Seeed Studio has announced another entry in its XIAO microcontroller family, this time putting a Nordic nRF52840 at its heart to offer Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity: the XIAO BLE, and its sensor-equipped sibling the XIAO BLE Sense.
Launched two years ago, and updated just a few months ago with a Raspberry Pi RP2040-based model, Seeed Studio's XIAO family — named after the Chinese for "small" — aims to pack as much functionality in as small a space as possible. Compatible with both breadboard use and surface mounting as a module, the XIAO family is popular — and the new XIAO BLE will likely boost that popularity still further.
The first XIAO to include an on-board radio, the XIAO BLE is built around a Nordic nRF52840 system-on-chip — meaning it includes Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity as standard. There's a single-core Arm Cortex-M4 processor with floating-point coprocessor running at up to 64MHz, support for near-field communication (NFC) and Zigbee communication, 256kB of RAM, 1MB of internal flash, and 2MB of external QSPI flash.
As standard, the board echoes the usual XIAO pinout with 11 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins, all of which support pulse-width modulation and six supporting analog inputs. This time around, though, buyers have the choice of embedded sensors: While the base XIAO BLE lacks any integrated sensors, the XIAO BLE Sense includes an on-board digital microphone and six-axis inertial measurement unit.
It's the latter model Seeed is hoping will appeal to those working on tinyML and edge AI projects, showcasing its capabilities by having a unit play host to a speech recognition demo driven by the popular Edge Impulse platform. Other features include a claimed 5μA sleep mode, on-board battery charging, and a user-addressable three-color LED, along with a physical reset button.