Intel Curie: A Tiny Module for Tomorrow’s Wearables

This week at CES 2015 Intel announced a new development board targeted primarily for wearable applications – the Intel Curie. This could be the smallest development board to date, with a diameter just shy of 20 millimeter or about 0.7 inch. The tiny module will be built around Intel’s 32-bit Quark SE SoC architecture and will feature several types of sensors, Bluetooth LE connectivity and some type of power management interface. Final configuration is not yet known as the module is still in prototyping phase, and approvals are to be obtained but Intel is confident that shipping will start in the second semester of 2015.

Intel Curie at CES 2015

Intel Curie at CES 2015 | Photo: Intel

Intel is very serious about becoming a serious player in the wearable technology segment and the Internet of Things. Last year lots of efforts were made to this direction with the well-known “Make It Wearable” challenge, as well as various strategic partnerships with several fashion and accessories companies. This year Intel has also announced collaborating with Oakley in creating a high tech eyewear product that will be made available by the end of the year.

Even if it’s less than half the size of Arduino LilyPad products, and even smaller than Edison, Intel Curie is designed as a standalone product with all required hardware available on board. A power management IC (PMIC) will handle battery charging and usage, while a DSP hub, running proprietary algorithms, will harvest and process sensor data from a 6-axis IMU sensor, all information being relayed through a Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) interface.

Intel Curie known configuration

Dimensions approx. 18 mm or 0.7 inch diameter
MCU Quark SE SoC, unknown frequency
Memory 80kB SRAM, 384kB Flash
Communication Bluetooth LE (low energy)
Sensors 6-axis sensor unit with accelerometer and gyroscope
Signal processing Low power DSP sensor hub with proprietary algorithms
Interfaces Battery charging and power management (PMIC)
OS Open-source real-time OS (RTOS)
Software Intel IQ Software (SDK?) suite with embedded applications, smartphone app and cloud integration

The Curie will not feature an application processor, however such hardware is not required if the module will be used just for collecting and sending motion data, and this could also have a positive impact on battery life. Below is a spec sheet with all information available to date.

The device will run a very small footprint open-source real time OS (RTOS) and will also be accompanied by a collection of tools called Intel IQ Software kits which include generic embedded software for wearable applications, software which is also integrated with smartphone apps and cloud services.

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