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Open Source Hardware

Adafruit's Open-source Wearable Platform, Flora 62

Posted by timothy
from the replace-all-your-clothes dept.
ptorrone writes "Limor 'Ladyada' Fried's NYC based Open-source electronics studio, Adafruit, today announced their new open wearable platform called the FLORA (blog post & video). The FLORA is Arduino compatible as well as supporting a variety of sensors and add-on devices including: Bluetooth, GPS, 3-axis accelerometer, compass module, flex sensor, piezo, IR LED, push button, embroidered + capacitive keypad, OLED and more. The first round of hardware is in the hands of testers to create wearable projects."
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Adafruit's Open-source Wearable Platform, Flora

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  • Or you mean all over the testers.. :)
    • by farrellj (563) *

      Doesn't anyone remember Verner Vinge's "Rainbows End" where everyone has "smart" clothes and retinal implants, and use body motion to control the interface?

  • Resistance is futile.
    • The question is simply whether I know the hardware on me or whether the hardware owns me.

      In a nutshell, the former is truer for this one than any cellphone I know.

    • by dak664 (1992350)

      TFA says no "headers of any kind sticking out can grab and tear fabric" but also says it has USB support.
      So how do you dock? Do the headers stick in?

      • by Fwipp (1473271)

        From the picture in the article, it's pretty clear that it's got standard-looking ports for USB and power.

  • by wiedzmin (1269816) on Friday January 20, 2012 @08:08PM (#38769728)
    Or you could just buy a Raspberry Pi and a glue gun :)
  • Why Atmel? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Timmmm (636430) on Friday January 20, 2012 @08:38PM (#38770104)

    Seems like a strange decision to use an Atmel chip when everyone is moving to Cortex M-3.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ZeroLogic (11697)

      Because it is Arduino compatible. Arduinos are all Atmel chips. ARM is way more complicated than people need for these sorts of projects.

      • by Timmmm (636430)

        ARM is no more complicated than Atmel... To be honest I think it is easier...

        • by Seakip18 (1106315)

          With the Arduino, I can get a LCD + DS18S20 up and running in 20 minutes from unwrapping to code compiled and measuring temps. Part of it may just be where I'm at on the learning curve or maybe it is that easy.

          Can you do this on the ARM platform? Not intending to troll, I'm flat out curious about the libraries and ease of use.

        • Re:Why Atmel? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ThePeices (635180) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:04PM (#38771280)

          He is not talking about how easy it is to program on an ARM toolset vs Atmel, hes talking about the complexity of the processor itself.

          The Atmel AVR is an 8-bit microcontroller, the ARM Cortex-M is a 16/32 bit device, with far more transistors than an ATMEGA.

          For the sort of thing that Adafruit are needing to do, an ATMEGA is more than adequate.

      • by makomk (752139)

        I'm pretty sure that Arduino has ARM support now, actually, and some of the ARM chips aren't any more expensive than the higher-end USB AVRs these days.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Simple, the tool chain for most ARM chips is proprietary and hard to work with, any idiot can program an arduino. I have both an arduino and an stm discovery board with a cortex m4, and I have found the arduino to be a ton more useful. I can write a functional program for arduino in a fraction of the time it takes me to get a program to even compile and run on the m4. Sure that says more about my abilities than the boards, but the point of an arduino is that anyone can do it.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      ARM devices tend to be more limited than AVRs, for example being 3.3V only and available only in surface mount packages that are difficult to solder. Everything about the AVR and the Arduino platform is designed to be easy and versatile, and performance is rarely an issue.

      Even today far more 8 bit cores are being shipping them ARM or any 16 bit+ design. You just can't beat them for being cheap, low power, having lots of peripherals and coming in every flavour imaginable. I write code for them for a living a

    • The Atmega platform has a few key advantages over the Cortex, at least in this context. Yes, Cortex is heaps more powerful, as it should be, being heaps more modern.

      1. Price. 8bit Atmegas start around 1-3 bucks, and depending on your project, they will probably already have enough ability for what you want to do. I, at least, didn't encounter more than a handful projects so far that I couldn't sensibly implement using dirt cheap ATMegas.

      2. Ease of use. AVR assembler is, despite being ASM, very easy yet a lo

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday January 20, 2012 @08:48PM (#38770236)

    They've been hammering at this for years, and we have yet to see anything more than a jacket with buttons for your MP3 player enter the market.

    What's the obsession?

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      outside of adafruit and instructables adding blinky things .... um ... there are a couple goofy overpriced shirts on think geek

    • I do. I still dream of a fully integrated computer in my clothing that offers visual output in a HMD. The advantages are quite numerous, it's just that I'm not the majority so a mass produced item is unlikely to enter the market any time soon.

      Think of all the things your cellphone can do today, now imagine you could do them without having your hands tied up with fiddling with it. I could easily see a few very interesting applications for it, and it's not blinking lights or flashy gimmicks on your clothing.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:09PM (#38770494) Homepage

    This is your first step towards becoming an aug. Soon you'll be forced to save the human race from the very man who inveted this technology (and eat a lot of candy bars along the way.)

  • Cool... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wbr1 (2538558)
    I love anything that Limor Fried does. This may sound creepy, but she is like the perfect woman. I mean Christ, she names her cat MOSFET! [flickr.com] How could you not admire that?
    • by Kozz (7764)

      I love anything that Limor Fried does. This may sound creepy, but she is like the perfect woman. I mean Christ, she names her cat MOSFET! [flickr.com] How could you not admire that?

      Well, I guess some people find it cool. On the other hand, I'm not an EE or circuit-bending guy and had to look it up. So I wasn't terribly impressed by that. The rest of her entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is plenty to admire of anyone. As for the "perfect woman"... to each his own. I googled some photos, and she's not the first person I'd notice from the other side of the room.

      • I love anything that Limor Fried does. This may sound creepy, but she is like the perfect woman. I mean Christ, she names her cat MOSFET! [flickr.com] How could you not admire that?

        Well, I guess some people find it cool. On the other hand, I'm not an EE or circuit-bending guy and had to look it up. So I wasn't terribly impressed by that. The rest of her entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is plenty to admire of anyone. As for the "perfect woman"... to each his own. I googled some photos, and she's not the first person I'd notice from the other side of the room.

        I'd hack it...

  • by viking80 (697716) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:14PM (#38771004) Journal

    I will qualify this. If you are a programmer used to an IDE, Arduino sucks. It wes made to allow painters, breadmakers and other artists to make embedded elements, and maybe for a non-programmer, it may be the only (and best) thing out there.

    I tried this and dropped it fast. Instead I ended up using Code Composer Studio. It works like a charm for all TI's boards. Try out the 430 development system on sale for $4.30. Great IDE with in circuit debugging and all the other features you are used to, and you are up and running in no time.

    Android is also a good choice, powerful, but a little different if you are used to C/C++ insted of Java. Not only for phones but a lot of other embedded devices as well.

    BTW, You can get used Samsung Galaxy with a new battery for $100. It is an incredible embedded device, and if you want buy an Arduino device with even a small part of the features, you will pay many times this.
    !GHz ARM, 16BG flash, dilsplay,WiFi, Cameras, Graphics engine, xyz accelerometers, maybe gyros. If you need USB master you have to get android 4.0 based device.

    • Saying that there's one solution that's clearly superior to others show a profound lack of understanding. The MSP430 LaunchPad you speak of may cost only $4.30, but there is a price --- very small amount of RAM (512 bytes) for the Valueline.

      While the Android phones are good platform if you need all the fancy hardware and touch screen, they are lousy if you have to deploy more than one or two, price-wise. On the other hand, if you need some of the features that are already available on Android (or, STM32,

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        also on the 430's dont forget current output, what is it like 6ma? thats fine for a lot of applications, but then again 40ma per pin on the avr (250 total for package) makes it easier when you need a little more than high impedence logic, without adding extra hardware

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by introcept (1381101)

      There's always the AVR GNU toolchain for programming Arduino boards in C. It comes with the (free) WinAVR IDE/Debugger and works with any IDE that can handle GCC et al.
      Personally, I can't stand the way TI have tied their products to Code Composer Studio. It's free for some of the cheaper devices but if you want to use it on anything with a bit of muscle you'll be shelling out $500+ just to be able to program/debug the hardware you own.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      hm I have TI stuff, its kind of a pain in the ass, and I get called once a month to trade in my wimpy code limited compiler for a fully featured one for a low low price (for a fucking company not a hobby guy)

      The support is terrible, and I have gone around in circles with them on more than one occasion where their examples refer to something and its just not fucking there, yea thats great spend a week on a forum with some douche to FINALLY be redirected to a extra 100 megs of software they didnt include nor

    • by makomk (752139)

      TI's stuff is annoyingly non-compatible with anything except Windows and the development tools are also all crippled versions of really expensive commercial, proprietary ones.

      Also, since Arduino boards use gcc and work with standard open-source firmware upload software like avrdude, you don't actually have to use the Arduino software. You can develop code for them using makefiles and the command line just fine. There's even a version of the Arduino standard libraries that you can incorporate into your proje

    • by pinkeen (1804300)

      I will qualify this. If you are a programmer used to an IDE, Arduino sucks. It wes made to allow painters, breadmakers and other artists to make embedded elements, and maybe for a non-programmer, it may be the only (and best) thing out there.

      You can use any IDE/editor out there to write c/c++ code, compile it with avr-gcc and upload it to the arduino-compatible board. It's as closest to the metal as it gets. No need to use the arduino style loop() or its libraries.

      Arduino IDE is nothing more than a lousy editor, couple of C++ libraries and a simple source preprocessor.

    • by clifwlkr (614327)
      Or, you can ditch the Arduino IDE entirely, and utilize eclipse. There are a few tutorials out there showing how to do this. This gives you everything standard eclipse C/C++ development has, plus the ability to right click and deploy to the arduino with AVRDude. I actually compile the arduino libraries as a seperate project, and only use them if I want something they offer for the project. The arduinos themselves do not require the use of these libraries. I am developing a project where I currently am
  • gee, i wonder where they got the idea? http://www.sparkfun.com/categories/135 [sparkfun.com]

    • You obviously didn't RTFM or blog because she mentioned that LilyPad preceded her Flora design. FYI, the Flora design is different than the LilyPad so who cares if LilyPad came first if Flora has the features you'd want?

      LoB
      • by tibman (623933)

        But it really just looks like an updated lilypad and not a new product. Which is allowed, of course, because the lilypad is open. But "designed from scratch" and then being based on the lilypad is sending mixed messages.

        • by Locutus (9039)
          not a mixed message really because when you take something as simple as the Arduino and decide to make it into a "wearable" platform, you're going to come up with things similar to someone else with a similar goal. And having followed Lady Ada for a while, I would trust her to do her best to think about the solution without lots of influence from previous products. ie the solution based on the goal and not just ways to extend someone elses product.

          None of that stuff is really technical and just marketing fl
  • by ChrisMP1 (1130781) on Saturday January 21, 2012 @11:08AM (#38773912)

    Everyone is just bitching about how much better their favorite chip is than AVR. This isn't even an article about that. Save it for an article about different microcontrollers.

    As for the "WTF would I do with a 'wearable platform'" questions - what happened to all the hackers on Slashdot? You know, the people who were actually interesting? Jesus, I don't know what you'd do with it. I don't know what I would do with it, to be honest, but whatever happened to that inventive spirit? Just because you can't think of anything doesn't mean it's useless.

    Now allow me a minute of hypocrisy to discuss why I like AVR. When I want to prototype a microcontroller-based device, I don't need some $55 "Maple" device, or even an Arduino. I bought a tube of five ATmega328s from eBay for $7. I toss one on a breadboard with a 16 MHz crystal, a couple of capacitors and a pullup resistor for the reset pin and wire it up to a 5V power supply. When I make the final circuit, I throw a DIP socket on the board, and into that socket goes the programmed chip. Again, with just a crystal, two capacitors and a resistor (maybe with a decoupling cap, depending on the rest of the circuit). Total cost? Maybe $5.

    No need to even use the Arduino "IDE" or anything else, if you don't want to. And why would you? It's crap, anyway. I edit the file in vim, and generally stay away from their slow helper functions like digitalWrite() in favor of direct register access. But sometimes, it's nice to throw an Arduino library in the project. They might not be fast, but hey, you're using a 16 MHz microcontroller! It's really easy to just #include and be ready to use an LCD.

    • Any reason why you couldn't replace your ATmega with something like this Cortex M0 [nxp.com] and have the same cheap DIP setup? With codesourcery lite [mentor.com] you also have a compatible gcc version for free

      Also did you benchmark the digitalWrite function? I don't really see any reason why digitalwrite won't compile to direct register access.

      • by ChrisMP1 (1130781)

        Any reason why you couldn't replace your ATmega with something like this Cortex M0 and have the same cheap DIP setup?

        Actually, no. That's the first time I've seen a nice DIP ARM chip, and I'll have to look into it. Thank you! But I'm still not going to do that immediately, since I still have a bunch of AVRs sitting around, and quite a bit of time invested in learning the ins and outs of programming them. I also suspect that chip is a good bit more expensive than a simple ATmega, though I haven't actually looked, so I could be dead wrong.

        Also did you benchmark the digitalWrite function?

        No proper benchmarking, but in my experience it is much slower. I did read the source

    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      what happened to all the hackers on Slashdot? You know, the people who were actually interesting?

      They are busy designing their own circuits on FPGAs, instead of programming other people's designs.

      • by ChrisMP1 (1130781)

        So, in your opinion, is there no intersection between "hackers" and "computer programmers"? Because I'm pretty sure there is one, and it's quite large.

        • by TeknoHog (164938)
          Of course there is. This is just something from a personal experience, something that has made life interesting again. I also think that FPGA design has improved my understanding of programming, for example because it forces you to think about parallelism much more. The low-level aspects of doing more with less logic are also intriguing.

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