Arduino IoT Product Line Expands with Two New Boards
Before 2003, when the open source hardware and software firm Arduino was born, prototyping with electronics was not for the faint of heart. Having a background in electronics engineering and programming was indispensable, and the requisite hardware tended to be expensive.
Along came Arduino, with an aim to change the status quo. With roots in the now-defunct Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII) in northern Italy, Arduino helped accelerate the so-called “Maker” movement.
Two executives at Arduino, CEO Fabio Violante, and Massimo Banzi, co-founder and chief technology officer recently sat down with IoT Institute to discuss its new hardware. There’s the MKR Vidor 4000, the first Arduino based on an FPGA chip. “We’re extremely excited about this product because it adds another level of flexibility to people,” Violante said. According to Hackaday, the addition of “FPGA to the Arduino ecosystem is on the list of the most interesting advances in DIY electronics in recent memory.”
And then there’s the Uno WiFi Rev 2, an IoT board with an enhanced AVR microcontroller from Microchip, which also joined the Arduino IoT product line. In the following Q&A, Violante and Banzi explain why they are excited about the new hardware, Arduino’s initiative to make its hardware secure by design and its work to expand its educational activities.
I understand Arduino is seeing more business users deploying Arduino for prototyping and production-scale IoT projects. Can you tell me more about that?
Banzi: Arduino continues to be very popular in the prototyping space. We released our first product with connectivity back in 2007.
After that, we’ve seen more and more people use Arduino boards for small production runs. We see this at small- to medium-sized companies, as well as big Fortune 500 companies. If somebody has a specific problem, they can build a device that addresses it. We are seeing this trend pick up as we expand the number of IoT products we offer. We have a full product line that includes basically every single type of connectivity, including narrowband IoT.
Can you summarize what Arduino is also doing to increase the flexibility of your hardware for IoT applications?
Banzi: We started to develop the idea for the MKR family of products of putting shields on top of them. By combining a few different boards and assembling them, you can solve a ton of different problems.
For example, we released a shield that allows you to talk to RS485, Modbus networks, CANopen and other protocols.
So one of the things we are seeing is that people take all these different modules and assemble them.
There’s also a lot of code available online for Arduino to basically speak any protocol you can imagine.
People can build a working solution very quickly, and now they’ve worked on the sort of hardware side but are also working on the different layers of cloud connectivity.
Throughout this year and going into the next year, we will progressively release more and more parts to this IoT cloud to the point that there will be a full IoT application development platform. You start with the devices in the field, and you go all the way up to the UI that people use to interact with those devices.