Tag Archives: Smartwatch

Tardis is an Arduino-compatible smartwatch


The Tardis Watch is a perfect DIY alternative to those either ‘boring’ wearables. 


Maker Moritz Wenzel has created an Arduino-compatible, software and hardware expandable smartwatch appropriately named Tardis Smartwatch.

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“Currently, every company on the market [has] built their own smartwatch, nice small devices that makes your life a little bit easier and more comfortable. But for a Maker, a hacker, a hobbyist or a nerd who loves hackable devices and creating own projects, these ‘boring’ smartwatches are no real alternative,” Wenzel writes.

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According to the Maker, the Tardis Smartwatch makes it possible to visualize Arduino projects, connecting them with either the watch itself or your smartphone via Bluetooth.

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Powered by an ATmega32U4 MCU, the wearable device is comparable in size to typical watch faces already on the market (41mm x 40mm x 13mm) and is equipped with a wide-range of components:

  • 1.44” TFT color display with 128 x 128 resolution
  • USB 2.0
  • Gyro, accelerometer and magnetometer
  • Real-time clock
  • LiPo battery 
  • microSD card slot
  • Tiny speaker
  • Temperature sensor
  • Two (2) tactile switches for navigation (one for UI, another for home/reset button)

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Inspired by former AVR Hero and recent Kickstarter success Phoenard, the Tardis Smartwatch features a Phoenex-compatible connector for the I/O pins. This enables Makers to effortlessly connect their development boards, DIY projects and common Arduino Shields via a board adapter to the watch.

Such compatibility allows Makers to easily and cost-efficiently create smart clothes, an area which is bound for tremendous growth. In fact, Gartner believes the emergence of these electronic textiles will potentially disrupt the wearables space, increasing these garments to 26 million units in 2016.

Wenzel notes that users won’t need to integrate a power supply (battery) and an MCU into their wearables; instead, they can simply connect their shirt, pullover, jacket or any other sort of garment trough the Phoenex-compatible GPIO Port to the Tardis Smartwatch.

“Jump with the wearable technology into the next galaxy: Your watch can be the controlling and powering unit for your clothes, and simply turn them into smart clothes.”

Interested in learning more about the megaAVR based watch? You can follow along with his build on the project’s Facebook page here.

Adafruit teardown of Moto 360 reveals maXTouch inside

In what may have been the most highly-anticipated Android Wear smartwatch to date, the Moto 360 is equipped with a bold round face, heart rate monitor, and comes in both black and grey metal finishes. During a recent teardown from the Adafruit crew, Limor Fried even referred to it as a “jam-packed watch [that’s] kind of intense. [They] basically crammed a phone into a watch.”

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Upon dissecting the device, Fried reveals an MXT112S capacitive controller embedded within the watch, thereby confirming that the device is indeed powered by Atmel. “This is not a TI chip, this is from Atmel. Reason why they didn’t go with a TI chip is because TI doesn’t have a chip that does this,” she adds.

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The wearable boasts a 1.56-inch, 320×290 display with a backlit LCD touchscreen. The Moto 360’s body comes in at a diameter of 46mm and height of 11.5mm, while the leather band model weighs 49g – essentially, the same weight as your everyday wristwatch. Enhancing its durability, the attractive display is protected by a Gorilla Glass 3 covering.

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Like all Android Wear devices, the Moto 360 features a wake-on-wrist-flick and automatic voice response via the “Ok Google” trigger, which allows a wearer to send texts, set reminders and such. It is compatible with any Android phone or tablet running Android 4.3 or higher, and has IP67 water resistance with submersion of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. What this means: Shower, good. Swimming, not so much.

The Moto 360′s 320mAh battery should get you about a day of mixed usage. Additionally, the smartwatch comes with a pretty standard 4GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM, in addition to the vibration motor included for notifications. Like other smartwatches, the Motorola accessory can be connected to your mobile device using Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy.

Interested in learning more about the brains of this wearable gadget? Watch the entire teardown from Adafruit below!

will.i.am launches Puls, a smart cuff

We’ve seen him at Maker Faires. We’ve seen him create 3D printers. We’ve seen him drive futuristic cars. Now, will.i.am is entering the wearable market with a next-gen smartwatch, or cuff as he calls its.

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With 19.2 million wearable devices set to ship this year and over 112 million expected be in use by 2018, it’s no wonder will.i.am has decided to embark on his latest venture. With brains and beauty, not only is it a SMART idea, his newfound company I.Am.Plus Electronics LLC hopes to make body-adorned tech more fashionable!

The device, which has officially been named Puls, was first exhibited by will.i.am on Channel 4’s Alan Carr: Chatty Man back in April, and has also made appearances on The Voice in the UK. “I don’t carry my phone anymore, this is my phone. A lot of these smart watches need phones — mine doesn’t need a phone,” will.i.am explained.

On October 15th, the entrepreneur and Grammy Award-winning artist took center stage at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce 2014 in San Francisco to debut his newest product, which is expected to rival others on the market — such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S. Wearers will be able to use the gadget like a phone, by making calls, using apps and of course, listening to the latest tunes from the Black Eyed Peas.

The smart cuff will be voice-controlled via a Siri-like feature called Aneeda. This meaning that the wearer can tell the digital personal assistant when to play a song, make a call, among number of other tasks. For those who prefer to type than speak, the Puls has a touch keyboard as well.

(Source: WSJ)

(Source: WSJ)

With its battery located all around the strap, the gadget delivers about five hours of continuous power, which means you’ll need to charge it daily. Luckily, power-ups should take less than an hour.

Not only will the smartwatch be equipped with Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities, it doesn’t need to be paired with a phone in order to have full-functionality. The untethered cuff, which boasts 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, even features applications like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as the ability to text, read and write emails, and track your steps.

“This is not a watch, by any means,” will.i.am told the crowd. “Watches don’t have SIM cards. This is a new type of communication.”

And in true will.i.am fashion, he will also stay ahead of the curve… literally… by including curved display. Not only will this make for a better format to watch videos or read lengthy emails, but the “onscreen keyboard overcomes the challenge of small keys with software that accurately guesses words that are being typed within a few taps,” .  

The Puls, which will hit stores before the end of the year, will start at $499 and be offered exclusively with carrier partner AT&T.

will.i.am emphasizes that, “This conversation that we’re having about wearables, the thing on your wrist that talks to your phone, that’s not the future… There’s no reason why the thing on your wrist shouldn’t be able to do everything. There’s no reason for it to talk to a phone at all.”

“Now there’s tools for people that have idea to quickly materialize them, the democratization of everything possible.” As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, the technophile founder of the Black Eyed Peas has offered a ringing endorsement of the Maker Movement — surely not a surprise given his passion for innovation and recent creative roles at a number of tech giants.

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“Every young person is going to be inspired to be a Maker from now on. It’s like how everyone used to want to be a vian, an actor, an athlete — but a Maker is what people are going to want to be.”

Atmel based smartwatch shines at Maker Faire Rome

Jonathan Cook’s Atmel based BLE smart watch has now not only been named the official winner of MAKE‘s Arduino Challenge, but has collected a “Maker of Merit” ribbon at Maker Faire — The European Edition recently held in Rome.

Powered by an ATmega644PA Microduino Core and an ATmega1284P microcontroller (MCU), the device features Bluetooth LE connectivity and in true Maker style, a 3D-printed case. As Cook notes, “The core of the watch consists of three small boards: A Microduino Core +, a Bluegiga BLE112 chip, and a voltage regulator.”

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“The watch is the latest iteration of an ongoing BLE watch endeavor Cook has been exploring for the past nine months,” MAKE Magazine’s Mike Senese explained in a recent article.

In addition to the typical time and date functionality as seen in any watch, the Maker has sought out to develop an interface that any smartwatch wearer would want — email access, Facebook notification, Twitter updates, etc.

When he first started his project, Cook claimed that he had a series of goals in mind, such as building 100% Arduino-compatible hardware, insuring sufficient program memory, featuring at least one day’s worth of battery life, including BLE as both central and peripheral, and keeping it in a compact, convenient size.

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Those interested in learning more about the 3D-printed smartwatch can access a detailed step-by-step breakdown of the build here.

TomTom Runner teardown reveals ATSAM4S8C inside

Back at Maker Faire Bay Area in May, the iFixit team took a deeper dive into the technology that is powering some of today’s sports watches, like the TomTom Runner. During its teardown, the iFixit team revealed that the wearable device was powered by an Atmel ATSAM4S8C.

The popular GPS sports watch is equipped with a built-in heart rate monitor, a large monochrome LCD display and one-button control. In addition, the TomTom Runner is embedded with an accelerometer and sensors allowing it to work both outdoors, indoors and even on a treadmill, thus providing providing a user with the kind of data they’d expect to find on most sports watches — such as distance, pace, stride length, calories burned and lap times all in real-time. Bluetooth Smart support also enables a user to sync the Runner with other devices, including a heart rate strap.

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Based on ARM’s powerful Cortex-M4 core, the Atmel | SMART SAM4S lineup offers increased performance and power efficiency, higher memory densities (up to 2MB of Flash and 160KB of SRAM), along with an extensive peripheral set for connectivity, system control and analog interfacing. The SAM4S operates at 120MHz and integrates Atmel’s Flash read accelerator, along with optional cache memory to increase system performance. The SAM4S also features a multi-layer bus matrix, multi-channel direct memory access (DMA) and distributed memory to support high data rate communication.

So, how low is low in terms of power consumption? Well, the Atmel | SMART SAM4S family manages to achieve 200µA/MHz in dynamic mode at a low operating frequency; 30mA at 120MHz; and 1µA at 1.8V in back-up mode with the real-time clock (RTC) running. In short, it offers some of the best power consumption/performance rates on the market for standby mode, achieving 120MHz+ operating frequency with a RAM retention mode below 25µA.

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On the security side, the SAM4S prevents unauthorized access to on-chip memory, supports secure device reconditioning (chip erase) for reprogramming – while a 128-bit ID and scrambled external bus interface ensures software confidentiality as the hardware cyclic redundancy check (CRC) checks memory integrity. And last, but certainly not least, fitting a device with a SAM4S means easy access to Atmel Studio 6, which offers hundreds of ARM project examples with source code to streamline the design process.

Joining a number of other watchmakers, TomTom Runner is the latest device to feature an Atmel | SMART SAM4S microcontroller. If you recall, Secret Labs announced last year that their AGENT smartwatch was powered by both the SAM4S and tinyAVR microcontrollers.

For those interested in learning more, Atmel engineers have recently published 28 application notes for the company’s comprehensive Atmel | SMART SAM4S devices.

Turn your Moto 360 into a classic 007 smartwatch

Though the Atmel MXT112S powered Moto 360 has only been out for a few days, that was plenty of time for the Makers at Phandroid to apply one of the coolest custom smartwatch interfaces ever to the device’s circular display. If you grew up playing GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo 64, you will surely appreciate the Secret Agent Watchface. After all, a bold watch calls for some bold measures.

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Inspired by the classic video game, the design emulates that of 007 agent James Bond’s wrist-adorned gadget that allows you to read mission files, check your health and body armor, detonate explosives, and employ a bolt-blasting laser.

“The watchface faithfully recreates that same UI, complete with health and armor bars (now used to show battery life). While the watchface originally launched before a round Android Wear device existed, it now finds itself perfectly at home on the Moto 360,” Phandroid writes.

The smartwatch face carries over colored tiles and the classic deep-dark-green menu interface. Rather than monitoring how close you are to termination, the round display reveals the wearer’s real-life, non-deteriorating health via the red bar on the left, while the device’s battery life using the blue bar on the right.

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“Smartwatch software can only improve from its rather rudimentary beginnings. As device and operating system makers like Google hand developers more tools through application programming interfaces (APIs), the smartwatch app marketplace will grow to include more of the fun hacks that the device makers don’t think up themselves. Though smartwatches may never be as robust a playground for developers as smartphone have been, clever interface designs and neat tricks that give us the ability to customize and tinker with our smartwatches will only continue to blossom over the coming months.”

And while the display looks incredibly accurate to that of Mr. Bond’s, sadly no laser beam is included.

This 3D-printed wearable is larger than life

Maker Zack Freedman was frustrated by the subtlety of the current wearables on the market. In opposition of current trends, he set out to develop a smartwatch that stood out from the slick wearable crowd, and with the SmarTwatCh he did just that.

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His entire wristwatch case was 3D-printed and filled to the brim with high-tech gadgets. Aside from a few basic features, this one-of-a-kind wearable boasts a laser, a flashlight, and a fully-functional Breathalyzer. The device also includes a ‘TV B Gone,’ which in Freedman’s words “sends the ‘off’ command for pretty much every television in North America, one after another.”

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The Arduino-compatible unit can also control PowerPoint presentations and Google Glass. As Freedman so nonchalantly told Hackaday, “The only thing better than a wearable, is a wearable that controls a wearable!”

In the future, Freedman contemplates adding a sensor system or a control platform to his SmarTwaCh, but until then, the gadget’s future remains undecided. “What’s the the future of the project? Who knows? The future is a weird place and I can only hope to make it weirder.”

If you want to read more about Zach’s creation, you can see a full breakdown over at his site.

Salesforce launches dev kit for wearables

Salesforce has rolled out a software development pack for wearable devices. Backed by a number of industry heavyweights such as ARM, the dev kit is expected to accelerate adoption of wearables in the enterprise.

“Wearables are the next phase of the mobile revolution,” said Salesforce exec Daniel Debow.

“With Salesforce Wear, companies can now capture the massive opportunity these devices offer to connect with customers in new ways.”

According to a recent IHS white paper titled “Wearable Technology – Market Assessment,” roughly 50 million wearable units will be sold in 2014, while more than 180 million are predicted to sell in 2018.

“With the massive number of devices coming into market, it is imperative that companies understand how consumers will operate in a hands-free world. Wearables are the future of mobile, and companies can now discover new ways to market, sell, service and more,” added Debow.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, wearable device technologies will become an integral part of enterprise mobile enablement strategies – increasing at an impressive CAGR value of 56.1% over the next five years.

As senior ABI Research enterprise analyst Jason McNicol notes, the North American region is expected to be the largest, growing at a CAGR value of 39% over the next five years. Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region is slated to become the second largest market, outpacing Europe by 2019 with a CAGR of 90%.

“There are cases being made for wearables in the enterprise despite the relative newness of the technology. However, which wearables are primed for enterprise usage and adoption is a more important question,” McNicol explained.

“Wearable technology such as smart glasses and those used for healthcare are better suited for the enterprise as corporate-liable devices. Smartwatches, on the other hand, will most likely follow the trend of BYOD into the enterprise.”

More specifically, ABI Research recently identified six types of wearable devices: smart glasses, cameras, smart watches, healthcare, sports/activity trackers and 3D motion trackers. Healthcare wearables, smart glasses and smart watches will be the dominant form-factors purchased by the enterprise and used by employees.

All told, the research firm expects a total of 90 million wearable devices to ship in 2014 across multiple markets. As senior analyst Joshua Flood points out, wearable tech will be characterized by a diversity of products, although only those with clear use-cases and target audiences are likely to succeed.

“[2014] will be a critical period for the acceptance and adoption of wearable devices. Healthcare and sports and activity trackers are rapidly becoming mass-market products,” the analyst confirmed.

“On the flipside, wearable devices like smart watches need to overcome some critical obstacles. Aesthetic design, more compelling use cases, battery life and lower price points are the main inhibitors. How vendors approach these challenges and their respective solutions will affect the wearable market far in the future.”

According to Flood, chipset vendors are beginning to pave the way with interesting wearable reference designs that will allow non-technology OEMs and brands to quickly jump upon the wearable device bandwagon and offer diverse, innovative, unique and stylish solutions.

“While smart glasses could be the starting point moving away from today’s touchscreen smartphones to eyewear devices using a voice interface, pricing, battery life and style will all play crucial roles for market traction,” he continued.

“Due to these limitations, the enterprise sector will be the early target for smart glasses before they are ready for mass-market adoption. [We] expect more than two million smart glasses [to] ship in 2014, [with] the category forecast to grow rapidly from 2015 onwards. Mobile enabling technologies like augmented reality will play a vital part in enhancing smart glass capabilities.”

Indeed, smart glasses and smartwatches will account for a relatively small segment of the wearable device market in 2014, with medical, wellness and sports and activity wearable devices expected to provide the bulk of wearable device shipments this year.

“Activity trackers will continue to be the most popular wearable device as people carefully monitor their activity levels and energy output. Concerns around weight management and even obesity are the prime drivers behind this wearable device type,” Flood concluded.

“The collection and analysis of the captured personal performance data through associated websites and their communities is also a crucial element in building out the use-case.”

Report: Wearables to drive significant battery revenue

Analysts at IHS say the global market for batteries used in wearable electronics will increase more than tenfold in just four short years, propelled by new devices suitable for active sports and fitness lifestyles. 

Indeed, worldwide revenue for wearable electronics batteries is projected to reach $77 million by 2018, up considerably from a mere $6 million by year-end in 2014.

In addition, industry revenue will have grown nearly 120 percent from 2014 levels.

“Wearable electronics will be the key to sustaining the current very-high-growth levels of battery revenue in consumer electronics,” explained Thomas McAlpine, power supply and storage component analyst for IHS.

“The tremendous expansion in store will come thanks to an increase in the shipments of smartwatch products, wearable health monitoring devices and smart glasses—products geared toward an active lifestyle combining advanced technological trends in miniature computing with newly smart consumer imperatives in fitness and fashion.”

In addition, annual shipments for wearable electronic devices will reach an estimated 56 million units by 2018, fueling continued demand for the batteries that power these products.

“Of the total number of batteries expected to be installed in wearable electronics by 2018, lithium polymer batteries will take the predominant share, accounting for 73 percent of total wearable electronics battery revenue,” said McAlpine. 

”Lithium polymer batteries are typically the preferred choice as they are lighter in weight and can be manufactured into a wider range of shapes and sizes, compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries.”

Smartphone and tablet PC demand will continue to drive the majority of revenue growth in the lithium battery market for portable electronics over the next couple of years, with the combined shipments of these devices projected to grow 46 percent from 2013 to 2015. 

However, shipments will decrease from 2015 onward, and coupled with projected erosion in the average selling prices of lithium battery cells, growth will decelerate for the overall lithium battery market for portable consumer electronics.

“This means the emergence of new applications in the market is critical. Lithium batteries will remain an integral component for innovation in consumer electronics,” McAlpine added. “To achieve sustained market growth, new wearable electronics and other devices need to be introduced and adopted by the mass market, similar to what is occurring now in recently emerging product categories.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel is right in the middle of the wearable tech revolution, with the the soft electronics DIY Maker community adapting various Atmel-powered platforms specifically for wearables, including the Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328V) (developed by MIT Media Lab professor Leah Buechley), along with Adafruit’s very own Gemma (Atmel ATtiny85) and Flora (ATmega32u4), the latter of which can be easily daisy chained with various sensors for GPS, motion and light.

In addition, Atmel’s microcotrollers are found in a number of smartwatches and wearable medical devices.

Interested in learning more about wearables? You can check out our extensive article archive on the subject here.

Atmel’s SAM4S – powering smart watches and more

Based on ARM’s powerful Cortex-M4 core, the Atmel SAM4S lineup offers increased performance and power efficiency, higher memory densities (up to 2MB of Flash and 160KB of SRAM), along with an extensive peripheral set for connectivity, system control and analog interfacing.

The SAM4S operates at 120MHz and integrates Atmel’s Flash read accelerator, along with optional cache memory to increase system performance. The SAM4S also features a multi-layer bus matrix, multi-channel direct memory access (DMA) and distributed memory to support high data rate communication.

As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s SAM4S microcontroller took center stage earlier this week when it tipped up in the Agent smart watch, a Kickstarter project that has already managed to raise over $413,000 with an impressive 3,000 backers.

Indeed, the Agent smart watch effectively combines the above-mentioned SAM4S and tinyAVR MCUs to provide longer battery life – consuming less than half the power of competing silicon.

“Extremely low power consumption is achieved through Atmel’s picoPower
with the low-power RAM retention capabilities of the SAM4S microcontroller. Essentially, the tinyAVR MCU handles maintenance tasks and events while the SAM4S ARM deals with the operating system and related apps,” an Atmel rep explained.

“This combination optimizes power use and enables the larger SAM4S microcontroller to remain in sleep mode for as long as possible. Additionally, the smart watch intelligently switches into airplane mode when remaining battery life reaches 10 percent, enabling
traditional watch functionality even in low-battery conditions.”

So how low is low in terms of power consumption? Well, the SAM4S lineup manages to achieve 200µA/MHz in dynamic mode at a low operating frequency; 30mA at 120MHz; and 1µA at 1.8V in back-up mode with the real-time clock (RTC) running. In short, it offers some of the best power consumption/performance rates on the market for standby mode, achieving 120MHz+ operating frequency with a RAM retention mode below 25µA.

On the security side, the SAM4S prevents unauthorized access to on-chip memory, supports secure device reconditioning (chip erase) for reprogramming – while a 128-bit ID and scrambled external bus interface ensures software confidentiality as the hardware cyclic redundancy check (CRC) checks memory integrity.

And last, but certainly not least, fitting a device with a SAM4S means easy access to Atmel Studio 6, which offers hundreds of ARM project examples with source code to streamline the design process.

Key data about the SAM4S can be found here, while additional information about the Agent smart watch is available here on Kickstarter.