Coin Debuts Arduino-Based Bluetooth Low Energy Development Kit With iBeacons Potential


San Francisco-based startup Coin may not have launched yet, but it has created a hardware platform that others can use to build their own products in the process of developing its own. Today, Coin announced that it will offer up an Arduino Bluetooth Low Energy module that’s designed to be small and easy to integrate into hardware hacks and products of all kinds.

The $22 kit includes an Arduino-BLE board and 6-pin header that should be fairly broadly applicable for building Arduino-based hardware that can communicate with iOS devices. That means you’ll be able to talk to Apple’s new iBeacons service, which uses BLE to perform a number of functions, including ones that people normally associate with NFC like tap-based payments, in theory.

In developing its own product, Coin found that it was very challenging to find an easy way to integrate BLE into products in terms of figuring out wiring schematics, board layout, bulk manufacturing and coding to connect the chip to the Arduino processor to the iOS app itself. The Coin Arduino-BLE kit is designed to simply that by offering a pre-rolled solution, completely with open-source software that will go up on Github in December, which is when the boards should ship.

The applications are many: there are tons of devices like Tile that use BLE to serve lost-and-found functions, for instance, and increasingly health and fitness wearables employ the low power tech. Home automation devices like Nest could make use of it to become even more intelligent in terms of determining people’s proximity to in-home heating or lighting systems, and there’s security potential as well as ways to use it in ecommerce and in physical retail stores, like Estimote is doing.

All of that opportunity still requires that people build things to take advantage of the tech first, and that means either tackling the difficult process of putting it together on your own, or looking around for off-the-shelf solutions. Coin is among the first with such an offering, and one which covers both the hardware and software side, so they could stand to gain a lot from an early position of influence in what’s likely to be a booming market now that Apple is all-in on BLE.