All News | Boards | Chips | Devices | Software | Archive | About | Contact | Subscribe
Follow LinuxGizmos:
Twitter Facebook Pinterest RSS feed
*   get email updates   *

Tiny Android-powered module targets wearables

Jan 6, 2014 — by Eric Brown 5,791 views

[Updated Jan 8] — Freescale has unveiled a tiny, open, Android-based wearable reference platform based on an i.MX6 ARM SoC and supported by a community site.

Freescale Semiconductor’s ARM Cortex-A9-based i.MX6 system-on-chips have been popular among makers of embedded Linux computer-on-modules (COMs) and single board computers (SBCs), but have only recently begun showing up in community-backed open source SBCs, such as Fedevel’s i.MX6 Rex. Now Freescale is launching its own tiny, open source SBC based on the i.MX6, or specifically, the single-core i.MX 6SoloLite, which offers the 3G accelerator, but not the HD video accelerator, of the dual- and quad-core i.MX6 SoC models.

Warpboard top and bottom
(click images to enlarge)

This is not your everyday SBC, however, but one specifically aimed at wearable computing devices. The Wearables Reference Platform (WaRP) is designed for developers of sports monitors, smart glasses, activity trackers, smartwatches, and wearable healthcare/medical devices, says Freescale.

Left to right: WaRP daughter card; Warpboard and battery added; LCD added
(click images to enlarge)

The WaRP board will ship in the second quarter of 2014 for $149 in a kit that includes a daughter card, an LCD display, a battery, a micro-USB cable, and an Android stack, says the company. It will be backed by a nonprofit community and a site, sponsored by Freescale. All software and hardware designs will be available as open source.

For a scalabale hardware design, Freescale colalborated with robotics developer Revolution Robotics, which sells an ARM Linux-based Revo-1 desktop robot among other embedded devices. For the device’s software, the company tapped a startup called Kynetics.

Wearables Reference Platform (WaRP) block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Thanks to WaRP’s modular architecture, Android or generic Linux runs directly on the Warpboard’s Cortex-A9 based i.MX6, while real-time data collection chores are offloaded to the Cortex-M4-based Kinetis microcontroller on the Kinetis KL16 daughter card. Similarly, WaRP’s modular hardware partitioning makes it easy for the hacker/maker community to create custom daughter cards for unique wearable applications.


The WaRP kit will combine the 1GHz i.MX 6SoloLite on the mainboard with a daughter card featuring Freescale’s ARM Cortex-M0+ Kinetis KL16 microcontroller. The company has yet to post full specs for the kit, but it appears that the kit’s two Xtrinsic sensor modules reside on the daughter card, as the card is said to be usable as a “sensor hub as well as a wireless charging MCU.”

Freescale i.MX 6SoloLite SoC block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The daughter cards plug into the pair of high-density connectors on the SBC’s bottom (seen in the photos farther above), and can be any desired size, according to Robert Thompson, Freescale’s WaRP product lead. One daughter card is currently completed and two more are in development, he adds.

The Kinetis KL16 MCU is available at up to 48MHz, and offers as much as 32KB of flash in the 5 x 5mm 32 QFN package, or up to 256KB in the larger 80 LQFP package. The MCU provides a variety of analog, communication, timing, and control peripherals, including support for SPI, I2C, I2S, and UARTs.

Freescale’s Xtrinsic MMA9553xL turn-key pedometer and Xtrinsic FXOS8700 electronic compass are also included in the kit. The MMA9553xL is described as an intelligent motion sensing platform that integrates a MEMS accelerometer, a 32-bit embedded ColdFire microcontroller, and flash memory. It also offers a dedicated architecture for managing other sensors, says Freescale. The MMA955xL can be programmed for freefall detection, tilt and 3D orientation detection, tap and double tap detection, dead reckoning, shock, vibration, sudden motion detection, and power management, says the company.

The Xtrinsic FXOS8700, meanwhile, combines 14-bit accelerometer and 16-bit magnetometer sensors in a 3 x 3 x 1.2mm QFN plastic package. An ASIC is supplied to enable an eCompass feature with a typical orientation resolution of 0.1 degrees and sub 5 degree compass heading accuracy, according to Freescale. Other applications are said to include UI assistance, augmented reality, and location based services.

“Wearables represent one of the ultimate edge node sensors for the Internet of Things, and hold tremendous promise for equipment makers, service providers and consumers alike,” stated Rajeev Kumar, director of worldwide marketing and business development for Freescale’s Microcontrollers business.

Further information

The Wearables Reference Platform (WaRP) kit will be available in Q2 2014 for $149. More information, including datasheets for the i.MX6, the Kinetis KL16, and the two Xtrinsic modules, may be found at the Warpboard website.

(advertise here)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Please comment here...