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A real-life Star Trek communicator for $99 (via OnBeep)

OnBeep is a San Francisco start-up company that recently unveiled its Onyx communicator to technocrats in New York, sparking buzz. OnBeep is only one year old, but they raised $6.25 million in early 2014 to develop their Onyx device: something that lets you communicate with groups of people at the touch of a button.


The working, finished product was only unveiled early last month, but Business Insider, CNN, Forbes, and Wired already have something to say about it. The design is meant to be worn on any type of clothing, handbags, belts, or even put inside your pocket. The ease of talking at the push of a button was inspired by Star Trek, so your LARPing adventures can be fortified by this device for sure.


In practice, the Onyx seems like an expensive, stylish speaker phone in the style of a walkie-talkie. In terms of hardware and design, it basically is exactly that. But the co-founder, Jessie Robbins notes that it does more: it allows a group of people to work together and stay focused on the task at hand. Both Robbins, and the OnBeep CTO, Greg Albrecht, have experience in emergency situations as firefighters and EMTs. Hence, the Onyx really makes sense when you need to communicate real-time with a group of colleagues and can’t afford to waste time messing around with a phone.


The cool thing about the Onyx is that in thoeryit allows you to collaborate with anyone around the world. For now, radio frequency regulations mean that people outside the US can't technically buy the Onyx. Considering the amount of funding OnBeep has raised, it seems like a matter of time before the Onyx is available everywhere. The device can currently be pre-ordered for expected release in December 2014. The current cost of the Onyx is $99 which seems a bit steep for an extension of your smartphone, but I can see how it can be super helpful depending on your job environment.


I can certainly see businesses adopting this technology as a new part of team management: cutting the time and space between employees. Perhaps this is why so many business gurus are interested in the technology since it enables people to work together, real-time, outside of boring meetings.


The Onyx works by using Bluetooth to sync to your smartphone. In order to take advantage of Onyx's capabilities, you must download the OnBeep smartphone app which is currently available for iPhone and Android systems. The Onyx then takes advantage of wireless data/WiFi to contact your networks and stay connected. The app allows you to manage your groups, see who's available, and see where every member of your team is located – if you are worried that Tom forgot the dip, for instance.


You can talk to up to 15 people at once with the Onyx, and you can create as many groups as you like. The platform works regardless of network carrier, however it is only compatible with iPhone and Android at the moment.



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Hello Everyone!  Just trying to network a little bit, on my breaks...


So, my team has developed some cool products that are actually being utilized out there in the market.


  • EISS™ Virtual Top Node Server



  • EISSBox - OpenADR 2.0b Certified Virtual End Node


  • EISSClient Software Platform


  • EISSBox Data Logger (for Data Logging / Telemetry Endpoint)




If you're close to the Eatontown, NJ area, we're always looking for Embedded Systems and Raspberry Pi experience on our team - growing pretty fast!  We have some real neat stuff going on.  Definitely let me know if you're interested.


















This article was first issued on embedded beat (Freescale blogs)


A mixed environment system is one where a multicore system runs a combination of a real-time operating system and a feature-rich operating system.  It’s not a new concept, and there are many examples of products in the industry today, particularly in automotive and high-end industrial. These devices are feature-rich and highly user-interactive, but must respond quickly and reliably to system level events that are driving critical operation of the device.


After presenting earlier this month on the topic at ARM TechCon, I was energized to see the level of interest in heterogeneous processing for mixed environment use cases. What’s new is that the underlying hardware architecture for a mixed environment use case, if implemented correctly, can now be used to solve new design challenges like improving energy efficiency of devices that need to stay connected and provide continuous monitoring of environmental inputs. The device itself does not need to be in a high level state of operation because it is essentially just maintaining a network connection (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, others), processing sensor inputs and is not required to perform heavy processing. But the device must also be able to quickly elevate to a higher state of processing when needed.




What I talked about in my session was the challenge of implementing this type of heterogeneous architecture in a single-chip solution that also provides system flexibility without sacrificing system integrity. System flexibility means that both cores have the ability to access all peripherals and shared memory. This ultimately allows the system to be able to adapt to new application use cases. However, this type of shared bus topology means that both cores now have the ability to access all peripherals and shared memory in the system. So the architecture must provide a way to configure and enforce the safe sharing of system resources.


What is the ultimate benefit of this type of heterogeneous architecture?  A more energy-efficient, system-aware device that can also provide a feature-rich user experience and yet not sacrifice on real-time responsiveness.


Where does Freescale fit in?

Freescale is no stranger to multicore and heterogeneous processing, but earlier this year we announced that this architecture will be coming to the i.MX 6 series with the first applications processor to integrate an ARM® Cortex®- A9 core with an Cortex-M4 core in a single chip design. And, heterogeneous processing will bring new applications and new levels of scalability to the i.MX 6 series which already has a broad footprint and acceptance in the embedded market.

You can see more on the next generation of i.MX 6 series in this short informational video.  (Full product disclosure coming in Q1 2015.)


Amanda McGregor is a product marketer for i.MX applications processors.

This article was first published on embedded beat (Freescale blogs)


Some of the Kinetis MCUs are designed to provide industry-leading new technologies, others are optimized to solve specific problems, while others are just designed to appeal to the biggest number of engineers and please everyone.


What type of Kinetis MCU are you most like?


Take this short Kinetis MCU Personality Quiz to find out!


What type of Kinetis MCU are you.

Kathleen Jachimiak is a Kinetis MCU product marketer.

This article was first published on embedded beat (Freescale blogs)


It’s not just about performance and integration, the ARM Cortex-M4 based Kinetis K Series brings world class low-power modes and a comprehensive set of development tools and software, helping you save precious time and resources.


If you haven’t noticed, the Kinetis portfolio is vast – from general embedded, to ultra-low power, to a wide range of application specific MCUs.  As for the Kinetis K Series, we’ve honed in on general embedded applications.  Need USB? We’ve got that. Ethernet, Crypto? Yep. Graphic LCD? Ditto.  And there’s more.  Kinetis K devices range in flash size from 32KB to 2MB, up to 256KB of onboard SRAM and a broad range of peripheral combinations for measurement and control, connectivity and security.


Selector Guide


Here’s the family lineup:

K0x Entry-level MCUs
K1x Baseline MCUs
K3x Segment LCD MCUs
K4x USB & Segment LCD MCUs
K5x Measurement MCUs
K6x Ethernet Crypto MCUs
K7x Graphic LCD MCUs

How do you decide which device is best for your design with what seems like endless options?

We’ve helped make the selection process easier with the Kinetis K Selector Guide.

Try it out and let me know what you think.


Justin Mortimer is a Kinetis Product Owner

This article was first issued on Freescale embedded beat blogs ( by Kathleen Jachimiak, product marketing manager for Kinetis microcontrollers.



Remember playing with Rubik’s cubes back in t he 1980s? 2014 actually marks the 40th birthday of this 3D puzzle. It is a simple cube in which each side is made up of nine colored mini-cubes with an objective to somehow rotate it in exactly the correct way so that each side would be one solid color. They provide hours of fun, but are not always easy to figure out. I read online that with six colored sides, 21 pieces and 54 outer surfaces, there’s a combined total of over 43 quintillion different possible configurations. No wonder I failed to ever solve that thing on my own!


The thought of doing the next great engineering design can be equally daunting. And while Kinetis MCUs cannot help you solve the Rubik’s cube (unless of course you use some sort of cube-solving machine like the one shown here), Kinetis MCUs can help you solve today’s- and tomorrow’s- engineering design challenges with a broad portfolio of ARM®-based solutions. Though not quite a quintillion (yet), Freescale is offering close to 1,000 products for customers to choose from.


The Kinetis MCU portfolio is often referred to as the world’s broadest ARM® Cortex®-M-based portfolio. But, what makes a portfolio broad? And is that even a good thing?

A broad portfolio is about providing choices that span the technical limits in terms of low-end and high-end capabilities, and filling all of the gaps in between. It means offering solutions that can enable everything from a swallowable medical device to the electronics within a 5,000-pound truck. The Kinetis MCU portfolio has both general purpose and application-specific devices designed to do just that – meet the various needs of embedded designers while covering a breadth of options for performance, memory, package, integration and price.

General Purpose vs. Application-Specific Devices


The Kinetis MCU portfolio is most easily explained as six (and counting) series of general purpose and application-specific devices. General purpose series, like Kinetis K and Kinetis L series, reach the greatest number of customers, while application-specific series target vertical markets to provide specific integration and support. Within each series is a number of families that further divide the portfolio into various levels of integration and performance.


Kinetis K series MCUs were our first MCUs based on ARM Cortex-M cores and the industry’s first MCUs based on the ARM-Cortex-M4 core. As well, it is called the K series because that is how it all started – K for Kinetis. These devices are known for pushing high performance and various level of integration supporting the broadest range of customers.

Kinetis L series is our ultra- low power series and the industry’s first Cortex-M0+-based MCU. In fact, this series boasts the world’s most energy-efficient ARM-based MCU. It also holds the record as the world’s smallest ARM-based MCU, thanks to Freescale’s wafer-level chip-scale packaging (WLCSP) technology.

Kinetis E series MCUs are about supporting applications in electrically harsh conditions with high EMI and ESD thresholds. They are designed to maintain high robustness and reliability within electrically noisy environments. And in another first, Kinetis E series MCUs were the industry’s first 5V MCUs built on the ARM Cortex-M0+ processor.

Kinetis V series MCUs are designed for (vector) motor control and digital power conversion applications. This is the most recently introduced series for the Kinetis portfolio, launching in April 2014.

Kinetis M series MCUs are an application-specific series, targeted for metering and measurement applications.

Kinetis W series MCUs are for wireless applications. These Kinetis MCUs are with integrated radio transceivers for 802.15.4 2.4GHz and sub 1-GHz wireless communications.

Scalability and Compatibility: The Secret to Success
It’s not enough to have a lot of parts. To a designer looking for a specific solution, the fact that we have 999 other options is not all that interesting to him/her. The secret to making a broad portfolio successful is scalability and compatibility, and Kinetis MCUs offer both. Providing both pin-to-pin and software compatible options is key for customers wishing to scale up and down the portfolio to address various market segments and tiers of products within those segments. Additionally, Kinetis customers are able to reach faster time to market with common software and hardware tools.


Get more info on the Kinetis MCU portfolio @


Kathleen Jachimiak is a product marketing manager for Kinetis microcontrollers.

This article was first published on Embedded Beat (oct. 2014) by Donnie Garcia, Freescale Kinetis New Products Team




I don’t have a home security system, but my second hand experience from family and friends is that they can be a real hassle. In addition to the cost of the system and having it physically installed, there are constant headaches with remembering to set the alarm, false alarms, and having to remember yet another password. When deciding to bring such a device into the home, home owners must balance cost and inconvenience with the benefits of peace of mind and crime deterrence. In the embedded world, as more “Things” get connected, a similar choice has to be made: accessibility via connectivity has opened up a new range of “Things” which are vulnerable to attacks. Embedded developers of home automation nodes, energy metering and payment solutions all have to deal with numerous and aggressive threats.


Protecting embedded assets is not a new problem, and for Freescale, a semiconductor company who can provide a solution for virtually all points within the Internet of Things (IoT) continuum, there is a strong legacy of excellence in security. As a Kinetis MCU product marketer, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with security experts from across the company who work on our numerous product lines to ensure that the best possible security is being implemented in our embedded solutions. Kinetis MCUs contain features to help improve reliance of end applications and have a type of embedded trust architecture that can be used to provide security in the age of increasing connectedness.

Kinetis devices provide an advantage that most other higher end applications processors do not typically have. Kinetis MCUs are architected to only boot up from internal memory.  This protects against the threat of hijacking an embedded application by changing an external memory device.

In addition, Kinetis devices have several levels of embedded protection that can be selected using non-volatile control bits. The protection, when enabled, restricts access to all internal resources (Flash, SRAM and peripheral registers) from the debug port. As well, to facilitate a safe firmware update via a serial peripheral, Kinetis devices have a 64-bit key, which can be set so that only authorized firmware updates are allowed.


The highest levels of Kinetis security can also lock the embedded memory by disabling Flash erase capabilities, forever locking the application code in the end device. This security level creates a secure ‘Read Only Memory’ version of the embedded application, essentially avoiding the threat of cloning of a device.

Some Kinetis devices have an additional external memory interface (for SRAM or NOR Flash). On these devices, when security is enabled, the attributes of this external memory are controlled by system level configuration bits. So, even in higher end embedded applications which rely on external memory expansion, the reliable Kinetis MCU security architecture has the capability of restricting execution from the external memory to protect against attacks.

Many Kinetis devices also contain a system level Memory Protection Unit (MPU). This peripheral can be used to define memory spaces with certain access rights, creating another layer of system checking to ensure that the execution of firmware is controlled.


Besides the standard features mentioned above, cryptographic acceleration hardware is available on a number of Kinetis sub-families. This hardware, which is enabled by a library, greatly speeds up cryptographic algorithms that can be used in firmware updates or in the protection of data as it passes from device to device.

On a sub-set of Kinetis devices there are advanced anti-tamper capabilities. The features of this peripheral include a tamper protected memory space for a master key. The security of a system depends on keeping the master key a secret. The tamper protected memory space is automatically erased if a tamper event is detected. This erasure of the master key happens without any software intervention, and so can be depended upon to protect the most sensitive data. Tamper events are not only physical attacks, and so the advanced security peripheral also protects against temperature, voltage or clock speed attacks.


One of the newest features on the Kinetis devices is the Flash Access Control (FAC). This feature was made to support the growing need of protection of software intellectual property (for example, proprietary sensor algorithms, or connectivity stacks). The FAC allows the use of software libraries while not allowing them to be read or downloaded from the device. This feature works in conjunction with the embedded security levels of the Kinetis MCUs to provide developers a platform to use to promote their innovations in a safe and reliable way. Being able to protect software property will be a key enabler to the propagation of embedded technology expected by the Internet of Things.

What will the future bring in regards to embedded security features? To support the expansion of Kinetis edge nodes, more advanced encryption acceleration and new algorithms are on the roadmap.


Finally, as a product definer, I am always looking for new requirements. What aspect of embedded security threat are you concerned with? Leave a comment.


Donnie Garcia is on the Kinetis New Products Team

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