Punch Through, a hardware and software development firm making it easier to develop Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) products, announced the launch of the Bean+, the newest member of the company’s LightBlue BLE ecosystem. Bean+ is an Arduino compatible board that you program wirelessly using Bluetooth Low Energy. It is the easiest way to get started with Bluetooth Low Energy and create smartphone-controlled Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Smaller than a credit card, with a built-in rechargeable battery, accelerometer, temperature sensor and RGB LED, Punch Through’s Bean+ allows hobbyists, developers and prototypers to quickly build smartphone-controlled devices. Programmed wirelessly from iOS, OS X, Windows and Android, the versatile and low-cost Bean+ makes building a smartphone-controlled project as easy as downloading an app.
To jumpstart projects, Bean+ arrives to users with four new pre-programmed profiles: MIDI profile support allows the Bean+ to send and receive MIDI data, lets users design musical input and output devices. A second profile, HID, enables the Bean+ to be used as a wireless mouse or keyboard with smartphones, tablets and computers. Receiving notifications from your iOS device is now possible with the addition of the ANCS profile. Lastly, peer-to-peer communication is now possible with the addition of the Observer role, allowing the Bean+ to talk to other Bean+ projects, as well as listen to other BLE devices nearby.
The Bean+ will coexist with the original Bean, allowing creators to choose the features and price point that best meet their needs.
“Bean+ is bigger, better and bolder – a Bluetooth Low Energy board that combines power with simplicity, making it easier than ever to create smartphone-controlled projects that are fun, meaningful and can even be used as the building block for commercial products,” said Colin Karpfinger, founder and CEO of Punch Through. “With the new release, the Bean+ is the most fully-featured Arduino-compatible board on the market today, which you can see in the community and ecosystem evolving around it.”
The Bean+ is the company’s first to include both header and Grove connectors, allowing users to prototype without soldering. This feature opens up project creation to a wider audience and positions Bean+ for educational use, providing instructors with a state-of-the-art reusable Arduino-compatible board for multi-level learning environments that lets novice users start creating immediately – Bean+ projects can be reconfigured quickly by students or teachers as needed.
Bean+ features include:
- Header and Grove connectors for quicker, easier project development
- A massive increase in Bluetooth signal range, up to 400 meters – a 2-5x increase, depending on environment
- Rechargeable LiPo (lithium-ion polymer) battery with micro USB connector, running up to a year per charge -- a 15x increase over the original Bean
- Four new Bluetooth profiles that include:
- MIDI: With the MIDI profile, the Bean+ can send and receive MIDI data and be used as an instrument with apps like GarageBandTM
- ANCS: Receive notifications from iOS devices to the Bean+ using ANCS, allowing users to write sketches to blink a LED when a certain friend texts or ring a bell when their Uber arrives
- HID: Use the Bean+ as a wireless mouse or keyboard input with HID. Works with smartphones, tablets and computers
- Observer role: Enable Bean+ to Bean+ communication for advertising and other uses, sending simple packets of info or listening for other BLE devices
- Redesigned form factor
- Wireless programming and control from mobile device or laptop
- Ability to wirelessly read and log the on-board accelerometer, temperature and LED status
- BLE serial communication
- Easy configuration as a Beacon
- BLE pairing pin for security protection
- Access to firmware version, Arduino power state, battery level and on-board sketch
- Cross platform app SDK
- Firmware API with cloud firmware updates
Since the original Bean launched there has been a thriving ecosystem of compatible software, which will also be compatible with the Bean+. The Bean+ is supported by IBM’s Node-RED project, allowing for visual programming and easy connection of Beans to the cloud. Also supported is Citrix System’s Octoblu, a cloud-hosted software platform for managing machine-to-machine interactions.
The LightBlue platform also serves as a cost-effective and efficient foundation by professional developers to speed creation and time to market for products that leverage mobile and the web. Utilizing the LightBlue ecosystem, innovative startups and Fortune 500 companies can re-use Bean functionality in their own products with a custom form factor and price optimized for production quantities.
Availability and Pricing
Bean+ is initially available via Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1966384672/a-bluetooth-arduino-for-the-mobile-age-lightblue-b and supporters will have first access to the powerful new board with a discounted price of $39. This launch follows the company’s successful model surrounding the roll out of the original Bean, providing early adopters with price and “first in line” benefits via Kickstarter support. Bean+ will be available directly from Punch Through and online retailers following the Kickstarter program for a suggested MSRP of $45.
For more information on the Bean+ and the entire LightBlue ecosystem, visit Punch Through’s website, Facebook page or follow the company on Twitter.