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Open source microcontroller for IoT

Pulpino logoThe Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and Italy’s Bologna University have jointly developed a microcontroller called PULPino (for “parallel ultra-low power”) and are making it available as open source hardware, Switzerland’s ICT Journal reports. According to ETH’s Professor Luca Benini, who managed the project: “It will henceforth be possible to build open source hardware starting from nothing.” He added: “In several recent examples of open source equipment, use is limited by exclusive marketing rights and non-competition clauses. Our system is not linked to any condition in licensing terms.”

Micrograph of Pulp v3 microcontroller
Micrograph of Pulp v3 microcontroller

This new microcontroller has been designed for battery-powered equipment with a very low power consumption, meaning it could be used for Internet of Things devices, smart watches, medical sensors or for home automation. Luca Benini gives the example of a smart watch developed in his laboratory which could be capable of determining the user’s location by analysing the visual data from the watch’s camera.

Thanks to personal contacts, Prof. Benini has been able to ensure that the microcontroller has already been used in other research projects in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe. However, each time he has needed to negotiate licensing agreements. He is optimistic for Pulpino’s future and reckons that the processor will increase its distribution still further now it has been released as open source hardware: “Pulpino is now very easily available. We hope there will be more collaborative projects in the future and that these are likewise easier.”