Making wearable devices gets easier with Freescale's Warp development kit

Freescale's mini-computer called Warp allows DIYers and device makers prototype wearable devices

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

An important element in wearable devices is connectivity, and the Warp supports Bluetooth and 802.11 Wi-Fi. It does not support Zigbee, which is used by a wide number of sensor arrays to communicate. Warp also has LCD and E-ink display interfaces, USB, power management features and sensors such as accelerometers and magnetometers. The mini-computer is expandable through add-on cards -- also called daughter cards -- through which other wearable devices like health monitors can be made and tested.

"We currently have two other daughter cards in planning for launch in 2014 that will enable other usage models including ECG and continuous heart rate monitoring," Thompson said.

By exploring new usage models, the Warp community will also help in the development of expansion cards, Thompson said.

The board has a Freescale single-core i.MX 6SoloLite processor based on the ARM Cortex-A9 processor core design. It has 2D graphics capabilities, and draws minimal power. The i.MX 6SoloLite chip supports external 32-bit LPDDR2 memory or low-voltage DDR3 memory. It also supports Ethernet inputs and SD cards.

Warp comes with Android 4.3 OS and a related software development kit. The hardware is open-source, and the company will publish the schematics of the board for others to replicate and manufacture.

"We are following the Open Source Hardware Association best practices. We will also publish a complete open source version of Android 4.3 with limited functionality," Thompson said.

Warp is a result of a collaboration between Freescale, software company Kynetics and robotics company Revolution Robotics, Freescale said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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