This year at CES, Intel introduced Curie — a button-sized system-on-chip module made for low-power wearables — but the company was mum on what would be the first products to use it. Now we know. Intel just announced at Maker Faire Rome that the first product to use the Curie module is a brand new, low-cost Arduino board called Arduino 101. And while that may not be the flashy wearable technology that some expected — Intel CEO Brian Krzanich did bring the CEO of Oakley on stage when he announced Curie to tease an upcoming device — the new Curie-enabled Arduino board can still be a really important piece of technology.
Inside Curie is a Bluetooth LE chip, an accelerator for gesture recognition, and a six-axis combination accelerometer and gyroscope. As Mike Bell, head of Intel's new devices group told me in January, it gets you "pretty far along towards a product, you really just have to add your secret sauce on top of this and you’d have a pretty great wearable product." Arduino, an Italian company, has spent most of the last decade making the go-to product for anyone looking to get started with programming, coding, or electronics, particularly in the DIY and maker communities. For both sides, it's a no-brainer of a match.
Beginner DIY projects are about to get a lot smarter
"[Curie] adds this level of connected interactivity to a simple microcontroller board that, we think at least, is something that’s expected for kids and makers these days," says Jay Melican, a senior research scientist at Intel. Not only will Arduino bundle the new board with an electronics and coding course full of projects for kids, but the price will remain right around the $30 mark associated with most (new) Arduino boards.
Arduino projects may be targeted at beginners, but the list of things you could do with the boards before Curie was already a mile long. It made everything from lamp dimmers and binary clocks to universal remotes and home breweries possible. Adding Curie to the mix makes it easier to do things like control projects with your phone over Bluetooth, and access to accelerometer and gyroscope data adds totally new possibilities.
Melican's team, known as the "makers and innovators" group, was just recently spun off from the new devices group, which is where Curie was created. Asked why this was the first project to use Curie, as opposed to something like a Curie-powered smartwatch or sunglasses, he says it wasn't really a decision. "Our team was first to market," he says. "Not that we’re racing."
Arduino 101 will be available in the first quarter of 2016 for $30. It will be called Genuino 101 outside the US.