1. It's the first product to use the Curie chip.
Intel's Curie Module is a low-power solution for wearables and industrial edge products. (The name is weird, though, since Marie Curie died from radiation poisoning. Moving on...) The Curie Module features an SoC that's meant to be integrated into wearables and, as such, comes with a motion sensor, Bluetooth radio, and a long-lasting batteries. The Curie can handle always-on applications and the Android is an easy-to-use dev board: it makes total sense to marry the two together into a product that even kids can work with. And speaking of kids--
2. It comes with electronics and coding courses full of projects for kids.
Companies are well aware of the future need for coders and makers, so it's no wonder they're trying to get kids hooked on making electronics. Massimo Banzi, Arduino's co-founder, worked with Intel to create an entire curriculum for physical computing, and the Arduino 101 will be incorporated into it.
3. It's still about $30.
That's important, because it stops being a "maker movement" once the parts become prohibitively expensive. With the 101 costing about the same as the other Arduino boards, development remains accessible for even the most cash-strapped engineer.
4. It has its own television show.
America's Greatest Makers is coming to TV in the US in 2016 and contestants will be given Arduino 101s to use for making the coolest wearables and IoT devices. Intel partnered with Turner Broadcasting System and United Artists to bring the show to air; it's a genius marketing idea, but it should also be pretty fun to see what inventions contestants come up with. Winners get $1 million USD, Intel's backing, and resources and partnerships to bring the idea to market.
5. It's got pretty great hardware.
If it plans on being the brains behind connected devices, it's got to offer adequate performance. The 101 features:
- 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller
- 384 kB of flash memory
- 80 kB of SRAM
- a DSP sensor hub
- BLE radio
- 6-axis combo accelerometer and gyroscope sensor
6. Programming it will be a snap.
If you're familiar with other Arduino boards, you'll be familiar with this one as well. Intel will provide special libraries to utilize the Marie Module's special features, which is great because that means Intel will provide additional support after the board is released.
What else do we know? We want one. And 2016 seems so far away.