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Linux mini-PC and JavaScript speed IoT development

Mar 13, 2014 — by Eric Brown 2,855 views

Marvell has reached its Indiegogo goal for “Kinoma Create,” a Linux- and JavaScript-based hardware/software platform for quick and easy development of IoT gizmos.

Kinoma Create is defined by Marvell’s Kinoma division as a “construction kit” for developing Internet of Things (IoT) consumer electronics and companion apps. The platform “helps software developers become makers, makers tackle projects with less hassle, and designers prototype products faster,” says Marvell.

The touchscreen mini-PC and software bundle is available on Indiegogo for $99 for a remaining 70 or so early bird investors, before it jumps to $149. Marvell has already more than doubled its modest $10,000 Indiegogo funding goal for Kinoma Create, which is projected to ship in September.

Kinoma Create
(click images to enlarge)

Marvell launched the project earlier this week at SXSW in Austin, Texas, targeting “makers” who have found it too difficult to master Linux hacker boards like the Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone. It’s also suitable for educators and students, says the company.


The development platform enables the prototyping of IoT consumer electronics in as little as a few weeks by streamlining typical device interactions, claims Marvell. For example, its JavaScript routines support a variety of sensors, making it “as easy to read a sensor value as it is to use a variable,” says the company. It also provides integrated mobile app creation, as well as preconfigured connections with web services.

The Kinoma Create device showcases the Kinoma Platform Runtime (KPR), a JavaScript and XML programming environment that is said to be suitable for both professional programmers and novices. KPR, which is set to be open sourced in the fourth quarter, was used to develop a free, Android-ready Kinoma Connect app announced last month, which offers DLNA-compatible media streaming. The Kinoma division is built around Marvell’s 2010 acquisition of Kinoma.

Kinoma Create projects
(click image to enlarge)

Kinoma Create also ships with an Eclipse-based Kinoma Studio development environment for KPR that runs on Windows or Mac platforms, but apparently not Linux desktops. Kinoma Studio integrates the Kinoma Create simulator, as well as a wireless debugger. It also provides Android and iOS app packagers for designing mobile apps with KPR.

The Kinoma Create hardware runs a “custom, lightweight Linux distribution” on Marvell’s Aspen system-on-chip, better known as the PXA168. This five year old processor offers an ARMv5-derived, 800MHz Sheeva core descended from XScale and Ferocean architectures, and can be considered a stepping stone between ARM11 and the ARMv7 based Cortex-A8. The SoC offers integrated connectivity, multimedia, and touchscreen interfaces, and runs on a low 2 Watts.

The Kinoma Create mini-PC is equipped with a QVGA (320 x 240) capacitive touchscreen that looks to be about 2-3 inches on the diagonal. There’s also a microSD slot, and WiFi and Bluetooth radios. A USB 2.0 OTG port is supplied, along with a variety of sensor-oriented I/O, including GPIOs, analog inputs, UARTs, I2C, and PWM interfaces.

Kinoma Create breakout diagram
(click image to enlarge)

A sensor breakout board is available that enables many sensor based devices to be prototyped without requiring a breadboard, says Marvell. The device can be powered “wirelessly,” as well as by USB or an optional battery, says Marvell.

Preliminary specifications listed for the Kinoma Create include:

  • Processor — Marvell Aspen/PXA168 (1x ARM/Sheeva core @ 800MHz)
  • Memory expansion — microSD slot
  • Display — QVGA capacitive touchscreen
  • Wireless — 802.11/b/g/n; Bluetooth
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 OTG port
    • 20-36x configurable GPIOs
    • 0-16x configurable analog inputs
    • I2C (1x physical bus, 2x soft buses)
    • UART (1x physical bus, 2x soft buses)
    • 3x PWM
    • Sensor breakout
  • Other features — speaker; mic; adjustable stand; rear hatch
  • Software — Kinoma Platform Runtime; Kinoma Studio
  • Power — supports USB and wireless power; optional battery
  • Operating system — Linux

“I’m into rapid sensor integration, and Kinoma Create pushes the boundaries of how quickly I can evolve my projects to get feedback from my teams and users,” stated Valkyrie Savage, EECS PhD Student and co-founder of Savage Internet.

“Product engineers have been working on fragile development boards with complex embedded tools for too long,” stated Peter Hoddie, Marvell’s Kinoma VP. “We’ve rethought the developer experience from the outside in. Innovations in Kinoma Create’s case are just a hint at the software innovations inside.”

Kinoma Create video

Further information

Kinoma Create is available for pre-sales funding at Indiegogo for $99 (early bird) or $149. Shipments are expected in September. More information may be found at Kinoma Create Indiegogo page.

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