Tag Archives: SAM3X

This tiny device is putting an entire workout in your pocket

No time for the gym? This pocket-sized device lets you work on your muscles at the office, on the plane or while watching TV.

In 2014, TAO Wellness wowed the CES crowd with its smartphone-sized WellShell exercise device. This year, the team debuted its consumer-ready version along with a brand new prototype for their TAO Chair, allowing users to burn calories right from the comfort of their living rooms.


Described by its creators as a “Tiny Gym in Your Pocket,” the handheld WellShell 2.0 is the world’s first mobile, isometric workout system. The device — which we had the chance to demo ourselves during our stroll through Eureka Park — is rather unique because unlike a number of other fitness trackers and monitors on the market today, users can actually exercise with TAO, anywhere at anytime.


“With TAO, users can exercise at their desk, on the airplane, while watching TV or watching the kids. The exercises – called Variobics™ – use the same isometric principles as Pilates, yoga and planking. However, TAO takes it a step further by adding a dynamic element. It requires you to vary the pressure by coaching you through your workout, and then electronically capturing the results. People at CES were blown away – doing a set of reps with TAO is serious exercise.”


Powered by an Atmel | SMART SAM3X, the device is packed with a force/pressure sensor, an ultra low-power three-axis accelerometer, an optoelectronic heart rate sensor and a gyroscope. The WellShell 2.0 also boasts an OLED matrix display, RGB LEDs and a tilt-tap-press navigation system.

In addition, the Bluetooth-enabled gadget works with an accompanying mobile app, which coaches users through the exercises in game-like fashion. Exercisers can adjust the intensity and duration of a workout, while the app can monitor heart rate and steps taken as well.


TAO Wellness is on a mission to integrate healthy exercise into one’s day-to-day life, even when work, school or other activities seem to get in the way. Sticking to your New Year’s resolution has never been so easy. Even AVR Man approves!

Interested? Learn more on the company’s official page here.

Building the IoT with Mentor Graphics and Atmel

Atmel has joined Mentor’s Embedded Nucleus Innovate Program, an embedded initiative that helps promote development of the rapidly evolving Internet of Thing (IoT).

Specifically, the Mentor Graphics Corporation is offering businesses earning under $1M (in annual revenue) a free license for the Embedded Nucleus RTOS and Sourcery CodeBench toolset. Both software packages run on Atmel’s ARM-based SAM3x and SAM4x microcontrollers (MCU).


Mentor Graphics’ collaboration with Atmel is expected to accelerate the development of medical, industrial, smart energy and consumer applications – helping to power the next generation of devices for the IoT.

“We see tremendous value in the Nucleus Innovate Program with our high-performance MCUs which provide optimized connectivity for IoT development,” explained Atmel VP Steve Pancoast. 
”Mentor’s Nucleus RTOS and Sourcery CodeBench tools supporting our advanced devices will help small businesses realize the potential of their innovative ideas.”

According to Pancoast, a board support package (BSP) will be available for Atmel’s SAM3X ARM Cortex M3 MCUs and SAM4X Cortex-M4 MCUs in the context of Mentor’s initiative. Indeed, Atmel’s device families, combined with the Mentor Embedded RTOS and tools, are ideal for applications that require high-performance connectivity, power efficiency and high memory densities. To be sure, the program offers devs a complete embedded environment for Atmel-based system designs.

“Our Nucleus Innovate Program with Atmel will give small businesses a competitive edge in developing leading-edge products, including applications for IoT,” said Scot Morrison, general manager of runtime solutions, Mentor Graphics Embedded Software division. “We want to be at the forefront of helping these businesses realize their design ideas without having to worry about the capital required to use best-in-class MCUs, RTOS and embedded software development tools.”

According to Morrison, the Nucleus Innovate Program is ideal for applications where small footprint, high-performance and low power are critical.

“Easy-to-use demonstrations and configurations help shorten development time for medical, industrial, automotive and consumer applications—from days to minutes. The Nucleus Innovate Program for Atmel MCUs is a one-year license agreement and includes one BSP,” he added.

Interested in learning more about Mentor Graphics? You can check out the company’s official embedded software page here.

@Heart with Atmel-powered Arduinos

Arduino has officially kicked off its @Heart initiative. According to company rep Zoe Romano, the program “allows Arduino to build strong partnerships with products and people we appreciate, [while] bringing forward these relationships [and] communicating them clearly with a symbol visible to a broader audience.”

As Romano notes, numerous companies and individual Makers create products based on Arduino tech and would like to be clearly identified as supporters of the versatile platform.

“Arduino@Heart allows them to show they are part of the Arduino ecosystem while receiving support and recognition from Arduino,” Romano explained. “Arduino@Heart is a relationship of mutual help: Arduino supports makers and companies with visibility; at the same time, interesting products show how Arduino can be used in cool sustainable ways.”

Arduino@Heart is available for any product supported by the Arduino Development environment and currently including the following Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs):

Unsupsirisngly, a number of companies have already endorsed the @Heart initiative, including littleBits Electronics, Smart Citizen, Bare Conductive, Aesthetec Studio, primo.io and EarthMake.

“littleBits is thrilled to be a part of the new Arduino@Heart program. An Arduino littleBits module has been a popular request for quite a while and we are huge fans of the Arduino ecosystem and community,” said Ayah Bdeir, the founder/CEO of littleBits Electronics Inc.

“The littleBits Arduino module will simultaneously increase the power of the littleBits library by adding programming capabilities and make the Arduino environment easier to get involved in by eliminating the need for soldering or wiring. We can’t wait to see what people with make with it!”

Filippo Yacob and Matteo Loglio of primo.io limited expressed similar sentiments.

“As a Maker-centric company, we mostly concentrate on ideating and developing products; we believe that this partnership could give us much more visibility through marketing and advertising,” the duo explained.

“Moreover, from our point of view being part of the Arduino@Heart program would increase the visibility in the community and being recognized as ‘Arduino approved’ would stimulate us to improve our processes and products to a quality level that would match the Arduino brand. As a consequence, this makes our product more accessible and user friendly to a community that is already familiar with the technology.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the official Arduino@Heart page here.

Tickle Me….Arduino?

By Stuart Cording

Sorry to disappoint, but no, this isn’t Elmo’s cousin from the Italian version of Sesame Street. If you’re an engineer, it’s something much, much better. A new shield design offering proximity and five touch buttons for the increasingly popular range of Arduino boards. If, after that explanation, you’re none the wiser, read on!

Arduino boards are a range of popular, open-source hardware and software development boards based on Atmel’s range of AVR and, most recently, ARM processor-based SAM3X microcontrollers. The focus of Arduino’s efforts is to make the lives of artists and hobbyists easier by simplifying both the programming of microcontrollers and development of the hardware surrounding them. For professional engineers, Arduino provides an ideal platform for rapid prototyping, test systems and concept design.

The TickleShield, based on Arduino, aims to simplify the use of capacitive touch.

The TickleShield, based on Arduino, aims to simplify the use of capacitive touch.

The functionality of the Arduino boards can be expanded by daughter cards that stack on top, known as “shields”. In order to further simplify the use of capacitive touch, and bring it to Arduino users, I recently started the “TickleShield” project (see picture). As is the way in the wild-wild-west of open source, the project hops along in fits and starts, gaining more and more traction as the concept is shared and feedback on the idea is received.

Of course, there is no better way to rapidly share and gather feedback than via Atmel’s new Spaces cloud-based collaboration workspace where the project, incidentally, is hosted. Why not drop by and participate? Perhaps you have some great ideas on how this shield, or potentially other future touch shields, should function?

BeRTOS Project Source Code

If you’re interested in evaluating the SAM3X microcontroller, Atmel’s ARM Cortex-M3 device, take a look at this SAM3X BeRTOS project. It includes BeRTOS source code for building a SAM3X http demo as well as a SAM7X http demo. (This project resides on a pretty cool wiki, set up by the folks at Digi-Key.)