David Cuartielles founded Arduino five years ago together with an international team and is a researcher at Malmö University. The text is taken from our publication “Internet of Things”, about how the media industries can benefit from a network of connected things.
Back in the 80’s, scientists imagined a world where we would be surrounded by a multiplicity of computers. Nowadays, any home appliance is using microcontrollers more powerful than some of the first personal computers. There are so many computers surrounding us, that if all of them had a screen and a keyboard, it would be impossible for us to interact with them.
The Internet of Things (IoT) adds one extra degree of complexity to this equation. It brings to our attention that those computers are not living in isolation, they talk to other computers through the internet. Connecting to the net opens up for a world of possibilities where products and services come in bundles offering functionalities we never dreamed of.
The IoT deals with simplifying the way we generate and consume information that is sensitive to be shared online. The issue is then how to create objects that will help designers thinking about new devices.
An open source hardware platform
Arduino is an open platform with a whole series of documentation that allows doing just that: creating new connected devices that will serve or collect data in ways that are more meaningful to us. It addresses the fact that you don’t need to be an engineer to envision a new product.
In 2005 our platform was used by industrial designers to implement visions of future devices. Back then we didn’t ambition it to leave the university labs or to be used by a broader audience.
Nowadays it can be found at retail stores like Radioshack in the US or Kjell & Co in Sweden. It is manufactured by tens of thousands each month. Students use it when bringing their ideas to life, hobbyist spend time building new concepts out of them, engineers study its development at universities, companies like Apple ask for cv’s of people with ”Arduino knowledge”. It is being cloned at a ratio of one copy for each original board.
Use around the world
We are crafting collaborations with companies dedicated to the internet as a business model. In May 2011, Google launched their accessory development kit based on one of the Arduino designs. In February 2012 Telefonica announced Arduino’s official M2M (machine-to-machine) board to allow the ”long tail” of the communication business building connected objects including reasonable data-plans attached to them.
Arduino has grown beyond expectations and we keep on getting amazed by projects like the one of Sebastian, a 14 year old Chilean teen that managed to get over 30.000 followers on Twitter thanks to an Arduino machine he designed that would post a message when detecting an earthquake. Arduino is a tool to bring us a little closer to a more connected world.