To help systems designers more easily navigate the quickly evolving consumer wearables market, Freescale Semiconductor is enabling an open-source, scalable reference platform that gives OEMs the building blocks they need to rapidly develop a wide range of wearable product designs from a common platform.
Unlike other wearable solutions, the new platform is not limited to just one form factor or product category. The highly flexible, system-level design kit supports embedded wireless charging, incorporates processors and sensors within a hybrid architecture for scalability and flexibility, and comes with open-source software. The wearables reference platform (WaRP) is engineered to unleash design creativity for multiple vertical segments such as sports monitors, smart glasses, activity trackers, smart watches and healthcare/medical applications.
“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,” said Rajeev Kumar, director of worldwide marketing and business development for Freescale’s Microcontrollers business. “This new solution is engineered to dramatically streamline the design and development of exciting new wearables products. It allows designers and OEMs to go from concept to prototype as quickly as the market is changing.”
According to Juniper Research, retail revenue from smart wearable devices will reach $19 billion by 2018, compared with $1.4 billion in 2013. The firm also projects that sales of smart wearable devices will approach 130 million units by 2018, which is 10 times higher than the number estimated to sell in 2013.
WaRP speeds and simplifies development by addressing many of the top technology challenges of the wearables market – connectivity, usability, battery life and miniaturisation – thereby freeing developers to focus on creating differentiated features. The platform is built on Freescale’s i.MX 6SoloLite ARM® Cortex®-A9 apps processor as the core processing unit, supports the Android OS, and integrates production-grade silicon, software and hardware. The BOM-optimized hybrid architecture also features Freescale’s Xtrinsic MMA9553 turn-key pedometer, award-winning FXOS8700 electronic compass and ARM Cortex-M0+ Kinetis KL16 microcontroller.
WaRP is a result of collaboration between Freescale, Kynetics and Revolution Robotics. Kynetics provides the expertise for the platform’s software, and Revolution Robotics supplies the solution’s hardware. Freescale, Kynetics and Revolution Robotics worked together to develop a platform that is both scalable and modular for various usage models in the wearables market. This hybrid architecture-based platform enables customers to address different and new verticals as the market evolves, and to scale and customize their designs from both a hardware and software perspective to develop a product, or even an entire portfolio.
A nonprofit, community-based organization will provide service and support for the wearables reference platform. The solution's hardware and software will be open sourced and community-driven. No closed development tools or licensing fees are required when used in conjunction with open source resources. In addition, WaRP will have its own .org community to drive innovation in the market.
The wearables reference platform kit includes the main board, a daughter card, an LCD display battery and a micro USB cable. Availability is planned for Q2 2014 for $149 manufacturer’s suggested resale price.