The BecDot is an Arduino-based Braille teaching tool for children

While instruments are available for those with visual impairment to read electronic media, they can be quite expensive, costing over $ 1,000. This is good for adults, but something more kid-friendly (and possibly replaceable) is needed to open up this world to those just learning.

For this purpose, Jacob Lacourse, whose daughter Rebecca was born with Usher Syndrome, developed the BecDot educational toy.

The device–which is now in a prototype form–senses when a plastic object (a letter block, a plastic animal, etc.) is placed in the reader via preprogrammed NFC tags, then raises the corresponding dots on four Braille pads. The prototype uses an Arduino Uno for control, and a system that he developed to raise the Braille dots as needed.

I incorporated an NFC reader (Adafruit PN532) into the device.  The idea was that the reader would read a preprogrammed tag that a parent, caregiver or educator could place on a toy such as a letter block, a plastic dog, cow, goat, etc. When the child places the toy in the reader the device will display the braille equivalent of the object on the four cells.  Of course lights and sounds would also come later in the development of the device.

Lacourse hopes to one day bring the BecDot to market for under $ 100. Until then, you can check it out in the video below and read more about this amazing project here!

Arduino Blog

Arduino announces Arm partnership

Dear Arduino Community,

Back in July, we announced that the original Arduino founders regained full control of Arduino as a company. It was the culmination of a project that lasted several months, which required a tremendous amount of effort in finding the right partner that could help us make it happen while keeping the spirit of Arduino true to itself.

Throughout the litigation we dreamed of reclaiming control of the company, bringing it back to its original principles while designing a strategy that would allow us to tackle the challenges of the contemporary IoT world.

In order to make his a reality, we needed a partner that would provide us with the resources to regain full ownership of Arduino as a company while keeping it independent and true to its values of openness.

It wasn’t easy, but more than a year ago, in the middle of the litigation, we started a conversation with an important technology company that is an essential building block of today’s digital world: Arm.

During a very hot day in spring I visited California to meet with Arm. It was a great meeting of minds and we determined that such a partnership was the right fit for us. Arm is an extremely innovative company whose processors can be found inside virtually every mobile device on the planet; but they don’t actually build silicon. Instead, they have created an ecosystem of a thousand-plus partners, some of whom compete with each other, but Arm works in harmony with all of them.

Arm recognized independence as a core value of Arduino. This was very important for us, as it meant full understanding of our need to work with multiple silicon vendors and architectures as long as they make sense for Arduino—without any lock-in with the Arm architecture.

Following the meeting with Arm, I was thrilled. I shared my excitement with our new CEO Fabio Violante and my cofounders: Arduino could again be 100% ours, with the help of a supportive partner that leaves complete autonomy to our team and our community.

We worked very hard for many months to make this happen, and Arm graciously agreed to support us to complete the operation.

What should you expect from us in the future? A stronger Arduino, free to innovate with more firepower, and plenty of enthusiasm for future challenges and opportunities.

We will continue to work with all technology vendors and architectures moving forward. We stay independent; we stay open, and we still provide the most loved microcontroller development platform that has changed the lives of so many people around the world.

Arduino Blog

12-year-old maker creates his own Flappy Bird console

12-year-old Savva Osipov has grown so far up hearing tales of the old Soviet Union from his father, including about the gadgets and technology that was then available. One particular device that caught his attention is the “Nu, pogodi!” portable game that his dad saved from that time. This inspired him to build another simple handheld, a Flappy Bird console, running on an Arduino Nano.

The project’s software is based on code by Themistokle Benetatos, and he designed and 3D-printed a custom case to tie all the necessary game elements (Arduino, screen, battery, speaker, button, etc.) together.

As shown in the video below, it looks like a lot of fun. If you want to create your own, you can find more details in his write-up here!

Arduino Blog

Creating moving, wirelessly-controlled train LED displays with Arduino

In order to make his model trains stand out, David G. Bodnar has been working on the best way to integrate 8×8 displays into the cars.

Through the process he’s come up with several great techniques, including a red filter to help them “pop,” as well as wiring things in such a way that sets of LEDs can be used on either side to show the same message.

An Arduino Pro Mini and Nano are used for control, while a Bluetooth module with an Android terminal program enables him to change the text remotely.

I have used LED matrix displays for a number of different projects over the last few years.  These 8×8 LED units have a controller that allows an Arduino to talk to them sending text or graphic information that can be displayed.  These small units can be daisy-chained together to create a long, scrolling display.

While the displays are visually appealing and easy to use they might not get the amount of attention that one would hope they would generate at a train show or other public train display. With this in mind I decided to build an on-board train display using three 8×32 LED boards. Each board is mounted on a car with the three connected together to crate one long scrolling message board. To make things even more interesting and compelling to visitors the display’s message can be changed remotely with a cell phone or computer.

Whether you’re interested in enhancing model trains, or simply want to hear more about integrating LED matrix displays into your next project, you can find more details on Instructables and on his website here.

Arduino Blog

ASK.ME is an interactive Magic 8 Ball that you can walk into

What goes on inside of a Magic 8 Ball when you ask it a question and shake? Sure, as an adult you might guess that it’s some sort of fluid and a geometric shape that floats to the surface; but if you envision it though the mind of a child, there could be an entire colorful word that computes, queries a database, or even magically ascertains the answer.

ASK.ME is an Arduino-controlled installation by Joan Raspo that brings this imaginary world to life as a geodesic dome that you can walk into. As a visitor enters inside, their presence is detected and they are greeted with a holographic image that invites them to ask a question.

After pushing a button, ASK.ME allows you time to inquire whatever you have on your mind, then comes back with the response. The dome itself is lined in mirrors, along with a reflective floor and blue fiber optic lighting, creating an immersive interactive experience.

Once activated, the “ASK.ME” hologram changes and presents the visitor with a hologram, linked to audio, asking the visitor “What is Ur question?” Next, a hologram that says “It’s loading” gives the visitor time to ask their question and in ten seconds a holographic answer and audio appears. This gives the visitor the experience of “talking” to a seer—making it seem very human.

You can find more details on the amazing project here, or watch Raspo’s demo below!

Arduino Blog