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Ingenic's Newton2 allows DIY smartwatches, smartglasses

Ingenic's Newton2 allows DIY smartwatches, smartglasses

The Chinese company reduces the size and power consumption of Newton2 by 50 percent compared to its predecessor

Ingenic's Newton2 wearable board

Ingenic's Newton2 wearable board

A Chinese company wants enthusiasts to make and test their own wearable devices with a computer smaller than an SD card announced Wednesday.

Ingenic's Newton2 is a small circuit board with processors, sensors, wireless and graphics capabilities needed for wearables. The board, which is 15 millimeters by 30 millimeters in size, can be used to develop high-end smartwatches, smartglasses, fitness bands, wearable cameras and smartwear. Newton2 has a MIPS processor and can run a full version of Android.

Pricing for the board wasn't immediately available. But Ingenic isn't new to wearables -- its chips are in use in inexpensive smartwatches and other wearables, particularly in China. The company's chips also surfaced in some of the first Android tablets priced under $100.

Hardware development kits like Newton2 are becoming popular among enthusiasts who develop and test devices before they are released. Intel also offers a similar circuit board for wearables called Edison, which has been used to develop smartwatches and smartwear.

But there are tradeoffs on features with smaller boards. A larger board to develop wearable devices from Freescale includes wireless charging and support for more sensors, for instance.

Newton2 is about 50 percent smaller and more power-efficient than its predecessor, Newton, which shipped in June, according to Alexandru Voica, a spokesman for Imagination Technologies, which develops and has licensed the MIPS architecture.

The Newton2 has an Ingenic M200 chip, which runs a dual-core MIPS CPU and has a 1.2GHz clock speed. It uses roughly 150 milliwatts of power, but that can be scaled down when processing requirements drop. Standby power consumption is less than 3 milliwatts, which would allow devices to work for twice as long compared to the original Newton.

The processor's graphics card can render 720p graphics at 30 frames per second and has VP8 video acceleration, which could prove useful in wearable cameras.

On-board components include a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip, GPS, camera, display and audio interfaces. The sensors include a 9-axis gyrometer, accelerometer and magnetometer.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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