Intel’s new button-sized system-on-a-chip, Curie, will be incorporated into a next-generation Arduino board called the Arduino 101, making it the first device to ship with a Curie module. The company made the announcement at Maker Faire Rome.

What makes the Curie so special?

Arduino_Packaging.0

The tiny, low-power chip is designed for wearables and other low-power connected devices. The chip features Bluetooth LE so you can connect to a smartphone. It has a low-power sensor hub, a pattern-matching accelerator for gesture recognition, and a six-axis accelerometer with a gyroscope.

All of this fits on a chip the size of a button. Curie runs the open-sourced software Viper, which uses gathered information for analysis of such things as step tracking and movement.

Adding Curie to Arduino unlocks a lot of potential in the DIY tech market. The Italian board maker will be bundling the newly named Arduino 101 with an electronics and coding course designed for kids. While Arduino projects generally focus on Internet of Things, adding Curie opens up the fast-growing wearable industry to tech tinkerers.

Arduino 101 will be available in the first quarter of 2016 for $30.

via The Verge

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24 replies on “New Arduino board has Intel Curie inside”

  1. It’s kind of odd though because the Currie seems geared toward wearables and the like. But now it is stuck in a larger board here. So….
    I can’t quite think what I’d do with it. My only idea is to make a huge knocker for a door which unlocks the door if you use a secret knock pattern.

    1. Not really odd, you’re not going to work with something too small in a DIY kit… Like a prototyping/development board, you start big and only when you finalize a design do you shrink it… Besides, this is targeting the education market… Like plugable electronics, etc… It’s meant to be easy to use, not super tiny that you need special tools to do anything with it…

      Besides, like previous Arduino products there’s probably a lot more than a door knocker lock you could apply it to… and this does have a trick or two above the previous Arduino products, like you can use the BT to control a project from your phone, etc.

      Though, it is possible they could shrink the board later if there’s enough demand or a different but similar product could come out later… This was just the first to market…

  2. Most BLE single IC solutions already have a 32bit ARM cpu on them. TI, Nordic, and Dialog all have dramatically lower power consumption in all modes of operation compared to currie. Intel does not have a fab process that does ultra low power. Currie is about advertising the Intel brand in a different space. It is not a viable component in a mass produced product.

    1. Yeah, being able to work for long periods at a time on a button cell watch battery is such a power hog…

      You do know there comes a point where the criticism gets ridiculous for any real practical purposes?

      Would it be nice to have a device that can last for years on a single tiny battery, sure… but we live in a world were most mobile devices still struggle to provide all day usage on a single charge and anything that can provide days of usage or longer will already be considered good enough…

      Besides, it looks like Curie is going to be mass produced… as it’s also going into other products, for example, an experimental US clothing studio Chromat is producing a Aero sports bra and 3D printed dress that both use the Curie chip… among other examples that are only starting to be reported on… Some are just waiting on final FCC authorization that the Curie chip is still going through, but they wouldn’t bother with that if this product wasn’t going to be mass produced…

      Besides, it’ll be more relevant to point out it’s actual limitations like lacking a application processor… So a wearable like a Galaxy Watch, Apple Watch, etc is out but a Fitbit, even the MS band watch, etc is doable… So it can have a niche in the wearable market, just not a very large one…

      1. The whole point of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology is to enable products that last several months to years on a small battery. If you don’t need extra long battery life then regular Bluetooth is fine.

        1. Sure, but regular BT still won’t behave exactly like BLE and if you’re developing a prototype then you’ll still need something that will behave the same to make sure it’ll work the same.

          Besides, you could easily create a project that can last for months on this… The SoC only uses about 1/10th the power of a mobile ATOM and can work with watch size button cell batteries… You just don’t need to do that when working on a experimental board that’s made for tinkering, experimenting, learning, etc. and thus this does not need to reflect what the Curie chip can do by itself…

          Let’s also remember this is a multi-purpose device that can be used for a fairly wide range of projects and not single use dedicated components that only has a set usage. It’s not just a matter of BT but a fairly good range of sensors, etc.

          While development boards, etc always cost more than a single purpose mass produced product… First they’re produced in relatively low quantities, so have to deal with higher unit costs, and they’re designed to be able to be used repeatedly in different projects that requires more flexibility and durability than a dedicated final product, have connectors, etc. that a final product wouldn’t need, etc…

          1. “While development boards, etc always cost more than a single purpose mass produced product…”

            True, but I believe the Chinese can produce a board like this Curie one and sell it for much less than $30 even in low volumes.

            The $2 BLE ARM-based modules I have purchased from China are low volume general purpose development boards. They don’t include sensors, but add-on sensor boards from China are dirt cheap these days.

          2. And when you add up all the extra sensors you still get close to this price but also end up with a much larger total package… All in one solutions also cost more…

            While low volume is relative, many of what you’re referring still gets produced in the millions while something like a educational product may only get a few thousand made at a time…

            Besides, many China products don’t all meet the same quality… Being less concerned about toxic materials and recyclability… So there are usually other trade offs as well when comparing to cheap China products…

          3. AFAIK the only sensor the Curie board will have is an accelerometer and gyroscope. Those can be found on ebay for well under $5 each in a tiny PCB form factor.

            I have no doubt there will be Chinese clones of this new Arduino board for well under $30 all over the internet in no time, just as there are dirt cheap clones of every other Arduino board. The quality will be indistinguishable from the “genuine” board.

          4. Nope, for the simple fact there are no low cost equivalents for any Arduino product…

            Many of the ones you’re thinking of are inferior products with fewer features, lower processing power, and requires more accessories, along with less support as this Arduino will be compatible with an established list of accessories and kits already available for other Arduino products.

            The support, especially, isn’t something you’d get with most no name products… Along with everything else I stated that you’re still ignoring like quality and how big a difference in quantities these products deal with…

            You think something like a Raspberry Pi does well because it’s the cheapest? Nope, rather because of the support and infrastructure it provides its users…

            So you’re really making apple and oranges comparison as if they were really equivalent when they’re not…

          5. I can tell you don’t work with the Arduino platform. I do, so let me tell you a little about it.

            Arduino is an open source hardware & software platform. All development tools and documentation are freely available on the internet. The schematic diagrams for the Arduino boards are freely available on the internet. The Arduino boards themselves are quite simple, just an MCU with a crystal, a handful of discrete components, a USB to serial converter chip, a voltage regulator, and IO pin headers. They work at 16MHz and below so PCB layout isn’t critical. All those things combined makes it easy to create high quality clones of them.

            Every Arduino board I have right now is a Chinese clone and I know from personal experience that they work as well as the real deal. They are 100% pin and voltage compatible. Same MCU, same clock frequency. The biggest difference is in the USB to serial chip some clones use, which doesn’t really matter as long as a good device driver is available (and it is available for Windows and Linux).

            So yeah, if I see a Chinese Curie clone for around $5 I might be tempted…

          6. Sorry but you’re obviously ignoring the very real differences and just trying to justify purchasing low quality components that’ll likely give you heavy metal poisoning over time…

            Low quality China products are what lead to things like exploding cellphone batteries.

            Often, the clone I/O headers aren’t soldered on right – they’ll be pitched, askew, crooked… You have to worry more about component failure, a bad voltage regulator, Community resources don’t always apply to them even if they’re technically compatible, etc. and Open Source doesn’t mean they’re the same or can always be interchangeable… along with not all MCU’s being equal either…

            In the end you get what you pay for and if you want to pay less then just accept that comes with compromises, whether you want to admit to them or not…

          7. I still have a roll of lead/tin solder that I purchased back in 1994. The solder joints look so much prettier than when I use the lead free solder…

            None of my cheap Chinese Arduino modules have exploded so far.

            I have received some modules with IO headers that weren’t perfectly aligned. That didn’t keep me from using them just fine.

            I haven’t noticed any bad solder joints so far, but if I ever do I can easily fix them with the good old soldering iron and made in the USA lead/tin solder.

            I haven’t had any component failures so far that weren’t due to me wiring things incorrectly.

            Free development tools, documentation and community resources have worked fine for me so far.

            An Atmega MCU is an Atmega MCU. Atmel is the only supplier for those chips.
            A Curie SOC will be a Curie SOC. Intel will be the only supplier for those chips.

            I am fine with getting what I paid for. What bothers me is when I get less than I paid for, which is what often happens with expensive brand names.

          8. You do know the reason to use lead free solder is because you don’t want that stuff in your lungs?

            While looking good and being good are not necessarily the same thing either…

            Sure, you can get lucky but you can easily be unlucky and get a bad module… That’s the problem with going cheap… you may save some money some of the time but not all of the time and you may end up redoing a job you thought already done again later… Cheap and reliable aren’t synonymous…

            While you may have had better luck than some but there’s more than enough mixed reviews to show it happens enough to show it’s a factor and you ignore that factor at your own risk…

            Besides, there’s a whole list I basically gave you and you still have yet to even address more than one or two of them at a time.

            And no, not all MCU’s are the same… There’s a range from basic microcontrollers to processor based microcontrollers, along with 8, 16 and 32 bit versions…

            Besides, the Curie has a Quark SE core with 80 KB SRAM and 384 KB flash. At the size of a button, it also features a 6-axis combo sensor with accellerometer and gyroscope, a DSP
            sensor hub, an Bluetooth LE unit and a battery charge controller. The CPU instruction set is the same as a Pentium (P54C/i586) CPU… So, it’s not as powerful as the regular Quark, which can compete with a Raspberry Pi, but it’s not just a microcontroller either…

            Anyway, unless you’re paying more for a Curie than a regular Arduino (not clone) board then you’re not getting a bad deal… It’s just a question of whether you want to buy into that market, which Intel plans to push into a lot of wearables and the Curie board is basically the developers kit…

            Intel has a deal for one company to produce wearables in woman’s clothing and unless they bomb it’ll eventually find its way into others… If you’re a product developer then this is actually a pretty good deal because developer kits can cost a lot more and they’re making it easy by both being affordable and pretty standardized… as well as leaving it open for people to figure out other things to do with it…

            It’s fine if you don’t want to be part of that… plenty of other options… but it’s wrong to portray cheap solutions that aren’t consistent, can be detrimental to your long term health, and can just fail when least expected as being the same as a product sold with known reliability, consistency, and support from communities as well as the companies involved…

            Sure, someone can save money and jury rig something together from loose parts… You can probably slap a functioning DIY Arduino from about $5 is parts and a bread board but that won’t make it as compact, consistent, or as reliable… Never mind being able to do the project as fast as a pre-made board just to save money…

            There’s always trade offs… you may like yours but they’re definitely not for everyone and that’s the point…

          9. I have been using lead/tin solder for electronic projects for over 40 years, so it is a bit late for me to start worrying about lead poisoning now. Nevertheless, I am healthier and more fit than most people my age.

            It is true that cheap and reliable aren’t synonymous, but is is also true that expensive and reliable aren’t synonymous. Lemons can happen in generic as well as top brands. You can find plenty of complaints about the reliability of expensive European cars, for example. Even the most expensive product in the world can fail when you least expect it.

            I know there is a range of Atmel MCUs, but Arduino boards are standardized on a few specific part numbers. All my Arduino boards are based on the Atmega328.

            Building an Arduino Atmega328 circuit from scratch for $5 seems like a good idea until you realize it is easy to find complete Atmega328 Arduino modules for under $2 on ebay these days. If you look hard you can sometimes find them for under $1. When I say these modules are dirt cheap I am not exaggerating.

            I use the cheap Arduino modules for hobby projects. The Arduino platform is primarily targeted at DIY hobby types and students. If I was planing to make money from a Curie based product I wouldn’t hesitate to spend big money for a professional level development board and tools.

          10. Nevertheless, I am healthier and more fit than most people my age.

            A lot of people think that but doesn’t mean it’s true… Like, for example, most Americans students think they’re good at math, but the US actually ranks 26th in the world. Problem with heavy metal poisoning is the effects tend to be accumulative and things like reduced lung capacity over time isn’t something you’d notice unless you time how long you can hold your breath, etc. because your body can adapt to reduced lung capacity over time…

            Besides, even without lead solder smoke can contain isocyanates, aldehydes, and other unhealthy substances. So anyone starting should get proper ventilation and possibly use a filter mask if soldering for prolonged periods at a time.

            Anyway, your analogy on lemons fails to realize that you’re far, far, far, far, far more likely to get a lemon from a cheap no name product. So, while expensive and reliable may not be strictly synonymous but there is still a reason why it’s still considered getting what you pay for and there’s also a difference from expensive and getting a good value for what you pay for…

            Like you don’t need to get a expensive sports car to still benefit from a car with a good engine… and there are more expensive developer boards than Arduinos…

            Besides, you’re basically arguing like a gambler who wants to make the long shot look as good as the almost sure thing… For many people, it’s not enough to just be lucky…

            Btw, the under $2 options gives you the problem of not knowing if the components are near failure and you’re more likely to toss the whole thing if it fails than a DIY where you can far more easily replace a component if it fails, along with being far more flexible… or at least save you the time of soldering, desoldering, etc. to replace the part… So there are situations where the price difference isn’t the only thing you should consider…

            Anyway, there’s a place for the cheap no name products but not to the point that you can use them to justify ignoring the name brands that provide more reliability, more support, and are the ones that actually establish the standards and are far more likely to have a community of users that can help each other.

            So again, what works for you is one thing but the point is it’s hardly ideal for everyone and that’s why most people don’t ignore these higher priced products and stick to the no name cheap alternatives…. Besides, no one is forcing you to get anything and it’s always better for the consumers as long as there are choices for everyone…

          11. I believe I am healthier than most people my age because that’s what my doctor keeps telling me when I go in for a physical. I know I am more fit that most people my age because I can see it when I go to the gym. I work out 3-5 times a week with high intensity cardio and/or weights for 1-2 hours each time. But of course you are right about many people overestimating their health, beauty, talent, intelligence, etc.

            I do certainly avoid inhaling the fumes when soldering and wash my hands when I am done. It is a good thing that lead has a boiling point over 3000F and that soldering temperatures are only around 700F. That means there should be very little vaporized metal on those fumes.

            I don’t always buy the cheapest version of a product. I do my research and use common sense and many years of experience to decide when cheap is the way to go and when it is not. I am very comfortable with using the cheap Arduino modules for my hobby projects, but I wouldn’t use them for the next NASA mission to Mars or for an implantable medical device.

            My opinions about the Curie Arduino are from the point of view of a hobby user with a shoestring budget.

          12. That’s the thing, you’re only seemingly thinking in terms of a disposable product that just needs to be able to do the job in a pinch but this is something that’s meant to be used repeatedly for multiple projects and is one of the reasons it’s marketed for educational purposes.

            So not like just grabbing a part from a parts bin, use and forget…

    2. I have purchased 32-bit ARM BLE ready-to-use modules for $2 with free shipping on ebay. This Curie board is interesting but way overpriced at $30.

      1. Can you share the ebay links? I would love to buy one. All I can find are the $8 ones with serial IO (not a standalone solutions).

        1. Search for “CC2541 BLE” on ebay. The ones I see right now are “buy it now” for around $2.50. The ones I bought under $2 were on auction and I was lucky to be the only bidder.

          1. You are right, those are 8051 based. Brain fart due to old age I guess :-). It is still amazing to me they can sell them for those prices with free shipping.

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