Tag Archives: Smart Device

Why connect to the cloud with the Atmel | SMART SAM W25?

The “thing” of IoT does not have to necessarily be tiny. 

The Atmel | SMART SAM W25 is, in fact, a module — a “SmartConnect Module.” As far as I am concerned, I like SmartConnect designation and I think it could be used to describe any IoT edge device. The device is “smart” as it includes a processing unit, which in this case is an ARM Cortex-M0-based SAMD21G, and “connect” reminds the Internet part of the IoT definition. Meanwhile, the ATWINC1500 SoC supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n allowing seamless connection to the cloud.

What should we expect from an IoT edge device? It should be characterized by both low cost and power! This IoT system is probably implemented multiple times, either in a factory (industrial) or in a house (home automation), and the cost should be as low as possible to enable large dissemination. I don’t know the SAMD21G ASP, but I notice that it’s based on the smallest MCU core of the ARM Cortex-M family, so the cost should be minimal (my guess). Atmel claims the W25 module to be “fully-integrated single-source MCU + IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi solution providing battery powered endpoints lasting years”… sounds like ultra low-power, doesn’t it?

Atmel claims the W25 module to be “Fully-integrated single-source MCU + IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi solution providing battery powered endpoints lasting years”…sounds like being ultra low-power, isn’t it

The “thing” of IoT does not necessarily have to be tiny. We can see in the above example that interconnected things within the industrial world can be as large as these wind turbines (courtesy of GE). To maximize efficiency in power generation and distribution, the company has connected these edge devices to the cloud where the software analytics allow wind farm operators to optimize the performance of the turbines, based on environmental conditions. According with GE, “Raising the turbines’ efficiency can increase the wind farm’s annual energy output by up to 5%, which translates in a 20% increase in profitability.” Wind turbines are good for the planet as they allow avoiding burning fossil energy. IoT devices implementation allows wind farm operators to increase their profitability and to build sustainable business. In the end, thanks to Industrial Internet of Thing (IIoT), we all benefit from less air pollution and more affordable power!

ATSAMW25 Block-DiagramThe ATWINC1500 is a low-power Systems-on-Chip (SoC) that brings Wi-Fi connectivity to any embedded design. In the example above, this SoC is part of a certified module, the ATSAMW25, for embedded designers seeking to integrate Wi-Fi into their system. If we look at the key features list:

  • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n (1×1) for up to 72 Mbps
  • Integrated PA and T/R switch
  • Superior sensitivity and range via advanced PHY signal processing
  • Wi-Fi Direct, station mode and Soft-AP support
  • Supports IEEE 802.11 WEP, WPA
  • On-chip memory management engine to reduce host load
  • 4MB internal Flash memory with OTA firmware upgrade
  • SPI, UART and I2C as host interfaces
  • TCP/IP protocol stack (client/server) sockets applications
  • Network protocols (DHCP/DNS), including secure TLS stack
  • WSC (wireless simple configuration WPS)
  • Can operate completely host-less in most applications

We can notice that host interfaces allow direct connection to device I/Os and sensors through SPI, UART, I2C and ADC interfaces and can also operate completely host-less. A costly device is then removed from the BOM which can enable economic feasibility for an IoT, or IIoT edge device.

The low-power Wi-Fi certified module is currently employed in industrial systems supporting applications, such as transportation, aviation, healthcare, energy or lighting, as well as in IoT areas like home appliances and consumer electronics. For all these use cases, certification is a must-have feature, but low-cost and ultra-low power are the economic and technical enablers.

This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger and one of the four founding members of the site. This blog first appeared on SemiWiki on November 15, 2015.

PetBot will automatically send you selfies of your pet

PetBot is a smart device that allows you to engage with your pet remotely and to detect when they’re active using artificial intelligence. 

Ask any pet owner and they’ll all tell you the same thing: leaving your cat or dog can be tough. No matter if it’s heading out to the office in the morning or vacationing for a week, it’s quite normal to miss your companion. And whereas humans have FaceTime and Skype to converse with others while away, shouldn’t there be way that you could still connect with your furry companion in similar fashion?


Introducing PetBot, a smart device that lets you engage with your pet remotely — and have them send you selfies. Not only does its built-in camera provide you with a livestream of your beloved animal’s daily routine, it uses artificial (or “petificial”) intelligence to detect, record and notify you when they’re active. What’s more, an accompanying app allows you to communicate with your voice and dispense treats from afar.

PetBot’s AI technology works by recognizing when your cat or dog comes into the camera’s field of view, which triggers it to begin recording. It then uses audio you select to call your pet closer to get a good shot for a selfie. Once the photo is captured, you can share it with your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram followers, while a treat is dispensed for them.


Aside from that, PetBot is an excellent way to train and incentive your pets. The unit enables you to play commands and reinforce behavior with a treat when they listen. The device also features bark recognition, which will perceive a sound from your pet and alert you so that you can stay on top of what’s going on at home. It can even reduce separation anxiety, too. Simply upload MP3 files or record an audio clip of your own for continual playback to good ol’ Fido or Whiskers.

Lastly, PetBot features integrated Bluetooth capabilities for connecting it to existing wearables, such as collars and trackers, and relay the information to PetBot’s soon-to-be-developed Pet Care Hub for automatic updates and real-time insight.

Alright, pet lovers… sound like something you’d love to have? Head over to PetBot’s Indiegogo page, where the team is currently seeking $80,000. Delivery is slated for next spring.

OrbMi is reinventing the answering machine

OrbMi lets you stay in touch with those that matter to you the most.

Take a look around you. Whether you’re in a coffee shop, at work or even sitting in class, chances are nearly everyone has a smartphone in hand. Instead of actually conversing with their voice, more times than not their excitement, emotion and words are being replaced by an “LOL,” “<3” or some sort of emoji. Sad but true, gone are the days when people would use landlines. As the number of ditched landlines and social IM services continue to rise, so does the number of meaningful messages. Well aware of this change, Florida-based startup Retropreneur Labs has set to reverse this trend by reinventing the age-old answering machine for today’s mobile-centric world.


Howeverunlike the antiquated answering machine, OrbMi is not for missed calls — it’s for the voice messages people aren’t getting or sending, but should. The personal voice messaging system is designed to provide your closest friends and family a more convenient way to both send and receive comments, so your daily routine isn’t disrupted by unwanted texts and emails, nor will you have to scroll through hundreds of phone contacts. Plus, this should prove to be useful for those living in different time zones or find themselves working opposite schedules. 

“At its heart, it’s about better communication at the perfect time, every time. It allows us to share more freely and openly with our loved ones without inconvenience or disruption. With OrbMi, it’s ALWAYS a good time to call,” its co-founders Kelly Dyer and Andrew Ruppar explain. The duo had conceived the idea after challenging themselves to conceptualize a smart gadget that would change how people interact through technology.


Not only does its companion app make voice messaging relevant again, the OrbMi is different from other voice messaging alternatives, as it allows you to control your network of people who you can “Orb” or who can “Orb” you — also known as your “Orbit.”

With an ATmega168 at its core, the hardware device features a single button interface that enables you to play your messages. From the mobile app, just send a color and voice message to anyone in your Orbit. This message is received on the Orb and illuminates a soft color glow to indicate a new message is available. Once the receiver is at their Orb and ready to listen, they simply tap the top and the new memo is emitted through a built-in speaker. Not unlike the answering machines of yesterday, you can skip and repeat through your saved messages as well. What’s more, the Orb works by connecting to your home or office Wi-Fi network and doubles as a multi-port USB charging hub for your smartphones and tablets.


“Mobile devices allow us to communicate efficiently, but not sometimes not effectively. No matter how convenient our mobile lifestyles, we can’t lose our ability to communicate through voice, especially when sending meaningful messages.” Dyer adds.

So whether you’re a grandparent, a spouse, a college student, or a soldier overseas, OrbMi is ideal for anyone —  regardless of age, location and technical proficiency. Intrigued? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Retropreneur Labs team is currently seeking $75,000. The app is available for both iOS and Android, with one for the Apple Watch app in the works. The first batch of units is expected to begin shipping in March 2016.