M5Stack Launches the Compact, Camera-Packing CoreS3 with the IoT and TinyML Firmly in Mind

Featuring a touchscreen display, camera, microphones, IMU, and more, the CoreS3 packs a lot of functionality into a small footprint.

Embedded hardware specialist M5Stack has launched a new all-in-one development kit, dubbed the CoreS3 — and featuring an integrated camera, various sensors, microphones, and an ESP32-S3 microcontroller to tie it all together.

Designed, the company says, for everything from Internet of Things (IoT) development and hobbyist maker projects to smart home control, industrial automation, and computer vision at the edge, the M5Stack CoreS3 packs in a lot of features into a small footprint. At its heart is the Espressif ESP32-S3, featuring a dual-core Tensilica Xtensa LX7 processor running at up to 240MHz with 512kB of static RAM (SRAM), 384kB of on-chip flash, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 Low Energy (BLE) connectivity, and vector acceleration specifically designed for tinyML workloads at the edge.

That latter feature is likely why M5Stack has decided to pair the chip with a Galaxycore Microelectronics GC0308 camera, a VGA-resolution CMOS sensor running at up to 30 frames per second. For audio, there's a pair of microphones and an integrated speaker — pairing nicely with the 2" 320×240 color touchscreen display which dominates the front of the device. At the rear, a bundled DIN Base can be removed to provide access to the main board and expansion headers — or left in place to provide a DIN rail compatible mounting option, DC power input, and more.

Inside the housing is decent array of sensors, comprised of Lite-On's LTR-553ALS-WA I2C digital light and proximity sensor and a Bosch Sensortec BMI270 six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) with separate BMM150 magnetometer. There's also an NXP BM8563 real-time clock and calendar chip, designed for low power consumption, for projects which need accurate timing even when the microcontroller is in one of its sleep modes.

In addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the CoreS3 includes a USB Type-C connector for data and power with USB On The Go (OTG) support for hosting external devices, two Grove-compatible interfaces, and an M-BUS interface for expansion with other M5Stack modules. The company is also offering developers what it calls a "UI [User Interface] demo firmware," designed to get you started with the device and its display as quickly as possible — and promises full support in the Arduino IDE as well as M5Stack's own UIFlow development environment.

The CoreS3 is now available on the M5Stack store, priced at $59.90.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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