Today we’re announcing our new open-source wearable electronics platform and series of accessories. We rarely announce something until it’s shipping to customers, but you’ll see a lot of these out in the world from our testers as they show off some projects – so we wanted to post about this now.
For the last few years Ladyada has been thinking about everything she wanted in a wearable electronics platform for Adafruit’s community of makers, hackers, crafters, artists, designers and engineers. After months of planning, designing and working with partners around the world for the best materials and accessories, we can share what we’re up to. The hardware is now in the hands of our staff and testers!
We call it the FLORA.
Adafruit created the FLORA from scratch after many months of research and we really think we came up with something that will empower some amazing wearable projects.
The FLORA is not the first wearable Arduino / Arduino-compatible. Leah Buechley’s LilyPad was developed in 2007 – we wanted to also make something that’s wearable, but it needed to be a completely new platform for our accessories/modules and goals for the project.
We’ll have updates and more big news soon in the wearable electronics space, so please stay tuned to the Adafruit blog. We have a product page you can sign up for soon, you can sign up to be notified when we have the first round of units ready. As always we’ll have great pricing for educators, resellers and hackerspaces.
We’ve put together a list of features/decisions that we hope will answer many of the questions about the FLORA. Please feel free to post up any questions in the comments. There may be some minor revisions to the hardware since we are in beta and working with our testers in the field. We wanted to share our thought/design process, we hope it helps others when designing hardware.
The FLORA FAQ
The FLORA is small (1.75″ diameter). We wanted the smallest possible board for our wearable platform.
It’s based on our experiences shipping our own, shipping, customer-tested Atmega32u4 Breakout Board.
The FLORA comes with projects at launch, the FLORA addressable and chain-able 4,000 mcd RGB LED pixels and premium stainless steel thread.
Here’s a quick video! (HD version).
The FLORA has built-in USB support. Built in USB means you plug it in to program it, it just shows up. No additional purchases are needed! Works with Mac, Windows, Linux, any USB cable works great. Currently the PCB comes with a mini B connector but future versions may change to microUSB. Either will work great.
The FLORA has USB HID support, so it can act like a mouse, keyboard, MIDI, etc. to attach directly to cellphones. Our iPhone/iPad/Android app coming soon.
The FLORA’s modules include: Bluetooth, GPS, 3-axis accelerometer, compass module, flex sensor, piezo, IR LED, push button, embroidered + capacitive keypad, OLED and more.
The FLORA has a small but easy to use onboard reset button to reboot the system.
The FLORA is fabric friendly. The FLORA does not use FTDI headers (built in USB support) headers of any kind sticking out can grab and tear fabric.
The FLORA has an onboard 3.3v 100mA regulator with protection schottky diode and USB fuse so that power is consistent and can power common 3.3v modules and sensors.
The FLORA has onboard polarized 2 JST battery connector with protection schottky diode for use with external battery packs from 3.5v to 16v DC in. Can be used with LiIon/LiPoly, LiFe, alkaline or rechargeable NiMh/NiCad batteries of any size.
The FLORA does not have a LiPo charger included by design, this allows safe use with multiple battery types and reduces risk of fire as it is not recommended to charge these batteries on fabric.
The FLORA has onboard power switch connected to 2A power FET for safe and efficient battery on/off control. Often FETs are not included in other designs that leads to switch failure as small SMT switches are rated for only 20mA current use.
The FLORA power system is specifically designed to allow easy control and power of a large quantity of digital RGB LED pixels such as the FLORA pixel series of accessories.
The FLORA is extremely beginner-friendly – it is difficult to destroy the FLORA by connecting a battery backwards due to polarized connector and protection diodes. The onboard regulator means that even connecting a 9V battery will not result in damage or tears.
The FLORA has 4 indicator LEDs: power good, digital signal LED for bootloader feedback, data rx/tx.
The FLORA has an ICSP connector for easy reprograming for advanced users.
The FLORA has 14 sewing tap pads for attachment and electrical connections. Data buses are interleaved with power and ground pads for easy module and sensor attachments without worrying about overlapping traces which are not possible with conductive thread.
The FLORA works with the Adafruit-fixed Leonardo bootloader (not released) and will work with any future released Leonardo-compatible bootloader. FLORA is currently using our Adafruit bootloader and Adafruit USB vendor ID.
The FLORA comes with Adafruit’s support, tutorials and projects. Adafruit has dozens of projects that will be released with the FLORA in 2012 and has staff 100% dedicated to creating tutorials and projects for use with the FLORA.
The FLORA is made in NYC at Adafruit, it was designed by Limor Fried (Ladyada) she is an Electrical Engineer with a proven track record of providing over 26 high-quality libraries for Arduino/Arduino IDE, over 100 tutorials, open-source code and contributions to the Arduino project. She was a member of the MIT wearables group and likes to sew.
We hope you’ll be as excited about FLORA as we are. Post any questions in the comments! We’ll stop back throughout the day to answer them!