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Intel's $30 Arduino 101 board lets you make wearables and robots at home

For $30, Intel's Arduino 101 board provides an easy path for makers to build a wearable computer, a mini-robot or a smart appliance for the home.

The tiny board, which went on sale this week, fits in the palm of your hand and includes Intel's button-sized Curie wireless compute module. Intel wowed the audience with Curie-powered devices at CES, including a pair of speech-enabled sunglasses from Oakley that coach athletes by talking in their ear.

The Arduino board has wireless circuitry, sensors and expansion ports, and is now available from Mouser Electronics. 

This is the first developer board with Curie, which was announced a year ago at CES. But the best Curie demonstrations were at this year's show.

The chip was fitted to BMX bikes and snowboards to provide real-time information like the height and distance of jumps. And an artist on stage painted a giant virtual canvas using Curie-enabled controllers.

At CES, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Curie chip modules would ship in volume this quarter priced below $10. Commercial products with Curie are expected to appear starting in the second half this year, an Intel spokeswoman said.

Arduino 101 is for makers to create, test and prototype Curie products at home. The board has a low-power Quark chip, Bluetooth wireless, accelerometer and gyrometer. It also has a pattern recognition engine, and software packages called IQs will be available to analyze data. For example, a health IQ can analyze a person's steps and heart rate.

A USB hub helps the board interface with Windows, Linux or Mac computers. The board is compatible with the latest Arduino 1.6.7 IDE, on which simple programs for the board can be written.

A real-time OS is being developed for the Arduino 101 and will be open-sourced in 2016, according to the company Arduino, which helped Intel develop the board.

Last year, Intel planned another button-sized circuit board with Curie, but has backed off those plans.

The Arduino 101 board is open-source, and its schematics have been shared by Intel, so it should be possible to create custom Curie circuit boards. 

The board will be known in some countries as Genuino 101. It's Intel's third development board for makers after MinnowBoard, Galileo and Edison.

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