ARM-based Solutions Span Gamut of Applications at this Year’s CES
By Dave Bursky, Senior Editor
Designers are leveraging a wide range of ARM cores to deliver innovative products for consumer applications.
Over the past decade, ARM Ltd. has garnered an enviable position as the majority provider of processor cores for cell phones, tablets, and many wearable products. However, walking through the aisles at this year’s International CES show demonstrated that ARM® processor cores have also become the engines of choice for many additional products such as 3D printers, robots, digital pens, wireless power transceivers, pet toys, a wireless TV viewer with a pico projector, and many unusual products that show how innovative design and manufacturing companies can be. Additionally, designers are employing cores ranging from the low-end ARM Cortex®-M0 up to multi-core Cortex-A9 clusters, to meet cost and performance requirements.
Following are examples that caught my eye, of novel products employing various ARM cores to accomplish tasks and deliver new capabilities.
A low-cost 3D printer, demonstrated by New Matter, is priced to target the educational market and home users at $399 (Figure 1). The MOD-t uses a closed-loop servo control system based on an ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller that is part of the STM-32 family from STMicro. The microcontroller leverages the ARM Cortex-M4 processor, which performs a calibration cycle and then does the positioning and dispensing of the low-cost plastic polylactic acid (PLA) filament material. The printer is controlled via a browser-based interface that can be found on most modern desktop and mobile browsers. Both a WiFi interface and a USB 2.0 port allow the printer files in .STL or .OBJ format to be transferred to the printer. A Texas Instruments CC3100 WiFi module provides the wireless connectivity; it also has its own embedded ARM processor.
In the robotics area, Wowwee showed off its latest creation, the Chip K9 robotic dog. Packing almost 20 sensors, as well as transmitters, receivers, infrared emitters, Bluetooth communications, and mechatronics, the robot can respond to multiple commands (Figure 2). It can also interact with a smart ball that incorporates eigh