcements on its page.