Smell Colors With A Synesthesia Mask

Synesthesia is a mix-up of sensory perception where stimulation of one sense leads to a stimulation of a second sense. This is the condition where Wednesdays can be blue, the best part of your favorite song can be orange, and six can be up and to the right of seventy-three. While you can’t teach yourself synesthesia – it’s something you’re born with – [Zachary] decided to emulate color to smell synesthesia with his most recent electronics project.

For his synesthesia mask, [Zach] is turning varying amounts of red, green, and blue found with a color sensor into scents. He’s doing this with an off-the-shelf color sensor, an Intel Edison, and a few servos and test tubes filled with essential oils. The color sensor is mounted on a ring, allowing [Zach] to pick which colors he wants to smell, and the scent helmet contains a small electronics box fitted with fans to blow the scent into his face.

There’s more than one type of synesthesia, and if you’re looking for something a little more painful, you can make objects feel loud with a tiny webcam that converts pixels into pulses of a small vibration motor.

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An Intel Atom CPU In The Raspi Form Factor

For years now, people have been trying to stuff an Intel processor on a credit card sized board. An x86 board that can fit in your pocket is an intriguing device – after all, that’s what Gumstix, the forerunner of the Raspberry Pi, were. Efforts to put x86 on a dev board have included the Minnowboard, the Intel Galileo and Edison, and even the Intel Compute Stick. These have not seen the uptake you would expect from a small x86-powered board, but that tide may soon turn. The UP board is exactly what you would expect from a Raspberry Pi-inspired board with a real Intel processor.

The feature set for the UP board is impressive for a credit card sized board; it’s powered by a quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8300 CPU running at 1.84 GHz. The board comes equipped with 1GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC Flash, Gigabit Ethernet, five USB 2.0 ports (one on a pin header) and one USB 3.0 port. Up also includes a real-time clock, HDMI, the same 40-pin GPIO pin connector found in the Raspberry Pi Model B Plus, and DSI and CSI connectors for the Raspberry Pi camera and touch screen.

To be fair to all the previous attempts at making a board built around an x86 chip that borrows heavily from the Raspberry Pi, there haven’t been many chips out there that have been suitable for credit card-sized applications. Only in the last year or so has Intel released chips suitable for an x86 single board computer, and the growing market of Windows 10 tablets bears this out. While it remains to be seen if the UP board will be a success, more than a few people will pick one of these up for a miniature Skype box.

Intel and Arduino Introduce Curie-Based Educational Board

This week, Intel and Arduino are releasing their first product pushed directly on the education market, the Arduino/Genuino 101 board powered by the Intel Curie module.

The Intel Curie Module

genuino101The Arduino/Genuino 101 is the first development platform for the Intel Curie modules which are a recent development from Intel’s Maker and Innovator group. The button-sized Curie is a single package encapsulating microcontroller, Bluetooth, a 6-DOF IMU, and battery charging circuitry; the requisite hardware for anything marketed as a ‘wearable’. The Curie’s brain is a 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller with 384kB of Flash 80kB SRAM, giving it about the same storage and RAM as a low-end ARM Cortex microcontroller.

Called a module, it needs a carrier board to interface with this hardware. This is where the Arduino/Genuino 101 comes in. This board – the third such collaboration between Intel and Arduino – provides the same form factor and pinout found in the most popular Arduino offering. While the Curie-based Arduino/Genuino 101 is not replacing the extraordinarily popular Arduino Uno and Leonardo, it is going after the same market – educators and makers – at a similar price, $30 USD or €27. For the same price as an Arduino Uno, the Arduino/Genuino 101 offers Bluetooth, an IMU, and strangely the same USB standard-B receptacle.

Intel has further plans in store for the Curie module; In 2016, Intel, [Mark Burnett] of reality television fame, and United Artists Media group will produce America’s Greatest Makers, a reality show featuring makers developing wearable electronics on TV. No, it’s not Junkyard Wars, but until the MacGyver reboot airs, it’s the closest we’re going to get to people building stuff on TV.

Intel’s Prior Arduino Offerings

In 2013, Intel and Arduino introduced the Galileo board, a dev board packed with I/Os, Ethernet, PCIe, and an Intel instruction set. This was a massive move away from all ARM, AVR, or PIC dev boards made in recent years, and marked Intel’s first foray into the world of education, making, and an Internet of Things. In 2014, Intel and Arduino released the Edison, a tiny, tiny board designed for the embedded market and entrepreneurs.

Intel CurieThe Arduino 101 and Genuino 101 – different names for the same thing and the first great expression of’s troubles with trademarks and the Arduino vs Arduino war – are targeted specifically at the ‘maker’ market, however ephemeral and hard to define that is. The form of the Arduino 101 follows directly in the footsteps of the Arduino Uno and Leonardo; The 101 has the same footprint, the same pinout, a single USB port as the Leonardo.

Being the ‘maker market Arduino’, this board is designed to bring technology to the classroom. In a conference earlier this week, [Massimo] framed the Arduino 101 as the educational intersection between technology, coding, art, and design. Students who would not otherwise learn microcontroller development will learn to program an Arduino for art and design projects. The Arduino/Genuino 101 is the board that puts the STEAM in STEM education.

Where the Curie is Going

Intel has big plans for the Curie module, with a few products in the works already. The Intel Edison has made its way into consumer electronics and wearables, including an electronic ski coach that will tell you when to pizza and when to french fry. The Curie will be available independently of the Arduino/Genuino 101, with both products being released in early 2016.

Win an Internship at CERN Openlab

Have you ever wanted to visit CERN, or maybe even work there? Well guess what — one of the prizes for the Intel Modern Code Developer Challenge 2015 is a trip to CERN — and another one for a 9 week internship there!

The CERN and Intel sponsored competition is looking for a bright young developer (you must be a student) to improve the performance of the code used to simulate brains — specifically to simulate the growth of cells in the cerebral cortex. It’s called the Human Green Brain Project.

In this Challenge, you’ll be working with this code to improve its runtime performance, so researchers can make life-changing scientific breakthroughs faster.  Download the code, optimize it, and submit it to the Challenge.  The students who submit the fastest optimized code will win the prizes and help accelerate science – that could be you!

Improve it, and you’re literally accelerating science and research discovery. Oh — and you’ll get a chance to visit or work at the CERN OpenLab. What are you waiting for? Go enter!

[Thanks for the tip David!]

Hackaday Links: September 20, 2015

Here’s an offer from Intel and the guy behind all of reality TV [Mark Burnett]: win a million dollars for making something. Pitch an idea for wearable electronics to the producers by October 2, and you might be on a reality TV show about building electronics which they’re calling America’s Greatest Makers. With this, Intel is promoting the Curie module a tiny, tiny SoC with Bluetooth, IMU, and DSP functions. We’re of the opinion that a Hackaday reader should win this contest, or at the very least be featured prominently in the show. No, it’s not Junkyard Wars, but it’s still a million dollar prize.

[Jeremy] builds bombs clocks, and he has a Kickstarter for an interesting Nixie clock. Most Nixie tubes have digits, but [Jeremy] is using the IN-9 ‘bar’ tubes for the hour and minute hand.

The Luka EV is a semifinalist for the Hackaday Prize, and a completely open, road legal electric vehicle powered by hub motors. It also looks really, really cool.  Now, they’re selling them. It’s €20,000 for a complete car. Did I mention how cool it looks?

Boca Bearings is having a ‘Show Us Your Workshop’ contest, with the best (or should it be worst?) workshop winning tool cabinets, tool kits, a work mat, and calipers.

The EMU Drumulator is a classic drum machine that featured dirty 12-bit drum sounds in ROM. Now, it’s a single chip thanks to [Jan]. He’s done a lot of great work putting synths in single chips, and it’s great to see him move on to classic drum machines.

Offered without comment, here’s a ride through a PCB.

Teardown of Intel RealSense Gesture Camera Reveals Projector Details

[Chipworks] has just released the details on their latest teardown on an Intel RealSense gesture camera that was built into a Lenovo laptop. Teardowns are always interesting (and we suspect that [Chipworks] can’t eat breakfast without tearing it down), but this one reveals some fascinating details on how you build a projector into a module that fits into a laptop bezel. While most structured light projectors use a single, static pattern projected through a mask, this one uses a real projection mechanism to send different patterns that help the device detect gestures faster, all in a mechanism that is thinner than a poker chip.

mechanism1It does this by using an impressive miniaturized projector made of three tiny components: an IR laser, a line lens and a resonant micromirror. The line lens takes the point of light from the IR laser and turns it into a flat horizontal line. This is then bounced off the resonant micromirror, which is twisted by an electrical signal. This micromirror is moved by a torsional drive system, where an electrostatic signal twists the mirror, which is manufactured in a single piece. The system is described in more detail in this PDF of a presentation by the makers, ST Micro. This combination of lens and rapidly moving mirrors creates a pattern of light that is projected, and the reflection is detected by the IR camera on the other side of the module, which is used to create a 3D model that can be used to detect gestures, faces, and other objects. It’s a neat insight into how you can miniaturize things by approaching them in a different way.

Intel Buys Altera For $16.7 Billion

Intel, CPU manufacturer we all know and love, will buy Altera, makers of fine FPGAs, for $16.7 Billion.

While most of the news about this deal focuses on the future of FPGAs in the datacenter, getting Altera IP into Intel fab houses is equally interesting. Intel is the current king of putting transistors on a piece of silicon, and Intel’s ability to put a massive amount of transistors on a chip means FPGAs will become even more capable – more gates, more blocks, and more memory. The most capable Altera FPGAs are being made with a 28nm process; Intel could theoretically double the number of gates with the 14nm process used on the new Broadwell CPUs. There is most likely someone at Xilinx tearing their hair out right now, chain-smoking next to a pot of coffee.

News of this buy out comes about a week after Avago bought Broadcom in the biggest semiconductor deal ever, and a few months after NXP and Freescale merged. Cash Rules Everything Around Semiconductors, it seems.