Sony — to most people —is one of the largest consumer brands in the world known for its lineup of consumer electronics, PlayStation, music, and movies. What might not be as familiar to people is that Sony’s semiconductor division manufactures a wide range of professional components for industrial processes, cars, wearables, sensor solutions, as well as data communication. Traditionally these components haven’t been easily available to general developers; however Sony is now making its multicore CXD5602 microcontroller accessible to any developer via the launch of its Spresense development board in U.S. and Europe.
The idea behind Spresense is to allow developers to create IoT applications in very short time, as opposed to having to source the microcontroller separately and build a customized PCB before getting started programming. The only choice you have is whether to use the Arduino IDE or the more advanced NuttX-based Spresense SDK. Along with what you’re trying to make, this decision is very much up to what programming environment you are familiar with and which one you prefer. Whereas most developers may select Arduino as the easiest option, the NuttX route lets you take advantage of the Spresense’s more advanced features like multicore processing.
The microcontroller at the core of the Spresense development board is designed to be very power efficient, which enables battery-operated use cases. It runs six Arm Cortex-M4F cores with a clock speed up to 156 MHz. This relatively high level of computing power makes Spresense able to handle slightly tougher use cases such as edge AI and image recognition applications. Another feature that sets Spresense apart from other compact dev boards is the integrated GPS (Spresense supports both GPS and GLONASS). Naturally, this is convenient when tracking is required, but equally relevant for navigation purposes like waypoint-based drone flying.
Spresense also packs a 192kHz/24-bit audio codec and amplifier for hi-res sound output. Along with its support for up to eight microphone inputs, this provides plenty of audio-based use cases spanning from smart speakers to music solutions.
Developers can either start out with a basic MP3 player or fully utilize the multi-mic inputs in an advanced audio beam-forming application.
But that’s not all. You can further expand Spresense’s capabilities through a set of add-ons that plug directly into the main board to give you extra functionality including BLE and accelerometer sensors. There is even a Spresense camera board that connects to the dedicated 8-bit parallel CMOS interface.
If you’re keen on unleashing your creativity with Spresense, we’d encourage you to join Sony’s latest contest where the top 100 project ideas will receive free hardware. You find all the docs, tools, and where to buy a board on Sony’s developer website.