Tag Archives: touchscreen

Skylight is a smart frame that lets you beam photos to a loved one

This plug-and-play frame is perfect for grandparents who just want a frame that works without any hassle. 

Long before the age of social media, emails and smartphones, photographs used to have a special place inside our homes. We took the time to capture precious moments, have those images developed, frame them and eventually display them proudly on tables, shelves and along the mantel. But what about the older generation? Why should they not be able to stay up-to-date with their loved ones as they experience some of life’s most joyous occasions? That’s what one group of Harvard Business School students have set out to solve.


Skylight is a touch-enabled, Wi-Fi-connected photo frame that allows users to simply email pictures from their phone or computer directly onto a loved one’s device — from anywhere in the world.

How it works is relatively easy. A user snaps a photo and sends it to a uniquely assigned Skylight email address. The photo then suddenly appears on the frame in real-time. As soon as photos are added to Skylight, they are automatically resized to fit in the 7-inch, high-quality display. The 1024×600 LED screen will showcase the snapshots in a 1.7:1 aspect ratio, while photos will also be rotated to their proper orientation automatically. The frame supports a wide range of file types, including JPEG, JPG, BMP, PNG and GIF.

Not only is it super simple to share images, the out-of-the-box ready device connects to Wi-Fi in less than 60 seconds via its touchscreen interface. In fact, Skylight was designed with parents and grandparents in mind, especially those who just want a frame that works without any hassle. The team adds, “After you turn it on, it automatically detects available Wi-Fi networks, and the touchscreen makes it easy to connect to the one of your choice. From there, Skylight will display any photos you send to it in a chronological slideshow.”


Beyond that, the frame owner will receive a notification whenever new photos are sent, and with a mere touch of the screen, can view them. If a loved one wants to show how much they enjoyed a particular picture, they just tap an accompanying heart button and Skylight relays an email back to the original sending letting them know.

“Digital frames tried to solve this, but have always come up short. They’re complicated to use, and what’s worse, no one ever updates them since they require a USB or memory card to add photos. The photos you want to share are on your phone or laptop, not a USB,” the team adds.

Sound like something your family would like to have? Hurry over to Skylight’s official Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $30,000. Pending all goes to plan, shipment is slated for August 2015 — just in time to capture those back-to-school memories!

Manga Screen is a multi-touch display for Maker projects

Manga Screen is a 4.3″ LCD screen with a capacitive touch panel and HDMI input.

Developed by Oslo-based Maker Elias Bakken, the Manga Screen is a high-definition, 4.3” LCD screen. Powered by USB, the capacitive multi-touch screen can be used with any device that has an HDMI output, including a Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, Odroid and Arduino Tre.


At the heart of the fully open-source project lies an ATmega16U4, along with several other electronic components including a DVI receiver, a capacitive touch panel controller and an LCD screen.

“The resolution is high for such a small screen with 800×480 (WVGA) and the capacitive touchscreen driver used is the fabulous mXT224 from Atmel. It adds a few bucks more than the Chinese copies, but when you touch it, you will know where that extra money went,” the Maker writes.


As demonstrated by Bakken’s working prototype, the Manga Screen can be a welcomed addition to a wide-range of applications, such as a RepRap 3D printer display, a DIY automated coffeemaker control panel or a monitor for an array musical projects.


Interested in a high-res screen for your next creation? You can head on over to its official Kickstarter page, where Bakken is well on his way of achieving his kr65,000 goal.

This smart band wants to turn your arm into a touchscreen

It looks like we’re inching ever so close to a Minority Report-like future after all. That’s because Paris-based company Cicret (pronounced “secret”) is looking to kick the wearables game up a notch by transforming your arm into your phone’s screen. With the smart bracelet, the team’s promo video explains that “you can do what you use to do with a tablet but diretly on your skin and without any smartphone.”


Say you’re taking a hot bath, for instance, and you want to catch up on the day’s emails. While your mobile device is nowhere to be found, you can simply pull up your inbox on your arm — soapy hands and all. Or, perhaps you’re waiting for a cab. Instead of having to reach down into your pocket, you can easily flick your wrist and access a game or the weather instantaneously. Reading a book on the sofa when a call suddenly comes in and your phone is out of reach? No problem! Answer right from your arm. Pretty convenient, right?


The Cicret bracelet, which resembles the Jawbone Up, works by projecting your Android interface directly onto your forearm, turning your limb into an interactive, swappable, touch-sensitive, full-color display. It operates as a standalone wearable device and is activated with a whisk of the wrist. According to its team, the idea was first conceived a year ago and developed over a span of six months.


As its demo reel reveals, the snap-on device works its magic through an embedded system consisting of proximity sensors, a pico projector an, accelerometer, a memory card, a main processor, a vibrator, a vibrator, along with some LEDs for notifications. The proximity sensors detect where the user’s finger or fingers are and allow them to interact with the interface as they would any other Android device. Connectivity is provided by way of BLE, Wi-Fi and a micro USB port. Not to mention, the wearable gizmo comes in either 16GB or 32GB, and in 10 vibrant colors.

Does it seem too good to be true? Well, time will only tell. Unfortunately, at the moment there isn’t a prototype. (*Scratches head.*) However, Cicret co-founder Guillaume Pommier has told Gizmag that the first prototype is due for completion in approximately three weeks time.

Meanwhile, a team from Carnegie Mellon University’s Future Interfaces Group has been able to create touch-sensitive projected icons made on a user’s skin, aptly named Skin Buttons. While it may not be an entire screen display, the design does demonstrate a new way to “expand the interactive envelope around smartwatches, allowing human input to escape the small physical confines of the device.”


As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, the proof-of-concept implementation can be used for a range of applications, many of which typically found on a mobile device, such as accessing music, reading emails and text messages, as well as checking the time or setting an alarm. The prototype is comprised of four fixed-icon laser projectors along with accompanying infrared proximity sensors. These are connected to an ATmega328P based board, which communicates over USB with a host computer. Additionally, a 1.5-inch TFT LCD display is driven from a host computer. While the team used an external computer for prototyping, it appears that a commercial model would be self-contained.

Well, regardless as to whether or not Cicret’s idea will come to fruition, it’s clear that we are ever so close to a skin interface future. A future in which even Dick Tracy would likely be impressed by the mere notion of such wearable gadgetry.

The question is, what’s next for this tech space? If these ideas are a glimpse into what we can expect in the forthcoming months, we’re excited!

Smart traffic lights let pedestrians play Pong with others across the street

For those of us living in a metropolitan area, we all know how boring it can be to wait at a crosswalk. Now, well at least in Hildesheim, Germany anyway, pedestrians can keep themselves entertained by playing the game of Pong against others across the street. Get ready to say goodbye to those red figurines at traffic lights!


Back in 2012, a duo of HAWK University students unveiled a concept for what they dubbed “StreetPong.” Following the immediate virality of its original video (seen below), Makers Amelie Künzler and Sandro Angel were compelled to begin working with design firms and traffic experts to build a fully-functional, game-playing device.

Why? “Because you use it while waiting … and you’re not passive, you’re active,” the team explains. “We think everyone should have the opportunity to sweeten up their waiting time. And we’re also so-called lifesavers, because: Why would you want to cross the street at a red pedestrian light when you have the opportunity to play a game and have fun?”

Two years later, the game units — rebranded as ActiWait — have been completed and approved for use by the German city, where they were installed just a few weeks ago. Pending positive response from its trial, the team hopes to expand to more intersections. In fact, they have already received interest from a number cities spanning across the globe, including Lyon and Oslo.


How it works is relatively simple. SmartPong features a pair of devices, which are comprised of touchscreens enclosed in a 3D-printed cases,  located in plain view of pedestrians on each side of the road. As soon as its adjacent traffic light turns red, walkers can begin playing. Once the traffic light turns green, the little screen reveals a “thumbs up” to notify the pedestrian that they can cross along with how much time they have to get to the other side. Upon the next red light, the game restarts for others to play.

The two-way communication is made possible through an AT86RF233 transceiver, while some other Atmel components can be found embedded inside the touchscreen controllers.


Not only are the devices a clever way to pass the time while waiting for cars, perhaps will help deter jaywalking and increase safety often overlooked by impatient pedestrians darting into traffic.

Why stop at games? Now seeking €35,000 on Indiegogo, the team hopes to enhance its wireless connectivity and design to enable a number of other applications including real-time news feeds, navigation, citizen surveys or even speed dating!  Interested in learning more? Head on over to the team’s crowdfunding campaign page here.

Nexus 6 teardown reveals Atmel MXT640T inside

Hailed as the iPhone 6’s brother from an Android mother, the time for Google’s Nexus 6 has arrived. As soon as the crew over at iFixit got their hands on the new device, which was developed in collaboration with Motorola, we knew what came next! The team dismantled the recently-unveiled phablet to offer a closer glimpse at its insides.

(Source: iFixit)

(Source: iFixit)

Catering to consumers’ appetite for larger displays, Nexus 6 boasts a 5.96-inch touchscreen and features a 2560 x 1440 AMOLED panel. in addition, it runs on Google’s new operating system, Android 5.0 Lollipop, and will be available in both 32GB and 64GB models.

The teardown revealed that the phablet packs 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM, a Snapdragon 805 SoC, various cellular components from Qualcomm, a 3220 mAh “non-removable” battery, as well as 13 MP rear-facing camera and a 2 MP front-facing camera.

(Source: iFixit)

(Source: iFixit)

After freeing the motherboard from the display assembly, iFixit spotted its lone IC: an Atmel MXT640T touchscreen controller.

(Source: iFixit)

(Source: iFixit)

And for those who frequently break or enjoy tearing apart their phones, you’re in luck. The flagship device received a repairability score of 7 out of 10. Interested in getting up close and personal with the Nexus 6? You can check out the entire step-by-step teardown here.

Bare Conductive makes window shopping more interesting

Our friends at Bare Conductive are at it again, this time transforming once-ordinary storefronts into touchscreens. UK-based creative agency Knit and jean specialist Hiut Denim Co. are using conductive ink to usher window shopping on the streets of London into today’s digital-savvy world.


Known for its creative community, Hiut Denim Co. felt that it was “appropriate to ‘tech hack’ a pair of jeans and utilize the latest innovation — conductive ink.” So, in order to tell the story, the denim specialist turned to Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint to create an interface using the storefront of exclusive British retailer Rivet and Hide.


As Bare Conductive notes, the mastermind behind the design Jack Chalkley utilized an [Atmel based] Arduino, MP3 shields, capacitive sensing pads and Electric Paint to bring the concept to life. The backside of the vinyl stencils were painted with Electric Paint to create sensors — registering a change of capacity when touched. According to Chalkley, the paint made an ideal alternative to transparent capacitive stickers given the project’s timeframe and budget.

The installation enables those walking by to hear about the history of Hiut, as well as stay informed of its latest jean collections, simply by interacting with icons affixed to the outside of the store window. This would appear to be the first-time ever that conductive ink has been used through glass — and certainly as part of a retail installation.


How it works is relatively simple: The ink senses the change in capacitance as the person touches the window icon, which in turn prompts the circuit to play a corresponding sample using transducer speakers. In addition to audio, light bulbs are programmed to switch on to create an even more compelling visual impact.


The stylish icons — which represent different parts of the brand’s story — were painted onto the inside of the window using conductive ink, while wires on the inside of the window were linked to a respective product. Various Atmel powered Arduino units were embedded within the pair of jeans, and responsible for controlling the triggers and audio samples.

“In a shop where even the metal hangers are hand made the paint’s aesthetic was also of importance: ‘It matched the materials aspect of both Rivet and Hide with their premium denim and Hiut with their focus on quality craft. The fact we also had a very handmade approach fitted nicely with that,’” Bare Conductive explains.

This Maker-inspired way to convert glass displays into real-time, interactive interfaces will continue to open windows of opportunities… literally. The question is: Where can Bare Conductive be used next? Bus stops, maps, menus… the list just goes on and on!

As previously seen inside our Maker Faire and Embedded World booths, an ATmega32U4 MCU can be found at the core of Bare Conductive’s Touch Board which enables Makers to transform touch into sound in countless ways.

Motorola unveils Moto X and Moto 360 smartwatch

Last week at IFA 2014, Motorola announced a refresh of its product line with the revealing of the new Moto X and Moto 360 smartwatch.


In what may have been the most highly-anticipated Android Wear smartwatch to date, the Moto 360 comes equipped with a bold round face, heart rate monitor, both black and gray metal finishes. The wearable boasts a 1.5-inch 320×290 display with a backlit LCD touchscreen, powered by an Atmel MXT112S capacitive controller as a recent iFixit teardown revealed (in blue above). The 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.

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 bad.

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.

(Source: Business Insider)

(Source: Business Insider)

(Source: Forbes)

(Source: Forbes)

Motorola has now also taken aim at the affordable smartphone market with the new rendition of its Moto X flagship Android smartphone. The Moto X sports a 5.2-inch 1080p full HD display, 13-megapixel camera and a new dual LED flash that the company says provides more balanced light. Under its 1080p AMOLED display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, there lies a 2.5Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM.

“It’s high quality screen: it’s sharper, brighter, bigger, and just nicer to look at than the previous model. It has tremendous viewing angles, punchy colors, and can be seen in bright sunlight without issue. It’s everything the display on a flagship smartphone in 2014 should be,” Verge‘s Dan Seifert reviews.

The new Moto X measures 140.8 x 72.4mm (5.54 x 2.85 inches) with its tapered back ranging from 3.8 to 9.9mm (0.15-0.38 inches). To make room for the bigger screen, the phone itself needed to grow just a bit. The second generation Moto X retains the curved back from the original, but with a slightly slimmer width; as a result, the sloped design allows for the device to rest comfortably in a user’s hand. Despite its increased size, the Moto X may actually feel smaller than it should because of its new, metal frame that replaced the plastic on its predecessor.

“The new Moto X is shorter than the HTC One M8 and the Galaxy S5, while still having a larger display than either of them. It’s big, but not nearly as big as I normally expect a 5.2-inch smartphone to be. Part of that is because Motorola has maximized the screen’s footprint and shrunk the bezel surrounding it even further than before. Even so, it’s still managed to find room for a camera, light sensors, a new speaker, and new infrared sensors on the front of the phone,” Verge reveals.

Not only can you still launch the Moto X camera with a flick of the wrist, that’s not all. The new 13Mp camera starts to cache photos before you press the shutter so that it can capture the best looking photo, filtering out blurry shots or pics of people blinking. If you like taking selfies, this feature will surely be music to your ears!

(Source: Verge)

(Source: Verge)

As with the original Moto X, the look of the new device is customizable through Motorola’s Moto Maker online design studio — adding new colors and materials like eco-friendly woods and new leather finishes.

You can now create your own launch phrase as well, ranging from a simple “Hello, Moto X” to something that better suits your personality like “What’s up, Moto X?” Motorola has included a number of new Moto X features such as voice, gestures and more, thereby helping deliver a distinct Moto X user experience. These include Moto Voice, Moto Assist (changes the phone’s options based on your current activity), Moto Display (shows notifications on the display even when the display is off) and Moto Actions (three IR sensors on the front of the device enable a user to wake the device with a simple wave of the hand).

Here is a breakdown of the Moto X’s specs that enable many of its key features:

  • 5.2-inch 1080P Display
  • 2.5Ghz Snapdragon 801 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB and 32GB storage options
  • 2,300mAh battery
  • 13MP rear facing camera w/ 4k video
  • Dual LED ring Flash
  • Android 4.4 KitKat

“The new Moto X looks and feels like the premium smartphone it should,” Verge concludes.

Those looking to purchase the new flagship device can do so for only $99.99 on-contract, or $499.99 (£419.99) if you decide to get an unlocked one. Currently, it appears that the U.S. carriers will likely be AT&T and Verizon. As for availability, the Moto X will be out later this month in countries across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Jaguar XE features smart infotainment system

Jaguar recently announced the upcoming launch of its new XE InControl, which according to the carmaker, will be “equipped with a wide range of state-of-the art technologies designed to make every journey an even more enjoyable experience.” Centered around an 8-inch touchscreen, the XE InControl system provides a clear, intuitive user interface for a number of features and functions. In addition, the system features voice control using plain speech — meaning that drivers can keep their eyes on the road at all times.

“In-car technologies in this ever-more connected and fast-paced world are an integral part of your driving experience. With the all-new XE we’re introducing an entire suite of cutting-edge driver aids and entertainment systems. Designed and developed from scratch, they will ensure that every journey you take is simpler, more relaxing, safer, and effortlessly enjoyable,” explained Dr. Mike Bell, Jaguar’s Global Connected Car Director.


“Smartphones are changing the way people interact with the world around them,” Jaguar writes. “The new XE ensures that drivers stay connected.” The InControl Remote allows iOS and Android smartphone users the ability to connect to their vehicle from wherever they are and control a range of vehicle functions, including seven-day timed pre-setting of the XE’s climate control system, locking or unlocking the doors, or starting the engine.

Additionally, XE InControl enables drivers to access their smartphone’s apps via the touchscreen; in other words, the system provides users the ability to do everything from make a conference call or find a parking space to make reservations or locate the nearest gas station. The XE also functions as a Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling multiple devices to connect to the Internet, with the vehicle antenna serving as the best possible signal.


As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, there are quite a number of IoT opportunities on the automotive horizon for MCU makers like Atmel. From touch technology and rear seat entertainment to keyless entry and in-vehicle networking, a number of car manufacturers are finding new ways to embed next-gen technologies into their vehicles, as demonstrated by Jaguar’s latest system.

“The sophistication of the infotainment system is matched by the array of advanced driver assistance systems available in the new XE: the laser head-up display (HUD) is an industry-first. Projecting sharp, high-contrast color images onto the windscreen, the technology provides the driver with information such as speed and navigation instructions with maximum clarity and minimum distraction. As well as better image quality, the laser HUD is smaller and almost a third lighter than existing systems.”

For those interested in the Jaguar XE, you’ll have to wait until its world premiere on September 8th. Until then, you can get a sneak peak via the video below.

“Today’s drivers are demanding richer user experiences in the automobile, similar to smart devices in the consumer market,” Atmel Marketing Director Stephan Thaler shared at CES earlier this year. 

“This includes capactive touchscreens, curved form factors, personalized color schemes and navigation menus via touch buttons and sliders. AvantCar addresses all these requirements with an advanced user interface in the center console to include [the latest] technologies.”



Smartphone users in emerging markets want bigger screens

With the latest rumors swirling that Apple’s iPhone 6 will feature a much larger touchscreen, it is quite evident that smartphone is increasingly becoming a hub for entertainment and video content. Here at Atmel, we have been on the forefront of the touchscreen revolution and believe the future lies within the handheld touchscreen.

A new report from reputed market research firm Jana suggests that consumers in emerging markets are now also seeking out larger screens on their smartphones. The survey, which targeted 1,300 smartphone users in countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Mexico, found people craving mobile devices with 5-inch and 5.5-inch screens. The 4-inch screen of the current iPhone and other similar devices did not garner much global favor, though some that were surveyed believed that smaller screen provided more convenience.


“While the four to five inch screen segment is not considered desirable by most of our respondents, four-inch screens are still popular,” Jana wrote on its blog.

These findings come just weeks after Business Insider’s latest study, which revealed that phablets — defined as a smartphone with a screen between 5-inches and 7-inches — will surpass 1.5 billion shipments within the next five years. By 2019, the devices will soon account for 59% of total global smartphone shipments, up from an expected 35% in 2014. As a result, it is believed phablets will outnumber tablet sales three to one over the next five years. 

What factors are motivating this interest for larger phones? In many of these emerging markets, the handheld device often times serves as an all-in-one entertainment system. From watching videos and surfing the Internet to glancing at photos and playing games, a larger screen makes all of these activities more enjoyable. Others added that slow buffering speeds and weak connections hindered their efforts, but they still sought out video content on their smartphones. 

Bits & Pieces has previously explored what makes a consumer select a specific device, but these new statistics from Juno provide a clear motivation for manufacturers to produce larger screens. Customers expect to consume video content on their handhelds and larger touchscreens can enhance that experience. As the entertainment landscape becomes increasingly digitized, there is no doubt more and more individuals will continue to thirst for interactive content on their smart devices.


Ahead of the curve, Atmel recently expanded its popular maXTouch T lineup of touchscreen controllers with the mXT640TmXT336T and mXT224T. The new devices offer a comprehensive set of features, supporting next-gen mobile devices such as smartphones, phablets and mid-size tablets with touchscreens ranging from 3.2”-8.3.” With 640 nodes, the mXT64xT series of devices are the world’s most comprehensive capacitive touchscreen controllers designed for next-generation smartphones.

8 things to know this morning

Good morning, folks! If yesterday was a busy day in the office, here are a couple of tidbits of news you may have missed.

1. The Internet of Things is the hackers’ new playground. HP found 25 vulnerabilities per device including everything from TVs to thermostats to home alarms and scales.

2. The Internet of Things will thrive on energy efficiency. Among the IoT’s most important functions will be to help individuals, communities and cities become smarter energy consumers.

3. GizmoChina tears down the newly-unveiled Xiaomi Mi4. After opening up the device, the flagship smartphone is powered by Atmel’s maXTouch mXT641T controller.


4. TouchPico turns any wall into a touchscreen. The tiny handheld projector that when combined with an infrared stylus turns any surface into a giant interactive touchscreen.

5. Car owners will demand connected features in their next vehicle, study finds. Over 75% of U.S. vehicle owners with at least one connected car feature indicate these services will influence their next vehicle purchase, and over 50% rated connected services as “very important” in guiding their new vehicle purchase.


6. Smart seatbelts with embedded sensors alert drowsy drivers.Created by the Biomechanics Institute (IBV), the Heart and Respiration In-Car Embedded Non-Intrusive Sensors system works by measuring the heart rate and respiratory pace of a driver.

7. Amazon now selling customizable, 3D-printed products. Amazon announced Monday that customers will now have the ability to design their very own personalized 3D-printed products, including toys, earrings, and decorative vases.

8. Half of Americans are interested in wireless LED lighting. ON World’s recently completed survey with 1,000 U.S. consumers found that nearly half are willing to pay $10 or more for a smart wireless LED light bulb.