Tag Archives: IoT Prototyping

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!


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.


“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.


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.


“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.


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.


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.

Arduino and Atmel launch the Arduino Wi-Fi Shield 101

Following an exciting two days of MakerCon and on the eve of Maker Faire, the team of Atmel and Arduino have announced the launch of the Arduino Wi-Fi Shield 101, a shield that enables rapid prototyping of Internet of Things (IoT) applications on the highly-popular open-source platform.


The cost-effective, secure Arduino Wi-Fi Shield 101 is an easy-to-use extension that can seamlessly be connected to any Arduino board enabling high-performance Wi-Fi connectivity. This new shield gives the design community more opportunities to securely connect IoT applications, ranging from consumer goods to wearables, robotics, high-tech devices and more.

The Arduino Wi-Fi Shield 101 is powered by Atmel’s wireless network controller, part of the Atmel SmartConnect family, and also includes the CryptoAuthentication device which allows users to easily incorporate hardware authentication capability in their design.

“In this increasingly connected world, the Arduino Wi-Fi Shield 101 will help drive more inventions in the IoT market,” explained Arduino Co-Founder Massimo Banzi. “Expanding our portfolio of Arduino extensions, this new shield can flawlessly connect to any modern Arduino board giving our community more options for connectivity, along with added security elements to their creative projects.”


Makers can connect the Arduino Wi-Fi Shield 101 to any modern Arduino R3 board, enabling connectivity to the Internet using any traditional Wi-Fi access points. It is based on the WINC1500 802.11b/g/n network controller which features an integrated TCP/IP stack, TLS security and SoftAP for seamless provisioning. It also features an Atmel authentication security device that can be used for keys, passwords or secret data.

In true Arduino fashion, every element of the platform – hardware, software and documentation – is freely available and open-source. This offers the Maker community to discover exactly how it’s made and then to utilize its design as the starting point for their own circuits. An open-source Wi-Fi library will also be available to enable users to write sketches that connect to the Internet using the shield. The newly-unveiled shield connects to an Arduino board using long wire-wrap headers which extend through the shield, thus keeping the pin layout intact and allows other shields to be stacked on top.

“Through our long standing partnership with Arduino, Atmel is committed to the Maker Movement and excited to enable more connected devices in the Internet of Things,” said Reza Kazerounian, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Atmel. “We’ve partnered with Arduino to develop a true turn-key IoT solution that will allow the community to create unlimited possibilities. We are eager to see the breadth of next-generation IoT products that this new shield will help designers achieve.”


For those heading to World Maker Faire New York, swing by booth #EP24 to get a firsthand look at the Wi-Fi Shield 101. Additionally, Arduino and Atmel will be hosting a Meet & Greet to discuss this jointly-developed shield on Friday, September 19 from 6:30 – 8:30pm ET at NY Hall of Science. Arduino’s Massimo Banzi and Atmel’s Reza Kazerounian will be speaking at this event and a number of innovative Maker demos will also be showcased. To attend, please RSVP to pr@atmel.com.

Since 2005, a worldwide community of Makers has gathered around this open source platform. And, Atmel microcontrollers were there from the outset, providing simple but powerful microcontrollers (MCUs) as the hardware side of the equation. Artists, designers, inventors, engineers, musicians and students alike have turned to Arduino boards — designed around Atmel AVR or Atmel ARM-based MCUs — to bring their ideas to life.

By delivering a unique combination of performance, power efficiency and design flexibility, Atmel MCUs perfectly complement Arduino and the needs of makers. More importantly, they come virtually pre-integrated the peripherals needed to sense and control the physical world. Atmel MCUs and Arduino—the original duo at the heart of the global maker movement. The just-announced shield will provide secure Wi-Fi connectivity for all Arduino platforms, thereby enabling unlimited possibilities for smart, connected IoT devices.