Tag Archives: Trondheim

Billions of chips, unlimited possibilities

Vegard Wollan reveals that there are now more AVR chips in the wild as there are people in the world. (Note: A loose translation from Adressa’s recent article.)

Though the slogan “Enabling Unlimited Possibilities” may not be the most modest as they come, why should it have to be? Especially when your company, whose heritage has ties to Trondheim, is at the forefront of the incredibly popular and ever-evolving IoT innovation battle.


Vegard Wollan, AVR co-founder and VP of Atmel’s Touch Business Unit, had the chance to catch up with local Trondheim newspaper Adressa to discuss some of his team’s latest developments. One in particular, the maXTouch family of touchscreen controllers provides unprecedented hover and proximity capabilities, where a user no longer is required to touch the display, but instead triggers different functions by simply holding their finger right above it.

Just the other night, several Atmel employees in Trondheim came together to celebrate not only their commitment to the local community but an impressive milestone, namely 7,338,088,583 AVR chips. To put that figure into perspective, that is at least one MCU for each person on Earth.


“It’s insane! We have the increasing ability to top what we’ve done previously,” Wollan says. “We have been doing this for 20 years and have never had such high production as we do now. In 1999, we thought it was giant milestone to pass 10 million. Now, we have produced 7.3 billion and create about one billion units a year.”

The figure is almost as impressive as the customer list of “little” Atmel Norway, and its tight-knit team of just under 200 employees. Wollan highlights a few of the top tier brands powered by the stalwart microcontrollers, which include some of the largest and most recognizable names out there today. Among those are Google, Microsoft, Bosch, Sony, Samsung, LG, General Motors, Ford, Jaguar and Tesla.


“And this is just an excerpt. When we started the company in 1995, we dreamed about getting some big customers such as LG or Sony or Mercedes or what not. And now we have this list! So it’s really what we are celebrating and we are madly proud of,” Wollan adds.

Another focus as of late has been on China, and the next generation of gizmos and gadgets coming out the country where Atmel has played an integral role in their development, most notably ZTE and Xiaomi. While both of these manufacturers may not be the most globally known brands (yet), they have contributed millions of smartphones to the consumer market — many of which based on Atmel solutions.


“Our customers in China have now launching new phones with new technology from us. We have developed a whole new edge-free design for smartphones, so you get the larger screen without the phone being bigger. The screen goes absolutely to the edge with virtual edge buttons without the buttons here. You hold such phone as a camera and phone camera turns on. And pressing your index finger on the top right hand side on, and you take a picture,” Wollan explains.

One of the coolest projects worth mentioning is a recent collaboration with global music sensation, Coldplay, who commissioned the help of the Trondheim team. Wollan goes on to laughingly reveal, “It’s a little funny that one of our engineers have been in the practice room with Coldplay to test our technology.”

Through wireless connectivity, Coldplay has been able to transform its sold-out crowds into brilliant canvas of colorful LEDs, all while providing greater engagement amongst its fans. As concertgoers enter the arena, they are given a flashing bracelet that can be remotely controlled from any PC and pulse to the rhythm of the band’s music.


“You had to see the whole place light up in flashing, multi-colored bracelets. When we saw it from the stage, we could not believe we had managed to achieve this. It is about everyone, not just about the band and the fanatical folks at the stage, but all of us become part of the show by having a small armband.”

Wollan shares that Atmel is continuing to develop its initiative with Coldplay, but cannot go into more detail at this time. During the celebration of the company’s achievement the other night, employees were even given a chance to experience the wireless wearable devices as they waved their arms to the beat of some tunes.

Intrigued? You can tune-in to the entire segment here!

Greetings from Trondheim (home of AVR)

Trondheim, home of AVR architecture, is checking into the Maker Movement! This summer there is a lot going on; a few Makerspaces are popping up, a new coworking space and in August Trondheim hosts its first Maker Faire. Although Trondheim hosted a mini Maker Faire at the Pstereo festival last year, we are going for the real deal in 2014 with a featured Maker Faire.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Trondheim is now in company with cities like Tokyo, Senzchen, Kansas, Paris and a few other cities around the world. There is one primary difference between Trondheim and most of the other cities – population. With only 180,000 people living in the city, there is no doubt that Trondheim is the smallest city among the featured faires. Although Trondheim is the smallest city, it is home to a compact and vital community of Makers, hackers and techheads. With almost 40,000 students in the city, a significant number of tech businesses, a well-established creative community and a long cultural history, it all adds up to be a great place for innovation and Making.

In fact, as you are reading this article, there is a group of people transforming an old 1500 square feet basement into a Makerspace. Ragnar Ranøyen Homb, one of the initiators behind this Makerspace and Norwegian Creations, a maker community, describes Trondheim the following way:

“Trondheim is a rather small city if we look at population. So when we combine the population with all the Maker Movement initiatives going on, we get a rather high concentration of awesome stuff!

“The resurgence of this new culture is, among other things, an important catalyst for ‘the open source generation.’ One of this generation’s strongest characteristics is the high amount of knowledge originating from looking into the designs of different open source projects. And it’s not only the hardware creators that take part of this. As we can see in Trondheim now, a new breed of entrepreneurs is also emerging.”


Hackheim, an established hacker space, is currently moving from its old location into new and improved facilities this summer. At NTNU university, a group of students are turning a number of current workshops into what they describe as an “open arena for innovation.”

Alf Egil Bogen, co-inventor of the AVR-microcontroller, did see a need for a stronger culture and community working for innovation and entrepreneurship in Trondheim. In September 2013 Trondheim Makers was established. The organization is working with the schools and initiatives that already exist, in addition to their own events and projects; Maker Faire Trondheim is the first big event held by Trondheim Makers.

So there are definitely some things going around in the tech capital of Norway right now. If you are interested in reading more  about the Maker Movement in Trondheim, please check the links listed below. Some of them are currently only in Norwegian, but as projects receive more and more attention outside Norway, new dual language websites are going live at a rapid pace:




Infographic: Atmel’s secret maker sauce – AVR

Maker Faire Rome and World Maker Faire New York may be behind us, but Atmel is by no means finished making a big deal of the Maker Movement this year!

In fact, milling around with the most passionate (oddly dressed) people on the planet only ever serves to galvanize us to put that extra dash of passion into everything we do; into every chip and kit we produce. That’s because somewhere out there is a Maker who will take our kits or chips and build a 3D printer with them, or a nippy little vision sensor robot, or even a smart toilet (yes, seriously)!

It’s always easy to appreciate a finished product, of course. But us Atmelians know that it’s the components that allow people’s designs to really shine… much as a first class meal is only as good as the ingredients used.

Our secret ingredient, of course, is AVR; the little chip that can do big things and create infinite possibilities.

Atmel_August Auto_Final

(Click image to enlarge)

AVR was one of the first microcontrollers to use on-chip flash memory for program storage, pushing the envelope early on. Starting out as a PhD project in Trondheim, Norway, the technology has come a long way, both literally and figuratively!

Available in the tiniest of packages (the ATtiny20 is so small it can almost fit inside the ball of a ballpoint pen) and so low-power it makes Sleeping Beauty look like a fitness instructor, AVR has wowed makers from the get-go.

That’s why AVR was the first choice chip for Maker favorite Arduino. It’s now estimated that around one million Arduinos have been sold to date, and within the next 5 to 10 years, the Arduino will be used in every school to teach electronics and physical computing.

Not to mention how many quadcopters and crazy looking drones AVR powers. Ex Wired Editor, Chris Anderson, estimates that the DIY Drone community currently boasts over 15,000 drones, compared to just 7,000 “professional” drones in use worldwide by military forces. Power to the people, so to speak!

Is it any surprise Atmel almost bursts with pride whenever we find a new AVR project to tout? We’ve even created our own award for Makers with the most creative AVR vision (you’re free to submit your own projects, check out others or just vote for your favorites until the end of December!)

We hope you enjoy some of the fun facts we’ve dug up for our Maker AVR infographic even half as much as we enjoyed making it! Keep creating, folks!