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Aside from the pocket protector, a wristwatch is a staple for any true geek — and we're not talking about just be any ordinary wrist-adorned device, it has to be a bit different. In fact, the dorkier, the better. So whether it’s a businessman, an athlete or an engineer, anyone looking to show off their geekery will surely love the latest creation from Terminus Electronics: a wearable that displays time using LEDs rather than the typical pair of rotating hands or digits.

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Dubbed DECKO, the half-dollar-sized watch reveals the time by animating 60 LEDs on a circuit board face. Admittedly, it is as basic of a “smartwatch” as they come with only a few features like motion and tap detection for wake-up, and light sensing for auto-brightness. Unlike most of its teched-out counterparts, however, the device boasts a low profile and can last for six to 12 months on a single coin-cell battery.

In order to tell time, the hour winds from 12 o’clock around to the current hour, while the minute “hand” animates in place after the hour hand stops. This allows both the hour and minute to be distinguishable even when they overlap.

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The low-power timepiece sleeps to save power when not in use, and to wake up, employs an integrated motion sensor that detects when a user moves it into a horizontal viewing orientation. The watch can also be turned on and off by double-tapping the side of its case.

Meanwhile, time set mode is accessed by tapping the watch four times. The minute hand rolls like a marble to the lowest edge of the watch and time can be rolled backward and forward by simply rotating the gadget. Bringing the watch back to level for a few seconds locks in the new time. After a brief animation, a subsequent tap is required to confirm the changes.

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An interesting feature of the DECKO is that it not only shows the time but how its embedded electronics work. Based on an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 MCU (which could be found the center of the face), the watch packs a 32 kHz crystal oscillator to keep time, an accelerometer to detect position and movement, and a light sensor to measure ambient light. The electronics are soldered to the board and housed inside a rugged metal case that is available in aluminum (black or silver) and brass. What’s more, the wearable is water-resistant.

Designed to suit one’s individuality, the customizable case fits standard 18mm NATO and ZULU straps, enabling users to mix and match various styles. In addition, DECKO is available in a case-less edition which lets Makers design their own enclosure for the inner PCB face.

Look like a watch you’d love to have? Head over to DECKO’s Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking $60,000. The first batch of devices is slated to begin shipping in November 2015.

jensbauer

Recommended movie

Posted by jensbauer Jul 1, 2015

This movie is based upon a true story.

As it relates very much to Do-It-Yourself, creating things in alternative ways, plus being realistic and down-to-earth, I highly recommend anyone here to see it.

The movie is called Spare Parts.

I admit that I learned a few things from watching this myself, and maybe you will too.

A lot of interesting Embedded products came out of the Freescale Technology Forum last week in Austin and here's a nice write up from Andy Frame   Freescale Technology Forum 2015: Bigger and better than ever. Andy Frame caught ARM FAE Ronan Synnott doing a cool demo of DS5 for i.MX, Rich Nass reports on a very small single chip module Freescale claims to offer the world’s smallest integrated smart system for the IoT and ARM Austin based FAE Drew Barbier wrote up his take from the show Freescale Technology Forum 2015 - ARM Everywhere.

 

The world of live events and conferences in electronics has slowly shifted towards company owned versions including ARM TechCon but sadly with Freescale being acquired by NXP this could be the last ever FTF. 

 

Also on the hardware front last week we saw a new DSP and ARM combination chip launched by Analog Devices. Click on the image for more details.  The DSP market is heating up as new ARM cores like the Atmel Cortex-M7 based MCU can become a very inexpensive DSP (check out the SAMV71 board) and challenge traditional DSPs like the ADI SHARC.

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Audio processing is going through a renaissance as devices like the Amazon Echo are becoming available which is listening for voice commands and requests.  I have an Echo and am very impressed with the audio capabilities from its 7 microphones and its speed.

 

We have heard a lot about the Beagleboard/Beaglebone recently and noticed that a company in Germany is launching a very small professional version called the BeagleCore on Kickstarter, its priced at 39 Euros and the Kickstarter ends in early August so go and check it out:

Beaglecore.jpg

 

Last but not least I am recommending a podcast for you to listen to.  Recently I find myself listening to more podcasts as I walk the dog, commute and generally relax.  Podcasts have filled the places where I might usually listen to the radio which was always fun but a little too random and I now have a list of favorites and 99% Invisible is near the top of my list.

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99% Invisible is a podcast about design and how it changes everything around us and occasionally they drift into the world of electronics and embedded systems with amazing insights.  The episode I am recommending is all about the Air France Airbus that crashed in the Atlantic ocean flying from Brazil to Paris and why extremely complex fly by wire systems can go wrong.  The episode is called "The Children of Magenta" and if you are interested in avionics and embedded systems then it's really a must listen.

Last week, Freescale Semiconductor introduced what it claims is the world’s smallest single-chip module (SCM) for the Internet of Things (IoT). As the IoT requires more processing horsepower to be packed into ever smaller spaces, Freescale’s SCM line can integrate an array of components, including processors, memory, power management, and RF parts, all into a 17 by 14 by 1.7-mm package. Previously, such functionality would typically require a larger board.

 

The i.MX 6Dual SCM is enabled for DDR memory and combines Freescale’s i.MX 6Dual applications processor with a power management IC, flash memory, embedded software/firmware, and system-level security technology including random number generation, cryptographic cipher engines and tamper prevention. The company claims that the SCM will result in a faster time to market, as development time is reduced by having all the components already connected.

 

FS SCM.png

 

Applications that could benefit from the architecture include 3D gaming goggles, where battery life and power are important; next-generation IoT drones requiring extreme processing performance for object recognition; and other IoT products, where highly advanced graphics and user interfaces are considered key to more mainstream adoption. Other potential markets include wearables, next-generation medical equipment, and autonomous sensing applications.

 

Software support includes stacks for Linux and Android. The i.MX 6Dual SCM should be available in August, with additional SCM products coming shortly.

Ok, to be fair, I was involved in this breakfast event session at DAC, which also included excellent ARM, TSMC and Synopsys presentations. But, honestly, I found the presentation by MediaTek's Denny Liu (Deputy GM, Corporate R&D Design Technology) to be one of the best at DAC. In about 15 minutes, Denny was able to explain how MediaTek was able to solve an incredibly complex design challenge, creating  and implementing a new Tri-Cluster processor SoC architecture:

  1. A high-performance cluster
  2. A super power-efficient cluster, and
  3. A middle-performance/efficiency cluster - that "just right" ("Goldilocks") combination that would meet the needs of real mobile device users.

 

Especially important to their work was the ability to analyze real and anticipated mobile device usage patterns on models of the potential target architectures, looking for the optimal combination of processing and power efficiency. Denny joked about one application in particular, "Beauty Plus," that was measured in emulation to be taking almost 1/2 watt of power in MediaTek's original two-cluster processor configuration. I know that we all want to look good in our selfies, but who knew it take that much computation?

BeautyPlus.jpgBy creating a hybrid prototype combining Synopsys Virtualizer VDKs, ARM Fast Models and Synopsys ZeBu emulation, MediaTek were able to run simulations at 6MHz and test out those different processor cluster combinations, looking at detail into the performance and power consumption.

ZeBu.pngWith the ability to run real application software and OS together with real usage patterns, MediaTek were able to identify that the most common apps fall into one of three buckets of required performance, and hence their Tri-Cluster architecture was born. Again, being able to run those real usage patterns on different processor configurations in that Tri-Cluster arrangement (and being able to quickly use IC Compiler II to create implementations to estimate the power consumption), allowed MediaTek to settle their Tri-Cluster design

  1. A dual-core ARM Cortex-A72 for high performance computation
  2. A quad-core Cortex-A53 optimized for power efficiency, and
  3. Another quad-core Cortex-A53 optimized for medium performance and power efficiency.

 

In the end, MediaTek were able to demonstrate an average 30% power savings by adding this new middle-performance/power-efficient quad-core cluster! And, importantly, they were able to reduce the power consumption of the Beauty Plus app by 23%...

 

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Luke Collins was at the event and did a good  writeup on it: "Mediatek extends big:LITTLE strategy with 'tri-cluster' CPU."

 

We did create a video of the event, and that should be available shortly for those of you who weren't able to attend (we are so sorry that we so many who wanted to attend that we had to turn some people away at the door!). Stay tuned...

 

Hope you all had a great DAC - I'd enjoy hearing about your favorite sessions as well!

Software Update for the Inforce 6540™ Single Board Computer (powered by the ARMv7 ISA compatible Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 805/APQ8084 processor)


Inforce_6540_angle_labelAndroid Lollipop

A full-featured Android Board Support Package (BSP) running Lollipop 5.0.2 on the Inforce 6540 SBC is available for download from Inforce Computing's TechWeb for registered users. This is a significant enhancement in software support for Qualcomm Snapdragon processor based embedded designs from Inforce.

Software Platform Version
The following software platforms are supported in this release:

  • Linux Kernel Version 3.10.40
  • Android Lollipop Version 5.0.2

 

Continue reading Full-featured Android Lollipop (5.0.2) BSP Now Available for the Inforce 6540 SBC

Vasu Madabushi
Inforce Computing

With each week seemingly bringing news of another data breach, it’s no wonder a vast majority of people are gripped by anxiety. Fortunately, one Clearwater, Florida startup has developed a new way to put that uneasiness to rest, by ensuring that their most sensitive information is protected from malicious hacking, phishing, snooping, mining and any other form of cyber crimes. Vir-Sec’s solution? The aptly named SecureAxcess.

 

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The company has created and patented what they are billing as “the world’s first, and only, method of secure communication.” Designed with speed and simplicity in mind, a user plugs the flash drive-like token into the USB port of any computer, enters their password and launches a “browser-less” platform called SecureCommuniquea closed messaging, file transfer and chat application that operates inside of SecureAxcess. This limited distribution tool enables users to send emails and documents, as well as engage in other forms of communication in a secure environment, without the threat of intruders. What’s more, the individual’s data and login page cannot be accessed by anyone other than them, and their token.

“It has the look and feel of a browser, but it’s not one! Browsers are bad for accessing secure data. Most major vulnerabilities and methods of attack come from browsers. Eliminating the browser eliminates that threat,” its creator Chris Murphy explains. “The IP address is constantly shifting and is unique to your token so hackers can’t find where to try and break in. It’s like your front door keeps moving around and you can only find it if you have the correct key.”

SecureAxcess also promises true two-factor authentication, requiring both something physical (their token) and something a user knows (their password) in order to access the confidential data.

“When you physically go to the bank, do you just give a name and password to withdraw cash? Of course not, but then why have we allowed it to be so online? Our token acts like you online, physically showing you are who you say while accessing important data,” Murphy adds.

Steal2

Another nice feature is that the program runs entirely from RAM on the token itself, not the computer. Reason being, hackers can compromise browsers and other installed software quite easily. As for its hardware, the pocket-sized device is based on an Atmel | SMART SAMA5 Cortex-A5 MPU and boasts built-in cryptographic security (AES).

“The best way to secure data is to allow authentication to happen at a secure, off-site location, free from software and browsers. Also you can’t open the token and access the parts. The token is a solid fused piece of plastic that cannot be opened without destroying the data.”

Looking for a peace of mind when it comes to safeguarding your online information? Head over to SecureAxcess’ official Kickstarter page, where Vir-Sec is currently seeking $250,000.

This blog originally appeared on Atmel Bits & Pieces.

I have another article published over at embedded.com. This time I am looking at an interesting adaptation of technology, where investment in one context is yielding benefits in another. It can be a significant overhead adding a user interface to a deeply embedded system, but there is an interesting option which is worth investigating …


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To read the rest of this entry, visit the Colin Walls blog via Mentor Embedded.

It's been about six months since I took over the Product Management responsibility for the ARM Development Studio suite of tools and today I'm at FTF2015 ,at the 10th anniversary of this event ( Freescale Technology Forum) in Austin (the home town of Freescale) on the final stop of a couple of months of visiting ARM Partners, mutual customers, and ARM tools distributors.

 

ARM has been attending FTF for a good few years now and it's great to see an ever expanding range of products and technology from Freescale that include ARM processors and other associated ARM IP, all the way from Cortex-M powered sensors and MCU's up to the latest generations of high end networking chips utilizing 64-bit ARMv8-A Cortex-A processors. To support all of this ARM Cortex goodness we have a booth demonstrating the DS-5 and DSTREAM tool chain and the Keil MDK-ARM tools, along with an mbed connected Kinetis-based ARM powered coffee machine.

 

The event started yesterday with the opening of the FTF Technology Lab (where ARM and many of our mutual Connected Community ecosystem partners are demonstrating their tools and technology), and an evening of fine Texan food and the odd beer or two.

 

This morning Gregg Lowe, Freescale CEO, opened the day with a great keynote introducing a number of new product announcements, many of which were ARM-based, and a number of fascinating walk-on guests. I live tweeted from the event, check out my @andyframe_arm feed, or follow #FTF2015) for the highlights. You can see a recording of the keynote at FTF2015 Keynote: Securing the IoT|Freescale

 

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Some of the more ARM related announcements included a new member the i.MX family, a broadening of the Kinetis Cortex-M based families, the software friendly automotive S32K MCU based on the Cortex-M4, and new ARM-based QorIQ multicore processor solutions that 'bring ease of performance to the intelligent edge.'

 

On display on the ARM booth is one of the first members of the new i.MX 7 series, with industry’s most power efficient ARM® Cortex®-A7 GHz-class applications processor. The new devices are the i.MX 7Solo and i.MX 7Dual product families, which feature Cortex-A7 cores operating up to 1 GHz and a Cortex-M4 core operating up to 266 MHz. The Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 achieve processor core efficiency levels of 100 μW /MHz and 70 μW /MHz respectively and all of the cores can be individually power enabled to perform as needed depending the on requirements of the application. More details are available at Freescale Unveils i.MX 7 Series with Industry’s Most Power Efficient ARM® Cortex®-A7 GHz-Class Applications Processors |…

 

Check out the picture of resident ARM DS-5 guru/expert Ronan Synnott about to be filmed for the Freescale video channel.

 

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At the booth Ronan was demonstrating ARM DS-5 Development Studio, an end-to-end suite of tools for embedded C/C++ software development on any ARM processor. Working closely with Freescale, the tools can support the latest i.MX6SX and QorIQ LS1 devices out of the box, for debug, and trace of the Cortex-A9 and Cortex-M4 and Cortex-A7 CPUs present in the devices, as well as Streamline profiling of Linux/Android running on the application processor. During the event we actually had a working demo on the brand new i.MX7 board.

 

Ronan also presented a session at the event titled 'Development Solutions for Advanced Freescale ARM Based Platforms' In the session Ronan described how ARM, with DS-5, provides a common toolchain supporting all of the the i.MX range of Application Processors, and the QorIQ Layerscape communications processor platforms, delivering best in class compilation, full multi-core debug support, and advanced profiling functionality.

 

Other demos at the ARM booth included an (mbed) ARM/FSL Nespresso demo based on the Freescale Freedom K64F development board, which uses a Grove connector color sensor with integrated I2C interface to ensures the demo/product can be scaled to mass production without excessive calibration and learning times. The demo was also shown in Freescale’s Smart Home kitchen with mbed & Kinetis branded coffee cups.

 

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MDK-ARM was also being demonstrated at the ARM booth. The MDK-ARM is a complete software development environment for ARM based microcontroller applications.Full support is provided out-of-the-box for all devices in the Kinetis family of low power MCUs, and whilst being easy to learn and use, it's powerful enough for the most demanding embedded applications

 

The S32K is the first automotive MCU product line designed to significantly speed and simplify software development - see the full press release here

 

The Kinetis K8x MCU family builds upon the Kinetis MCU portfolio with advanced security capabilities including boot ROM to support encrypted firmware updates, automatic decryption from external serial NOR flash memory, hardware AES acceleration built with side band attack protection, and hardware support for Public Key Cryptography.

 

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With the release of the Kinetis KW40Z there is now a 'wireless, multi-protocol addition to its popular Kinetis microcontroller (MCU) family, bringing the latest connectivity standards to an MCU platform that has played an essential role in shaping and enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) to date...The KW40Z wireless MCU integrates a 2.4 GHz multi-protocol radio that provides the ability to access one BLE network and one 802.15.4 network from a single device while achieving strong RF performance and low current consumption. The low-power radio runs in receive mode at 6.5mA with excellent co-existence characteristics, and provides years of operation on standard coin cell batteries. An integrated DC/DC converter configurable for buck or boost operation optimizes power consumption, and the MCU also incorporates a high precision DAC and a 16-bit ADC for highly accurate sensor measurement for wireless sensor networks'. See the full press release here

 

Freescale also introduced the QorIQ LS1088A octal and LS1048A quad multicore processors based on the performance-optimized and power-conscious 64-bit capable ARM Cortex-A53 core, which 'integrate Freescale’s second-generation datapath acceleration architecture (DPAA2), delivering datapath offload with software developers in mind, and providing networking engineers with the processing resources to deliver low power, flexible and cost-efficient solutions for new virtualized networks as envisioned by ARM and others.' More details can be found at Freescale makes networking more personal with new ARM-based QorIQ multicore processor solutions that bring ease of perfo…

 

Software Development Tools

ARM Processors

News

At FTF 2015 Freescale Semiconductor announced the Kinetis KW40Z , adding to the growing number of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chip sets developers can choose from.  The demand for accessories connected to smartphones has driven the influx of a broad range of BLE chip sets with varying performance levels and functionality.  A good starting point for exploring the various BLE chip sets can be found here.

Cataloging all BLE chip sets is a never ending task.  More offerings crop up every day.  Another interesting BLE device is Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52 integrating a Cortex-M4 with 512kB of Flash, enabling designs of single-chip battery-powered accessories with high computation needs (including floating point).

Sadanand Gulwadi

Teaching DSP Hands-on

Posted by Sadanand Gulwadi Jun 23, 2015

The ARM University Program (AUP) organized a two-day faculty workshop on “Teaching Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Hands-on” on May 20 and 21, 2015, at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad, India. Dr. Donald Reay of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK, delivered the workshop. As challenging as DSP can be with regard to grasping its concepts, Donald Reay's hands-on approach had the participants absorbed for a full two days trying out the various lab experiments. The material used in the workshop was only a snapshot of the full suite of teaching materials contained in AUP's Lab-in-a-Box (LiB) on DSP. The hardware used was the ARM Cortex-M4 based STM32F4-Discovery kit (serving as the DSP processor) and the Wolfson WM5102 codec, similar to the codecs in some versions of the Galaxy S4 and AQUOS smart phones. The ARM Cortex-M4 based STM32F4-Discovery kit is available for about 15 USD, well within the reach of students. Equally noteworthy is that there are a couple more Labs-in-a-Box (LiBs) from AUP that use the very same ARM Cortex-M4 based STM32F4-Discovery kit, one on Efficient Embedded Systems Design (memory-mapped I/O programming methodology) and the other on Real-time Operating System Design (RTOS), consequently enabling a university to cover a stream of three courses and associated labs efficiently with the same Discovery kit.

 

Many features of the ARM Cortex-M4 processor, starting with the DSP instructions it implements, make it the choice for DSP. The fast Multiply-Accumulate (MAC) feature, SIMD capability, saturating arithmetic instructions as well as hardware floating point unit, all pack the ARM Cortex-M4 with the computational power required for DSP applications. In particular, the combination of its Harvard architecture and single-cycle MAC feature enable efficient computation of the sums of products involved in Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filters and Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs). Finally, its energy-efficient operation makes it suitable for mobile applications, which intrinsically have a lot to do with DSP.

 

What is DSP?
Sampling
Reconstruction
DSP could be....JPGSampling.JPGReconstruction.JPG

 

Each workshop day began with an explanation of DSP concepts interspersed with demos. Spurred on by the demos, the participants would follow suit, trying out the experiments themselves. Audio signals were used for demonstrating the DSP concepts for two reasons: The easy availability of laboratory equipment capable of handling audio signals in universities across the globe and the human capacity to relate to audio signals. The first lab was about talking through the codec and getting the human voice out unchanged. The second about adding an echo to the human voice (talk-through with buffered voice). In the third, a sinewave was generated using 8 sample signal values from a look-up table in the user code, showing the possibility of generating audio signals with any desired frequency whenever required. The sinewave output of the codec in turn was very smooth, indicating the high-quality low-pass filtering capability of the Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) in the Wolfson codec. Later experiments gave a good feel for how FFTs could be effectively employed in making adaptive filters for performing noise cancellations on an audio signal such as the voice of an airline pilot amidst the aircraft engine noise in the background.

 

Ideal Low-pass Filter
More Sampling v/s Reconstruction
Codec Functionality
Ideal Low-pass Filter.JPGMore Sampling.JPGWM102 Codec Functionality.JPG

 

The pedagogy built into the experiments was aimed at bringing clarity to the understanding of DSP concepts. The software required to program the hardware too was in-keeping with the pedagogy and involved only two functions – One to initialize the codec using the I2C interface and the other, an interrupt handler, to initiate the sampling of audio signals and any required processing of the sampled signal values. Any code changes or additions required from one lab experiment to the next were thus only incremental in nature and completely resident within the interrupt handler.

 

Simple Code Structure
And so, 48 hours later...
Code - Sampling and  Instantiating ST Discovery.JPGIMG_1307.JPG

In today's roundup we have some interesting news from Renesas Electronics with a well thought out IoT platform and hot off the wire from Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) which started today in Austin, TX are some new chips including the much anticipated i.MX 7 series, some Kinetis and QorIQ parts and a new oven (scroll down for that one!).  Also I spotted a cloud platform that's worth a look.  One trend I'm noticing is that even though I'm rounding up Embedded news from what I see as Embedded companies they all talk about Internet of Things so whatever line or distinction there was between the Embedded market and the IoT has largely disappeared.

 

First up was last weeks announcement by Renesas of their Synergy IoT platform which they describe in their words as:

Renesas Synergy Software Package:

The Renesas Synergy Platform uses qualified embedded software, tested to commercial standards with ensured compatibility across all Renesas Synergy MCUs. The Renesas Synergy Software Package (SSP) includes Express Logic  X-Ware™. X-Ware includes the premier ThreadX® real time operating system (RTOS) plus X-Ware middleware NetX™ and NetX DUO™ IPV4 and IPv4/IPV6 TCP/IP stacks respectively, USBX™ USB Host/Device/OTG protocol stack, FileX® MS-DOS compatible file system and GUIX™ graphics runtime library. These are bundled in the Renesas application framework that is completely optimized for use with Renesas Synergy MCUs and compliant to the IEC/ISO/IEEE-12207 Software Life Cycle Process standard. Sold, maintained, and directly supported by Renesas, the software is guaranteed by Renesas to operate as per a published specification.

 

Renesas Synergy Microcontrollers:

Within the Renesas Synergy Platform, there is a new, scalable MCU family that spans a wide spectrum of performance, power usage, safety, security, cryptography, connectivity, and graphics capabilities. The family provides customers a variety of choices to meet their requirements for IoT designs ranging from low-end, battery-powered products to complex communication and user interface hubs.

 

Renesas Synergy Tools, Kits, Solutions:

The Renesas Synergy Platform’s Eclipse-based integrated solution development environment (ISDE) is available with C compilers from GNU and IAR Systems. Also available are Express Logic’s Windows® based GUIX™ Studio graphic user interface prototyping tool and TraceX® real-time event graphical analysis tool. Customers can begin full development with the purchase of any one of many low-cost Development or Starter Kits available for each of the Synergy MCU series. Renesas will also offer a number of Renesas Synergy Product Example kits, each one an example of an actual commercial product. Customers can leverage this information to modify the Product Examples to fit the needs of their own similar end products.

 

Renesas Synergy Gallery:

Renesas recognizes the widely varied needs of product developers in the IoT space and their desire for plug-and-play add-on software components to reduce development time. Renesas satisfies this need with the Renesas Synergy Gallery, an online selection of quality software products from third-party software vendors that augment the Renesas Synergy Software Package. Customers may browse and download Renesas Synergy Software Package-compliant software for functions and features such as specialized communication stacks, control algorithms, and security services.

 

Renesas Synergy Support:

All components of the Renesas Synergy platform are supported directly by Renesas, giving customers a single point of contact for integrated support spanning software, Renesas Synergy MCUs and hardware solutions. This unified support structure eliminates the struggle customers often encounter when trying to get hardware and software vendors to take ownership of a technical problem. Customers will not need to purchase service or maintenance contracts. Renesas warrantees the specification, provides regular feature upgrades and addresses all product questions through our global sales support organization.

 

So its an entire platform for IoT development with a couple of new microcontrollers that are Cortex-M0+ and Cortex-M4 based (as spotted by rnass in his post It's so not about the chip). Its a much better approach to design and a smart move by Renesas but there are still lingering questions (to me anyway) about security and the right cloud infrastructure and control applications needed to make it all work.  I'm sure Renesas will address this at their Renesas Devcon event in October in Southern California

 

Next up is the annual Freescale Technology Forum in Austin which kicked off today and they made the i.MX 7 series chips official with Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 cores available in several somewhat confusing combinations (i.MX 7Solo has 2 cores).  What is interesting is the big.LITTLE type combination of heterogeneous cores which I see as an important trend for the IoT in lowering power consumption. The i.MX 7 series use less power than their i.MX6 predecessors and that's a big advantage for many IoT applications.  Freescale also released a Kinetis Bluetooth Smart combination chip and new QorIQ comms chips based on the Cortex-A53 and soon Cortex-A72.

 

The fun part of today's announcements has to be the new Freescale oven technology:

Freescale_RF_Sage_open_HR.jpg

This appears to be a combination microwave and conventional oven with smart connectivity to make sure food is perfectly prepared for busy people.  Freescale partnered with frog design who are a famous design house and coincidentally are working with ARM on the Wearables for Good project alongside UNICEF.  Wonder if attendees at FTF this week will get their food prepped this way?

 

Last but not least I spotted an interesting cloud platform company called InitialState which I think is worth a look.  In our embedded hardware centric world we don't spend enough time thinking about how the IoT will really work (see my comment on the Renesas Synergy platform above).  This company is based in Nashville and some of the team seem to have come from the IBM printer spinoff that was Lexmark.  What is coll is that they say they can take get you to real time streaming cloud data from your device in 2 minutes and there is even a free version.  To me this is where the fun innovation is in the Internet of Things.  Check out their intro video:

rnass

It's so not about the chip

Posted by rnass Jun 22, 2015

Renesas made a pretty significant announcement last week, releasing a series of processors called the Synergy series. However, you had to look pretty hard to figure out which core was used in the devices. Instead, Renesas chose to focus on the other pieces of the announcement, and I believe they did the right thing, almost (I'll come back to that).

 

As most developers will tell you, the performance of most of the latest processors is so good, that the focus needs to be on the accompanying components, otherwise known as the ecosystem. And this is where Renesas really got it right. First, they bundled an operating system with the processor. In this case, it's Express Logic's ThreadX OS.

 

While many processors line themselves up with an OS to simplify the task for developers, Renesas has taken it one step further, by taking on the support burden. Hence, if you have ANY questions about how to design with the Synergy family, your first and only (in theory, at least) call needs to be to Renesas. They will support the hardware, the software, the tools, and so on. I applaud Renesas for this, although it's still to be seen whether the company is up to the task, It's one thing to provide complete support for your own products. It's something else to take that on for a third-party's products.

 

In addition to the OS, Renesas is also including all the drivers, APIs, and everything else you're likely to need to get your design out the door. Now back to that "almost" part I mentioned earlier. I found it surprising that Renesas would go so far out of its way to not tell you that it's using ARM Cortex 0+ and Cortex M4 cores in its Synergy processors. That's a key decision factor in most designs, and Renesas should be more upfront about it. I don't think they're trying to hide anything, but the goal is to accentuate the fact that they're providing the entire ecosystem. That's a fair approach, but it made me wonder why they wouldn't at least give the core choice a mention.

Currently being billed on Indiegogo as the “GoPro of microphones,” Instamic is looking to become a household name when it comes to capturing high-quality sound from anywhere on anything.

Instamic

Instamic is a tiny, standalone recorder that has its sights set on replacing conventional handheld and lavaliere microphones. With a variety of mounting options (magnet, velcro and tape) and a quick release clip, the super portable gadget can register hours of 48khz/24-bit sound in mono and dual mono mode, as well as in stereo quality with its Pro variant. A built-in, rechargeable battery allows for roughly four hours of uncompressed audio recording, with duration varying slightly depending on charge time, temperature and storage conditions. Instamic has a frequency response of 50 to 18,000 Hz.

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Given its compact design and minimal setup, Instamic is the perfect accessory for filmmakers, journalists and musicians as they will no longer need to lug around all that bulky, obtrusive equipment. Eliminating the need for cables, the wearable unit connects to its accompanying app over Bluetooth and enables users to control it remotely within a 30-foot radius, as well as simultaneously record with up to seven Instamics. What’s more, the mic features an Atmel | SMART SAM3U MCU and internal memory ranging from 2GB to 8GB.

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Turning on the pocket-sized device requires a single tap of its logo, while another touch will begin the recording. From there, Instamic will automatically adjust the gain on its own in the first 10 seconds and will ensure that it remains at the optimal level. Tap and hold again for a second and it will stop. If paired with a smartphone, Instamic can also be controlled through its app. When a user needs to transfer a recording to their desktop, its microUSB charging port doubles as the file transfer system.

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Instamic comes in two models: Pro and Go. The Pro version’s waterproof, black shell makes it a suitable instrument for indoor filming sets, darker environments and even in five feet of water. Meanwhile, the splash-resistant, white exterior of the Instamic Go can remain inconspicuous in most bright, day-lit settings.

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Intrigued? Head over to its Indiegogo page, where the Bay Area startup is currently seeking $50,000.

This blog originally appeared on Atmel Bits & Pieces.

Did you know that the average person generates over 70,000 thoughts each day? Many of which are forgotten. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there: a great idea pops into your head while in the shower, in the car or out for a jog, only to find that by the time you grab a pen and paper, that million dollar concept or simple to-do is out of mind. What if there was a device that could easily capture that thought in a matter of seconds and then automatically convert it into action?

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That’s the idea behind the latest innovation from one Calgary-based startup who has devised what they’re calling the “first wearable thought catcher.” As its slogan would imply, the MYLE TAP is a super stylish, touch-activated wearable voice recorder that instantly registers and analyzes spoken words, then sends them to one of many commonly used mobile apps. This can be everything from writing a Facebook message to a friend to jotting down an appointment in the calendar while driving or sharing a memo to a colleague in Evernote. In addition to dozens of integrated program already available, MYLE also features several applications of its own, including those that can help keep tabs on groceries, manage personal budgets, count calories and even control IoT systems. What’s more, MYLE Tap understands 42 languages.

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Based on an Atmel | SMART SAM4S MCU, the super compact and lightweight gadget is equipped with an accelerometer, a Bluetooth Low Energy module, a few LEDs and a built-in battery capable of running up to a week on a single charge. MYLE TAP boasts some impressive memory as well, with a storage capacity of up to 2,000 voice notes.

As for its software, the MYLE Tap is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, along with countless apps already installed on a majority of today’s smartphone and tablets. Beyond that, the startup’s SDK/API enables users to develop their own programs.

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So whether you’re a businessman, a stay-at-home mom, a fitness buff or a marketing guru with a constant stream of ideas, this wearable thought catcher may be for you. If so, head over to MYLE Tap’s Indiegogo campaign where the team is currently seeking $50,000. Shipment is expected to begin later this year.

This blog originally appeared on Atmel Bits & Pieces.

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