Going to Milan for Arduino Day is an exercise in history, both ancient and contemporary. I’ll leave the ancient aspect to history buffs, and focus on the star of the show, the Arduino open-source computer hardware and software environment. Arduino’s origins come from a small town in the Turin area, close to the city of Milan where the main activities were held.
By Alix Paultre, Aspencore Media
The Arduino project was born in 2003 at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Ivrea, Italy, to provide a simple path for non-engineers to create complex devices with sensor input and actuator control. The name Arduino comes from a bar where some of the founders once met. There were kits and other packaged solutions, most notably the Basic Stamp Activity Kit, released in 1992. However, Arduino was (and is) lauded as an open-source environment where anyone can use and add to the knowledge and hardware base of the system.
Aspencore’s Editorial Director, Bolaji Ojo (right) and Editor Alix Paultre at Arduino Day in Milan
Accompanied by Aspencore’s Editorial Director, Bolaji Ojo, we spent the day looking at interesting ways people have used the Arduino environment to manifest their ideas. The array of people and organizations that are a part of the Arduino community range from multi-billion-dollar electronic distributors like Arrow and Mouser, to individuals making Arduino shields in their basement and writing code on kitchen tables.
There were a lot of interesting exhibits, some created to serve the designer’s own needs, while others were shields or kits made to help others use Arduino to address their own projects. We were able to talk to some of these people at the event, and their projects ranged from robotic kits to remote sensor solutions for the plumbing in smart homes.
One of the best aspects of being in Italy for Arduino Day was the opportunity to speak with some of the people who are at the heart of the effort and community. Although the ecosystem has gone global, its humble beginnings are part of why it became a success.
In this video Arduino's Massimo Banzi (Chairman and CTO) and Dr. Fabio Violante (CEO) talk to Alix Paultre about Arduino's past, present, and future.
In the following video an artist explains a novel musical instrument made using a tank of water with sensors that can detect motion in it. Any motion detected creates both a graphic representation of that motion on a screen as well as an accompanying audio tone, enabling a performer to make music by stirring their hands in the water.
The event was also punctuated by several panels, where industry experts and pundits talked about Arduino and its impact on product development. In all, between the activities, the exhibits, and the talks, it was very obvious that not only is Arduino a significant part of the development community, its role can only grow as more and more people turn to it and its ecosystem to solve their application problems.