What the heck is an Arduino? Simply put, it's a programmable microcontroller used to control hardware based on inputs from a wide array of sensors. Arduino-based products are open source, inexpensive, and very versatile. Microcontrollers have been utilized for a while to bring digital functionality and control to systems where a full blown operating system is unneeded and where reliability is important. Cars have many microcontrollers monitoring and controlling systems from windows to airbags. Many motherboards have dedicated microcontrollers for USB-based BIOS recovery flashing, fan control, and even overclocking features. The Arduino allows you to mix and match sensors with hardware to interact with the physical world, opening up possibilities for new devices in the internet of things (IoT).
The Arduino 101 provides Bluetooth LE, a 6-axis combo gyro and accelerometer, and even a real-time clock, but you also get a lot more processing power than you might need. The Curie SoC is using a Quark SE core which offers a capable sensor hub along with a 128-node Neural Network for quick pattern recognition of the inertial motion unit. To make things easier for the adoption of this new Arduino product, the Arduino 101 is pin compatible with Arduino Uno R3 shields, it's 5v tolerant even though it's designed for low power 3.3v operation, and it's fully compatible with the Arduino IDE. The purpose of the Arduino 101 is to bring students, developers, and makers closer to the hardware using the tiny Curie module which offers much more than many might expect.
The Arduino 101 has the same dimensions as the Arduino Uno, and the pins are compatible. You can stick shields designed for the Uno on the 101. While the optimum voltage for the 101 is 3.3v, the device does support 5v operation. The Curie SoC uses a Quark core and an ARC core that work together to tackle tasks. The SoC also provides a 32MHz/32-bit DSP sensor hub and 128-node neural network used for pattern recognition of the 6-axis accelerometer/gyro, which means the device can report a step count or other recognized inertial patterns with ease. The Curie module also has Bluetooth Low Energy built-in. As with the Uno, you can power the 101 through USB or a DC input jack.
The Arduino 101 costs only $29.99 as most places we checked online.
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