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Smartwatch doubles as IoT device with Bluetooth

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wearable? smartwatch? IoT? low power? Bluetooth?

User interface and App development

In terms of fast software user-interface development for wearables, the Koru OS from Korulab offers a user interface that looks much like the Android OS, but is highly optimised in terms of code density and is targeted at wearables that run on MCU-powered hardware.

The memory footprint for core system code is as small as 118KB, yet it can also handle 60fps (frames per second) performance on a Cortex-M4 processor. There is kernel support for OSes such as Android, FreeRTOS, NetBSD and Linux and graphics engine support including OpenGL ES, Open VG and Framebuffer. The Koru UI framework makes it easy for software coding with tools that can automatically generate all the necessary graphical assets. The OS is also highly scalable for different size screens for various wearable form factors such as a watch, amulet or armband.

And for developers looking to develop a wearable product within a few days or perhaps even hours, all that is required is the development of a mobile app based on MetaWear, which started life as a Kickstarter project.

This is a production-ready platform based on an SoC that combines a Cortex-M0 Cbased MCU with a Bluetooth LE transceiver, together with sensors such as an accelerometer and temperature sensor.

The MetaWear firmware comes pre-loaded on the platform and exposes Bluetooth services and characteristics for all peripherals and sensors. MetaWear Android or iOS APIs are available for download and even sample iOS and Android apps are available to get developers started. In addition, 3D CAD designs for enclosures for the MetaWear hardware are also available for generation on a 3D printer.


The axis of this story of development building blocks for the quick creation of wearable and accessory products revolves around the reality that there is an exceptionally wide choice of ARM Cortex-M based hardware available today, in conjunction with the extensive ARM and mbed software ecosystem. This breadth of choice, market familiarity of the technology and software support has enabled the Cortex-M family to be the processor architecture on which the wearable market revolution is based.

Google's AndroidWear operating system, announced at the GoogleIO conference in June 2014, is being brought into the market on Cortex-A processors in devices like the Moto360 watch.

The ubiquity of high-performance and low-power ARM based solutions for mobile and wearable markets means that developers will not have to remain with one supplier of ARM-based MCUs and/or Bluetooth LE controller/RF chips or modules, or indeed sensors. There is a wide range of Cortex-M based MCUs from many leading chipmakers at ever more attractive price points, ranging from the ultra-low-power Cortex-M0+ through to the highly versatile and popular Cortex-M3, right up to the high-end Cortex-M4.

While the processors that ARM provides deliver very compelling performance, power and cost points, ARM's focus has turned to assembling an ecosystem of additional system building blocks, centred on enabling customers to deploy (internet-connected) systems as efficiently and quickly as possible.

On the software side, there is a range of operating systems, compilers, middleware, code libraries and other tools that support Cortex-M processors via the ARM mbed ecosystem. This rich collection of resources makes it possible and perhaps surprisingly easy to design a wearable device or appcessory featuring low-energy Bluetooth connectivity and ARM Cortex processing capabilities within weeks or even days.

- Diya Soubra
??CPU Product Marketing Manager for the Cortex-M3 processor

and IoT sub-systems, ARM

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