Let's Make a Smart Watch! with Intel Edison

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Let's Make a Smart Watch! with Intel Edison

Learn how to build your own watch using the Intel Edison kit.

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Introduction to Intel Edison

The compute module of Intel, named Intel Edison is slightly larger than an SD card. After playing around with Edison extensively I am completely in love with this tiny computer. The specialty of Edison is that it can be used for wearables and it is powerful enough to control robots. It is a 35.5 × 25.0 × 3.9 mm module equipped with Yocto, a Linux OS. It has an onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, perfect for IoT projects. We can connect to Edison remotely and run commands or access the file system. This gives lots of flexibility to developers via SSH. It's specs will definitely impress you, they are:



Intel® Atom™ Processor clocked at 500MHz
100MHz Quark MCU
4GB eMMC flash memory
WiFi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth (4.0 and 2.1 EDR),
40 multiplexed GPIO interfaces


Programming Methods

Edison can be used with the Arduino IDE but you can use other programming languages like Python, Node.js, or C/C++. Intel has its own IDE called Intel XDK IoT edition which makes programming with Edison easy. While setting up the programming environment for Edison you can choose between Arduino IDE, Intel XDK or Eclipse.

Prototyping with Edison

To keep the Edison compact, all of the I/O pins are broken out to a 70-pin Hirose connector. This 70-pin connector is not that friendly for prototyping. Interfacing with these connectors is really difficult, so we need a board with mating Hirose connector to interface with Edison .

The currently available interfacing boards are:

  • Arduino Expansion Board

  • Mini Breakout Board

  • SparkFun Edison Blocks

If you are new to Edison and wanted to play around with it, the Arduino Expansion Board is for you. It will give you Arduino-like feel and Arduino-based shields are compatible with this board,  although they are slightly larger than Intel Galileo. The features are:





• 20 digital input/output pins including 4 pins as PWM outputs
• 6 analog inputs
• 1 UART (RX/TX)
• 1 I2C
• 1 ICSP 6-pin header (SPI)
• Micro USB device connector OR (via mechanical switch) dedicated standard size USB host Type-A connector
• Micro USB device (connected to UART)
• Micro SD card connector
• DC power jack (7V – 15V DC input)

If you want to embed Edison into a project then you can use the Mini Breakout Board or SparkFun Edison Blocks. They are slightly larger than Intel Edison. The Mini Breakout Board has minimal features such as: 

mini_breakoutboard • Exposes native 1.8V I/O of the Edison module

• 0.1” grid I/O array of through-hole solder points
• USB OTG with USB Micro Type-AB connector
• USB OTG power switch
• Battery charger
• USB to device UART bridge with USB Micro Type-B connector
• DC power supply jack (7V – 15V DC input)


SparkFun has a whole set of modules for Interfacing, Power, Sensors and Actuators. You can browse them here.  



Why Edison?

Edison is a low power IoT computing module, hence a less power-consuming processor and slightly larger than a SD card. It is the best choice for a wearable project.


Let’s Make a SmartWatch

Edison is small enough to use in wearble projects, so why not make a smart watch with this tiny computer. I am going to use Arduino breakout board for prototyping though this will not look exactly like a smartwatch in prototype stage. It will have all the functionality you'd expect and later we can work on making  it modular and compact. For the prototyping I used a 16*2 LCD module for display as I don't have an OLED display. If you have one you can use the OLED display as it has low power consumption and is smaller too. I will soon update this project with an OLED. So let’s see functionalities of our Edison Smart Watch

  1. Show time continuously
  2. Monitoring and showing nearby temperature and sending to cloud
  3. Sending SMS with one touch.
  4. Flashlight
  5. Pedometer and sleep monitor.



Intel Edison Module

Arduino expansion board for Edison

Touch Sensor

Grove Button

LSM303 Accelerometer/Compass Sensor

Temperature Sensor

16*2 LCD RGB backlight

Grove LED module

Super bright LED (White)

Grove base shield

Power supply

Micro USB cable

Jumper wires







I am using Grove’s sensors as it makes prototyping easy. You will find most of the sensors used in this project in Grove’s Starter Kit for Edison . If you are new to IoT, the Seed Studio Grove Starter Kit will help you to easily get started with development, since you need not worry about circuits and other electronics stuff. With Grove shield and sensor modules you can easily create anything without worrying about electronic components much. There is no need to manage sensors using soldering or a breadboard. This article “Grove Starter Kit With Intel Galileo Gen 2: Getting Started” will guide you about how to set up and get running with the Grove Starter Kit plus, though it is with Galileo gen 2 but everything is similar for Intel Edison. I am using Adafruit’s Flora accelerometer/compass. It works fine but as this is designed as sewable module you will have to do a little extra work while making connections with this. If you don’t have any I suggest you Grove – 6-Axis Accelerometer & Compass or Adafruit’s accelerometer/compass LSM303.


Make Edison Ready for Programming

  1. Download the installer depending on your PC’s configuration from https://software.intel.com/en-us/iot/software/installers
  2. Run the installer, it will ask you about the programming environment and IDE you want to install. Choose one or many according to your preference. For this project I am using Intel XDK and programming using node.jsedisoninstaller
  3. Set up Serial terminal: If you want to use your board run commands remotely, you have to set up a serial connection. First install putty from http://the.earth.li/~sgtatham/putty/latest/x86/putty.exe , Run the installer. Expand Connection in the menu and select Serial. Now in serial line type the COM port to which your Edison is connected. In the Speed field, type 115200 and select Serial in the connection type. Click ok, it will open a serial connection. Press enter, now it will prompt for login. Enter your credentials. Default username is root with no password. Now you will see a terminal port.
  4. Connect to Wi-Fi: enter this command in serial terminal-configure_edison –wifi  , Edison will scan for all Wi-Fi networks for approximately 10 seconds. When it is finished, a list of available networks will be displayed. Choose the network by corresponding number in the list, type Y and press enter. It will ask for network credentials, enter valid credentials and you will be connected to WiFi with your Edison.
  5. In your web browser type the IP address of your Edison or “http://edison.local” this will show this page if your Edison is connected to network.
  6. Now we are all done to start developing with our Edison project.


Making Connections

As we are using Grove’s sensors we will make connections with the four pin cables that comes with grove sensors. Don’t worry about polarity as you won’t be able to make wrong connection with them, they will fit only when you connect them in the correct way.

1) Connect your Edison to power supply and to your PC via USB cable.

2) It will take 15-20 seconds to boot up, after that stack the Grove Base Shield.

3) Connect the Temperature Sensor to analog pin A0

4) Connect the temperature sensor to A1.

5) Connect the LCD Display to one of the I2C port

6) Connect the Accelerometer to another I2C port.

7) Connect the Grove button to D2.

8) Connect the LED module to D3.

9) Connect the touch sensor to D4.






Programming for SmartWatch

  1. Open Intel XDK IoT edition, if it is not already installed in your PC get it from https://software.intel.com/en-us/iot/downloads
  2. If you have flashed you Edison with the Flash Lite Tool Node.Js will be already installed on your board.
  3. Connect the IDE to your Edison board. It will ask you for username and password, default username is root with no password.

  1. Select a blank Node.js template and create a new project.





Code for Displaying Time and Temperature

var lcd = new jsUpmI2cLcd.Jhd1313m1(6, 0x3E, 0x62);

var groveSensor = require('jsupm_grove');

var today = setInterval(function ()
    var d = new Date();
    var b= d.toTimeString();
    lcd.setColor(0, 255, 0);

// Go to the 2nd row, 6th character (0-indexed)

     var celsius = temp.value();
        var fahrenheit = celsius * 9.0/5.0 + 32.0;
        var t = Math.round(fahrenheit);
        lcd.setCursor(1, 1);
        lcd.write(t+" *F");
}, 1000);


Code for Sending SMS


var twilio = require('twilio');

// Create a new REST API client to make authenticated requests against the

// twilio back end





var client = new twilio.RestClient(TWILIO_ACCOUNT_SID, TWILIO_AUTH_TOKEN);

// Pass in parameters to the REST API using an object literal notation. The

// REST client will handle authentication and response serialzation for you.




    body:'Hi, sending from my Edison SmartWatch'

}, function(error, message) {

    // The HTTP request to Twilio will run asynchronously. This callback

    // function will be called when a response is received from Twilio

    // The "error" variable will contain error information, if any.

    // If the request was successful, this value will be "falsy"

    if (!error) {

        // The second argument to the callback will contain the information

        // sent back by Twilio for the request. In this case, it is the

        // information about the text messsage you just sent:

        console.log('Success! The SID for this SMS message is:');


        console.log('Message sent on:');


    } else {

        console.log('error: ' + error.message);




Code for Accelerometer and Gyroscope


var accelrCompassSensor = require('jsupm_lsm303');

// Instantiate LSM303 compass on I2C

var myAccelrCompass = new accelrCompassSensor.LSM303(0);

var successFail, coords, outputStr, accel;

var myInterval = setInterval(function()


        // Load coordinates into LSM303 object

        successFail = myAccelrCompass.getCoordinates();

        // in XYZ order. The sensor returns XZY,

        // but the driver compensates and makes it XYZ

        coords = myAccelrCompass.getRawCoorData();

    // Print out the X, Y, and Z coordinate data using two different methods

        outputStr = "coor: rX " + coords.getitem(0)

                                      + " - rY " + coords.getitem(1)

                                      + " - rZ " + coords.getitem(2);


        outputStr = "coor: gX " + myAccelrCompass.getCoorX()

                               + " - gY " + myAccelrCompass.getCoorY()

                               + " - gZ " + myAccelrCompass.getCoorZ();


    // Get and print out the heading

        console.log("heading: " + myAccelrCompass.getHeading());

    // Get the acceleration


        accel = myAccelrCompass.getRawAccelData();

    // Print out the X, Y, and Z acceleration data using two different methods

        outputStr = "acc: rX " + accel.getitem(0)

                               + " - rY " + accel.getitem(1)

                               + " - Z " + accel.getitem(2);


        outputStr = "acc: gX " + myAccelrCompass.getAccelX()

                               + " - gY " + myAccelrCompass.getAccelY()

                               + " - gZ " + myAccelrCompass.getAccelZ();


        console.log(" ");

}, 1000);

// Print message when exiting

process.on('SIGINT', function()



        myAccelrCompass = null;


        accelrCompassSensor = null;





Code for turning on the flashlight with button press: 

var groveSensor = require('jsupm_grove');

// Create the button object using GPIO pin 0

var button = new groveSensor.GroveButton(2);

// Read the input and print, waiting one second between readings

function readButtonValue() {
    console.log(button.name() + " value is " + button.value());
    var v=button.value();
    if(v==1){ led.on();}
    if(v==0){ led.off();}
setInterval(readButtonValue, 1000);


Sending Data to Cloud

var ubidots = require('ubidots');

var client = ubidots.createClient('YOUR-API-KEY');

client.auth(function () {

  this.getDatasources(function (err, data) {



  var ds = this.getDatasource('xxxxxxxx');

  ds.getVariables(function (err, data) {



  ds.getDetails(function (err, details) {



  var v = this.getVariable('xxxxxxx');

  v.getDetails(function (err, details) {



  v.getValues(function (err, data) {




Here I am using Ubidots for IoT cloud. With Ubidots we can visualize the data in an effective way. It supports a wide range of devices and can also trigger some actions like sending mails and messages. It also offers APIs to speed development with your language of choice. Hence I have chosen it's Node.Js library to interact with my Edison.


Setting up Ubidots Cloud

  1. Log in to your Ubidots account or you can create one here http://ubidots.com/
  2. Select the “Sources” tab and then click on “Add Data Source” to create a new data source. Here I have added My Edison.



  1. Once the data source is created we have to add variables to it. In this project we are going to send Temperature data, hence we will create a single variable.


  1. Click on the variable and copy the variable ID. Paste this in your code.pr


  1. Select My Profile->API Keys. Get your API Key from here.


  1. On your Dashboard add a widget of your choice, depends on how you want to visualize the data.
  2. I have chosen line chart and table values for the temperature sensor. By looking at the Table values you can easily determine at the last value of temperature and with Graph you can evaluate a sudden variation in temperature.



You will need to create a twilio account  for sending the messeges. Copy the API key in the code that you get from twilio account. Build, Upload and Run your app on Edison. It will download the NPM modules and upload the current project to Edison. While working with Intel XDK IoT edition you need an active internet connection.





You will see the sensor values in the debug console, if everything works fine you will notice data being sent to Ubidots cloud and message sent to mobile phone with touch. Press the button and this will turn on a flashlight that will be useful to see you in the dark. The display will show current time and temperature.










Navigate to Ubidots dashboard, you will see all the data sent from the sensor in our widgets. You can see the last value recorded by the temperature sensor and a line graph illustrating variations. Here I have also created some alerts. For example,  if the temperature level exceeds up to a certain level, an alert will send to our mobile phone through SMS.




 When we touch on the touch sensor a text message is sent to my mobile phone immediately. I have used a Twilio trial account, so they have added some other text along with the SMS. If you get a paid account you won’t see any Twilio advertisements.



Points of Interest

Making a smart watch and carrying it is something you will really enjoy. I am still working to make this small and also working on the pedometer and sleep monitor functions. Watch out for updates soon.







adruino, edison, intel

Published at DZone with permission of Pooja Baraskar , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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