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Adafruit FLORA Arduino Compatible Wearable Electronics Platform

Adafruit FLORA
Adafruit FLORA

For the last few years Limor Fried (aka “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, the FLORA wearable platform was created.

The FLORA is small (1.75″ diameter, weighing 4.4 grams). Adafruits wanted the smallest possible board for their wearable platform. The FLORA family also includes the perfect complement of accessories to the mainboard – stainless steel threading, sensors, GPS modules and chainable LED displays.

The FLORA has built-in USB support – you plug it in to program it and it just shows up. All that is required is a USB cable, and it works with Mac, Windows or Linux systems. Currently the PCB comes with a mini B connector but future versions may change to microUSB. The FLORA has USB HID support, so it can act like a mouse, keyboard, MIDI, etc. to attach directly to cellphones.

The FLORA has a small but easily accessible reset button to reboot the system. The power supply is designed to be flexible and easy to use. There is an onboard polarized 2 JST battery connector with protection Schottky diode for use with external battery packs from 3.5v to 16v DC. It can be used with pretty much every common battery type – LiIon, LiPoly, LiFe, Alkaline or rechargeable NiMh/NiCad 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 has an onboard 3.3v 100mA regulator with protection diode and USB fuse so that power is consistent and can power common 3.3v modules and sensors.

Adafruit  spent a lot of time on the power supply because 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 fabric friendly. The FLORA does not use FTDI headers headers of any kind sticking out, that can grab and tear fabric.

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 on-board regulator means that even connecting a 9V battery will not result in damage or circuit overload.

The FLORA has 4 indicator LEDs: power good, digital signal LED for bootloader feedback, data transmit, data receive. Also onboard is an ICSP connector for easy reprogramming.

There are 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-like bootloader and will work with any future released Leonardo-compatible bootloader. FLORA is currently using a proprietary 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 2013 and the development and support staff is 100% dedicated to creating tutorials and projects for use with the FLORA.

The FLORA is not the first wearable Arduino or Arduino-compatible device. Leah Buechley’s Lilypad was developed in 2007. Team FLORA wanted to also make something that’s wearable, but it needed to be a completely new platform for a new platform of accessories and modules.

For more information on Adafruit and the plethora of projects, boards and tutorials, please visit the ” Adafruit Learning System ” site.

(Image Credit -Adafruit )

(Video Credit -Adafruit)

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