Punch Through Design, a hardware startup with offices in San Francisco and Minneapolis, is back with a successor to its tiny LightBlue Bean development board. The LightBlue Bean+ won’t replace the original, but offers additional capabilities and ease-of-use that make it suitable for different kinds of projects.
While still small, the Bean+ is noticeably larger than the original design. The extra space is largely devoted to solderless headers, which make it easy to snap on “shield” modules and wire up other components. The board also includes two sockets for connecting sensors and actuators from the Grove family of plug-and-play electronic components. That means there’s a lot of flexibility to add onto the board’s built-in accelerometer, thermometer and LED. Everything is powered by a rechargeable Li-Po battery, which can last for up to a year in a project with low power needs.
The Bean+ takes advantage of the latest in Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity. It’s able to act as a beacon; become a MIDI controller for building homemade instruments; tune in to the Apple Notification Center Service to react to iOS notifications; operate as a Human Interface Device like a keyboard, mouse or gesture controller; and sink into an “observer” mode where it reacts to wireless signals from another Bean or Bean+. It also boasts an impressive range of up to 250 meters for pairing with a mobile device, and up to 400 meters for Bean-to-Bean connections.
Punch Through is funding production of the Bean+ on Kickstarter through Sept. 4, and plans to ship in December. Check out the video below to learn more.