The newest iteration of Punch Through Design's LightBlue Bean, the Bean+, is larger and more powerful than its predecessor, but it's still less than a third the length of a banana.
Only the second device that Punch Through has produced, the Bean+ is an Arduino-compatible dev board and platform designed to offer startups, makers and even larger companies looking to design a product an easy platform upon which to develop IoT applications -- especially those using smartphones to control devices.
You can use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) profiles such as MIDI to create musical devices; ANCS for devices such as smartwatches; HID for emulating wireless peripherals; and "Observer Role," which enables P2P communications between BLE devices (such as another Bean or Bean+).
The Bean+ has a larger range than its predecessor, the Bean, at more than 300 meters for connected devices, and its low power consumption and 720 mAh lithium polymer rechargeable battery means the Bean+ can ostensibly run for multiple years on one charge. It also has a spate of standard headers and Grove connectors, which the original Bean didn't.
There are really three components to the LightBlue ecosystem. The Bean and Bean+ comprise the hardware part, but there are also software (LightBlue Explorer iOS and LightBlue Explorer Mac, for example) and platform tools, including firmware and Android and iOS SDKs.
Currently, the Bean+ does not support Windows phone, but Punch Through expects Windows 10 Mobile to be supported automatically.
Punch Through's Bean+ Kickstarter campaign is now live (yes, early adopters will get exclusive goodies), and the company hopes to raise $30,000 to begin building the next generation of prototypes. Almost immediately, Punch Through blew past its goal. At press time, the project has 626 backers pledging more than $47,000.
The company told us in an interview that at this point, the Bean+ is somewhat in the alpha phase, so the Kickstarter funds should help the team push out a more fully-baked product soon. (This is the same strategy Punch Through employed with the original Bean last year.) When that happens, the Bean+ will be available from retailers for about $45 MSRP.