Seeed Studio Opens Pre-Orders for nRF52840 XIAO BLE and XIAO BLE Sense TinyML Bluetooth Dev Boards

Available with or without on-board microphone and IMU, the first wireless XIAO models punch well above their weight.

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.

Targeting edge AI and other tinyML projects, the XIAO BLE and XIAO BLE Sense are now up for pre-order. (📹: Seeed Studio)

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.

Seeed has opened pre-orders for the new boards at $9.99 for the base model and $15.99 for the XIAO BLE Sense; all models are expected to begin shipping in mid-December.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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