Espressif's New ESP32
Oct 17, 2023
Espressif, makers of the popular ESP32 series of system on modules (SOMs), has introduced a new ESP32-S3-based development board family member: the ESP32-S3-BOX-3, an all-in-one platform for IoT and edge AI applications.
Previously, Espressif unveiled the ESP32-S3-BOX. The new BOX-3 is a minor update of this AIoT development kit. Both contain the ESP32-S3 system-on module, which features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 (LE), an AI accelerator, and 512 kilobytes of SRAM. The BOX-3 has 16 megabytes of flash and 16 megabytes of pseudo-static RAM (PSRAM).
On the surface, the two boxes are very similar. Both devices share the same 2.4-inch 320 x 240 LCD and have features like a speaker, microphones, and a USB-C interface. The two differences are the BOX-3 doubles the PSRAM and replaces the Pmod-compatible connectors with a PCIe-style edge connector for expandability.
The ESP32-S3-BOX-3 plugs into four new accessories: the DOCK, BREAD, SENSOR, and BRACKET modules extend the BOX-3's capabilities.
The DOCK accessory brings back the Pmod-compatible connectors and 16 general-purpose IOs (GPIOs).
For those working on breadboards, the BREAD accessory breaks out the PCIe connector into a 36-pin header with the same 16 GPIOs as the DOCK.
The SENSOR accessory targets IoT-style devices. It contains a temperature and humidity sensor, an infrared transmitter and receiver, a radar sensor, and a slot for a single 18650 battery cell.
Last, the BRACKET accessory has connectors for AI voice, human-machine interface (HMI), and wireless connectivity. (We are unsure what Espressif means by wireless; perhaps it is an external antenna connector?)
Esspressif is touting All-in-one IoT and Edge AI applications with the various software toolkits that work with BOX-3. For example, ESP RainMaker is their cloud platform that you can use to configure the BOX-3's GPIOs and (offline) voice commands. Like other ESP32-based projects, this development platform integrates well with Matter and Home Assistant automation frameworks.
A ChatGPT demo is now available in the ESP-BOX GitHub. It demonstrates how to use ESP-BOX and ESP-BOX-3 to create a voice-controlled chatbot.
Since the BOX-3 has an ESP32-S3 at its core, you can program it with Espressif's ESP-IDF or 3rd-party environments like the PlatformIO, the Arduino IDE, and Adafruit's CircuitPython.
Currently, ESP32-S3-BOX-3 is only available from Esspresif's AliExpress store. The price shows as $49 before shipping. However, it only ships to limited countries. Hopefully, Esspressif will make BOX-3 available via worldwide distributors soon.