mbed Blog

Gearing up for ARM TechCon 2015 – ARM mbed Highlights

ARM TechCon is fast approaching and with only less than a week away, we wanted to share some of the ARM mbed highlights to make sure you put them on your calendar.

mbed Zone at ARM TechCon


Join us at the ARM mbed Zone (Booth #512) on the ARM TechCon show floor from Nov 11-12 in Santa Clara, CA. Our lead engineers will be onsite to take you through our latest products and how we are enabling developers to focus on their key value add features and ease deployment of IoT devices at scale. Demos will include mbed OS, mbed Device Connector, Thread, yotta and not to mention more than 20 mbed partners showcasing their own mbed supported products and services.

You will find these partner pods on the mbed Zone: 1248, Advantech, Alcatel-Lucent, Atmel, ForgeRock, Freescale, IBM, Maxim Integrated, NXP, Silicon Labs, SpinDance, STMicroelectronics, Qualcomm, u-blox, wot.io, and Zebra.

Rotating mbed Partner Showcase at the mbed bar: See live demos on both Wednesday & Thursday at the mbed bar.

  • 11:00am-12:00pm: Western Digital
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm: Accenture
  • 2:00pm-3:00pm: PixArt
  • 3:00pm-4:00pm: LTEK
  • 4:00pm-5:00pm: SK Telecom
  • 5:00pm-6:30pm: Nexus

Come to the booth to celebrate ARM’s 25th Anniversary

  • When: Wed Nov 11 from 5-6:30pm
  • Where: ARM TechCon Expo theater and floor
  • Champagne and cake to be served from the mbed Zone (#512)
  • Commemorative cocktails served from the ARM booth (#300)
  • Around the world food stations

Lastly, make sure you book these sessions in your calendar.

mbed Session at ARM TechCon

Wednesday November 11

Accelerating Internet of Things with ARM mbed - Presented by ARM

  • Krisztian Flautner | General Manager, ARM Internet of Things
  • Location: Ballroom D
  • Time: 10:30am - 11:20am

Hands on Workshop: Building an end-to-end IoT Application with ARM mbed and IBM IoT Foundation the Freescale FRDM-K64F platform

  • Sam Grove | Staff Engineer, ARM
  • Location: Great America J
  • Time: 10:30am - 12:20pm

Don’t forget to get your Software Developer’s Workshop Pass so you can join us for the talk! Use the discount code ARMSDW50 for a 50% discount.

Secured Communication Between Devices and Clouds with LinkIt ONE and mbed TLS - Presented by Mediatek

  • Steve Si | Technical Director, MediaTek Labs
  • Location: Ballroom B
  • Time: 10:30am - 11:20am

ARM mbed powering the Internet of Things that really matter

  • Pelle Svensson | Product Marketing Manager, u-blox
  • Location: Ballroom E
  • Time: 11:30am - 12:20pm

Making IoT Scalable, Robust and Easy to Deploy - Presented by ARM

  • Zach Shelby | VP of Marketing, ARM Internet of Things
  • Michael Norman | Technical Marketing Manager, Freescale
  • John M Cohn | IBM Fellow, Internet of Things, IBM
  • Pilgrim Beart | Founder, 1248.io
  • Location: Ballroom D
  • Time: 11:30am - 12:20pm

Improving Business Agility with ARM mbed for Connected Devices

  • Derek Wallace | Product Management, MultiTech
  • Location: Expo Theater
  • Time: 3:30pm - 4:00pm

Building mbed together: an overview of mbed OS and how to get involved - Presented by ARM

  • Hugo Vincent | mbed OS Product Lead, ARM Internet of Things
  • Paul Bakker | Product Strategy, ARM Internet of Things
  • Location: Ballroom D
  • Time: 4:30pm - 5:20pm

Introducing mbed 3.0 Thread Platform - Presented by NXP Semiconductors

  • Shashank Goel | Global Product Marketing Manager - Smart Home Solutions, NXP Semiconductors
  • Ian Morris | Pricipal Applications Engineer, NXP Semiconductors
  • Location: Ballroom C
  • Time: 4:30pm - 5:20pm

Thursday November 12

Learn to Develop Your Next IoT Project Using ARM mbed IoT Kit for Zatar

  • Valik Solorzano Barboza | Snr Director Engineering Zatar, Zebra Technologies
  • Santiago Romero | Product Owner, Zebra Technologies
  • Location: Ballroom F
  • Time: 10:30am - 11:20am

Good reads prior to ARM TechCon:

CUES Hackathon Wrap-Up

Last weekend the mbed team was at the CUES Hackathon, the first ever ARM mbed wearable hackathon.

With 100 participants from the University of Cambridge, CUES Hackathon was a great success. Over the course of 24 hours, teams of student build amazing projects. The participants were given a BLE Nano development board from RedBearLab which contains a Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 SoC that enables Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) communication with mobile phones and other BLE devices.

Of all the projects, here are few that stood out.

First Prize winner: Rowbot-Personalised Rowing Advice They developed a miniature wireless device that attaches near the rower’s wrist and streams real-time acceleration data to a mobile phone.

The device can both analyze data by itself and give personalized advice, or can be used by the team coach to track the performance of the team.

We were impressed with the completeness of their solution. It looked like a product that can be on the market within a week despite being made in the last 24 hours.

/media/uploads/katiedmo/cues_hack_2015_image2.png Detailed description and their code can be found here.

Runner-Up: Internet Of Decks: Clothing containing LED Strips which beat in time to music

They developed clothing containing an embedded microcontroller and LED strips which beat in time to music. The LED Strips switch between many colours and flash in one of three patterns. A phone app is used to control when the device is on and which of the three patterns is used. Watch the video here.

We were impressed by the project’s commercial potential. The unique perspective of letting the DJ control your wearable can open up new markets.


Third Place: IoT Enabled Wearable SmartBin

They developed a Bluetooth Low Energy based Smart Bin, which measures the mass and volume of rubbish contained inside.

A companion smartphone app logs the data, renders beautiful graphs, and tweets passive-aggressively when the bin is full.

Although the team took a playful approach to their product and presentation, a connected rubbish bin can have serious social consequences in real life. If the bins in each home can report how full it is, city council can optimise its pick up routine to reduce fuel consumption and labour costs. If people can track how much rubbish they are producing and compare to their peers, they can be motivated to reduce their waste production.

A video demonstration of the mobile app can be found here.

More technical detail can be found here.


There are a lot more interesting projects at the event, if you are interested follow the links below:


For more pictures from the event, check out the Facebook event here.

Activity Round Up – Oct 2015: mbed Enabled applications open, Cannybots & new platforms!

It has been a while since we last did a round up. Needless to say we, have been a little busy and here are some of the recent highlights and activities.

mbed Enabled program applications open!

Earlier in the summer we announced the mbed Enabled™ program. Well it's here and applications are now open!


The mbed Enabled program is designed for mbed developers and partners who want to clearly identify their products as interoperable mbed Enabled technologies. This program allows mbed developers to focus their efforts on products that are compatible with the mbed development environment and interoperable with each other, and so reduce their time to market. It also gives further credibility to cloud services, silicon and OEM products in the Internet of Things (IoT) market by identifying them as standards-based.

How to apply?

We have divided the program and applications into two phases.

  • Phase 2: For any microcontroller, platform, component and end product using the mbed SDK, all the information you need can be found here:
    • Program overview and Technical requirements
    • Apply Here
  • Phase 3: For any target SoC, target module, board, component, cloud service and end product that utilizing mbed OS. At this time only Cloud Service applications are open, additional category applications will available soon.

Please ensure your product or service meets all the technical required before applying. Applications that do not meet the requirements will not be reviewed.

Learning to code with Cannybots

Cannybots is a 3D printed toy robot car that aims to make learning to program fun and interactive. The car was developed with a mbed Enabled Nordic NRF15822 BLE board and a bespoke utility for drag and drop over the air programing. Check out this video of the sequence in action. Their Kickstarter launch on September 29, 2015 and funded in one day!

mbed Zone at ARM TechCon


If you are planning to attend ARM TechCon or will be in Santa Clara, CA from Novemeber 10-12, stop by the ARM mbed Zone. Meet the lead engineers who are designing the mbed OS to find out how it accelerates your development. ARM’s cloud services teams will be at the technology bar showing how easy it is to connect edge devices to the cloud whether it’s for development or mass production. ARM will also be joined by over 20 partners from the mbed ecosystem who have deployed mbed Enabled products and services today.

New mbed Classic Platforms:

There are a handful of new platforms that have been released including one with the ARM Cortex™-M7 and others with connectivity ranging from Ethernet to BLE.

Scheduled Maintenance Thursday 6th August

To support the continuing growth of mbed storage upgrades will be performed on 6th of August starting at 0645 UTC (0745 BST, 1500 JST, 2300 Aug 5th PST)

developer.mbed.org will be unavailable from 0645 UTC, work is anticipated to be complete by 0900 UTC.

The growth of developer.mbed.org means we have outgrown our current storage infrastructure. Switching to new infrastructure will give us more storage and will simplify future growth. We recognise this will be an inconvenience to our users and hope you understand that this is necessary.

This maintenance was initially planned for the 4th but has been rescheduled.

Working with the BBC on micro:bit: Part 1 - using the mbed HDK

For the last few months, we’ve been hard at work helping the BBC and its partners in the Make it Digital campaign turn the BBC micro:bit into an awesome reality. With the launch announcement today, we are now able to talk a lot more about the BBC micro:bit, mbed, and how together with its partners the BBC has built a working mbed Enabled board in just four months.

We are used to having our heads stuck in the details of how to build embedded systems, but normally we are doing that in order to make fundamental building blocks so that other people can create mbed Enabled platforms quickly. This project has been different, though: as well as our usual role as mbed, we’ve stepped to the other side of the silkscreen and worked with the BBC and partners to build and test the early prototypes of the BBC micro:bit hardware.


This is the first of a series of blog posts about how the micro:bit was put together, how it was built and tested, and what we’ve learned by eating our own dog food and putting ourselves in our partners’ shoes.

  • Part 1: Building the hardware – using the HDK and testing the early boards.
  • Part 2: Bringing up the software and supporting Lancaster University in building the micro:bit runtime.
  • Part 3: Development tools and the compile API.

BBC micro:bit is mbed Enabled

So how has mbed helped the BBC micro:bit project? Here’s a slide I presented at the first Hardware Working Group meeting as a proposal:


We thought that building micro:bit based on the mbed SDK and HDK would be great for the project; by using open source, deployed, tested components as a foundation, the idea of having something produced in enormous quantities within months of the ‘go’ date seemed less daunting.

Start with known working parts

One of the most time consuming parts of an embedded project can be the early “trust nothing” stage: when you can’t be sure whether your tools, your design, your test system or your own sanity is the reason something doesn’t work. By basing the BBC micro:bit on the mbed HDK it was possible for the other groups in the project to start working and testing with other (known good!) mbed Enabled boards, knowing that they would be able to switch over to the micro:bit when it was ready. Given the aggressive schedule, the partners working on the programming environments and smartphone apps needed something to work with while the boards were being designed and made.

On the hardware side, the BBC had done extensive trials in schools with earlier hardware that had LED matrices, and they knew they wanted to keep that feature – would we be able to drive all the LEDs directly from the nRF51822 without needing extra drivers? Could we scan the matrix fast enough and have the image look clear? Would the BLE radio interrupts give visual glitches on the ‘display’? For a quick answer, Lawrence (from upBeat Product Development) made some nice LED matrix boards, and we plugged them into a Nordic NRF51822 development kit, which uses the same chip as the micro:bit, and is a very similar board.

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It works!

Layout the HDK, any size will do

The next step was to take the HDK, add the micro:bit specific components and lay it out on a board with the LEDs so we could test in earnest. Chris, dusting off his Eagle gloves, took on this task. The resultant board, called ‘the square board’, had a run of 10, was not at all square, and didn’t work out of the box. Luckily, Marcelo is good with his soldering iron; in the picture below you can see the workaround for selecting the wrong USB connector part: desolder it and put the cables directly onto the board! This kind of mistake is easy to make when you’re picking up a new part or design, and it’s led us to think about how much we can provide alongside the HDKs - we’ve got some exciting plans to announce soon.

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The ‘square board’ was also the first place we tried driving the LED matrix with animations. Yes, that’s on a plane…

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Form factor prototypes and reducing the number of components

As the project progressed, it became clear we needed some form factor prototypes. This is the kind of task we’re usually one step removed from, but given the need for a quick turnaround, and the fact that Chris had already done the layout for ‘the square board’, he was the natural choice for ‘square board two’ (which I can report is also not square…). There are a few neat tricks in the micro:bit to save cost, such as using the on-chip regulator of the KL26 to regulate USB 5V to 3.3 for the Nordic chip. While I’m sure mbed users deploying the HDK regularly use these techniques, it’s been great seeing them up close, and that’s given us a chance to factor them back into the sources, hopefully saving our downstream developers time, money, and hassle. We also needed to check that the layout for the board could be done in the size desired, on a two-layer board.

Here’s Chris, proudly holding the first ‘SB2’ that came back from the board house. Answer: yes, it fits! I owe Chris at least one beer.


Sadly, as we’d spent a lot of the time with the first square board debugging the USB issues, we didn’t yet have a working port of the interface firmware. This meant that the new SB2 wasn’t easy to program. We were posting boards around to partners in the project, and we needed a way to program them…

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Luckily, it’s possible to use the Nordic –DK board as an external programmer for another nrf51. The experience is just like using mbed normally, but there’s not much documentation around this on mbed. We wanted to make the information available to other mbed developers – it’s a useful trick, and again, the kind of thing we don’t necessarily encounter day to day. The page here was our way of getting the useful information out, without tipping anyone off that BBC micro:bit was on its way. On the plus side, if you manage to brick your beacons, it’ll help you out, too.

The SB2 design is what we’ve handed over to Farnell for them to start the process of taking the board to manufacture in volume. Meanwhile, our focus has shifted to getting involved in the software work, porting the mbed SDK to the micro:bit board, and supporting the other partners building tools on top of the SDK; I’ll write much more about that in the second installment of this series of blog posts.

The BBC is doing something ambitious and ground-breaking by giving away a micro:bit to every year 7 pupil in the country, and it’s a privilege to be involved. We can’t wait to see what people start building with their micro:bits!

Below are some other photos from the hardware design stages that we hope might be of interest.

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One of the early planning sessions for our involvement in the BBC micro:bit project. Notice the ‘EEK’ on the right hand side.

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Don’t get your wires crossed! (Also, don’t draw diagrams like this. Top pin, top label; bottom pin, bottom label.)

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Boards, yet to be populated. These were the first boards with the excellent design from Technology Will Save Us. Colours are not final.

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Four generations of BBC micro:bit prototype, ready to do something amazing.