Arduino reaches for the IoT edge
Arduino’s support for Linux IoT devices and single-board computers (SBCs) announced at the Embedded Linux Conference+Open IoT Summit NA in March cemented Arduino’s focus on cloud-connected IoT development, extending its reach into edge computing. This move was likely driven by multiple factors — increased complexity of IoT solutions and, secondarily, by more interest in Arduino boards running Linux.
In a “blending” of development communities for the masses — Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and BeagleBone — Arduino’s support for Linux-based boards lowers the barrier of development for IoT devices by combining Arduino’s sensor and actuator nodes with higher processor-powered boards like Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone. Top this with a user-friendly web wizard to connect the Linux boards via the cloud and it simplifies the entire process.
The expanded support for more architectures by the cloud-connected Arduino Create web platform is an inevitable and natural evolution of Arduino’s mission that was born out of a thought to simplify complex technologies with easy-to-use and open-source software, enabling anybody to innovate by making complex technologies simple to use.
Arduino is now also focusing on IoT software to better support multiple hardware platforms, said Luca Cipriani, Arduino’s chief information officer. “The hardware is our core, but now the software is going to be at the same level of importance.”
With the ubiquitous nature of IoT development — it spreads across all verticals — Arduino turned its focus on delivering a simple-to-use integrated online platform, Arduino Create, which was announced a few years ago. At the time, the Arduino web editor allowed developers/makers to write code and upload sketches or programs to any Arduino or Genuino microcontroller boards, storing the Sketchbook in the cloud.
Since then, Arduino has upgraded its cloud platform to enable the deployment of Arduino programs on Linux-based IoT devices, starting last November with devices based on the Intel x86 architectures. Now, developers can deploy Arduino sketches on Linux systems that support Arm processors such as the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone.
“The macro trend we’re starting to see is that everyone wants some ability of cloud connectivity,” said Matthew Short, senior director of IoT at IHS Markit. “If you can run an IoT cloud, then potentially, you can start to have more interconnect between the cloud and some of the services cloud providers want to offer and the developer community. That might be a little more compelling to the maker base that Arduino brings.”
“For Linux developers, it gives them more tools in their toolbox,” added Short. “There is going to be more distributed compute so the Linux community is familiar with that and [Arduino support] gives them more access to sensors and peripherals, which translates into access into more interesting data. A lot of IoT is about data and making decisions based on that data so it opens up data-gathering platforms to that community.”
Today, Arduino has enabled thousands of users (in fact, Arduino has 500,000 registered users on the forum/platform) to transform their ideas into products. They are using Arduino to teach technology, fabricate prototypes, and even build products.