Most people remember their first experience with an Arduino board, and they have every right to fall in love with that memory. Arduino, for many people, presented a door to a whole new world where software had physical implications and could cause a change or trigger events out of the digital realm. From the code as simple as sending high digital signals to light up a LED to the complex applications and robots building, it’s a never-ending journey.
Nowadays, even though many technologies have advanced and you might have many other options than using Arduino, the Arduino platform has got a lot to offer, that could change the programming world as we know it.
Hint, it’s about the internet of things.
The internet of things is the new buzz word for many applications, but it’s for an excellent reason. The internet of things is going to revolutionize how we go about daily tasks up to our business interactions and decisions. The future fantasies of many Hollywood artworks will come to life, and we’re talking about the near future, not centuries ahead. Before we dive deep into how Arduino will play a part in this new world, we need to understand more about the IoT and its requirements.
The IoT World:
The IoT is all about everything getting smarter, and we’re not talking about your typical devices like ovens and dishwashers. We’re talking about your shirts getting more intelligent, your mirror, and pretty much every other appliance in your life. It sure sounds crazy, but when you come to think of it, it’s all about sensing input, which we already have through various types of sensors, and taking a decision based on that input. An essential requirement of the IoT then is a tremendous amount of computing power, and as the name suggests, Internet as well.
So how does Arduino fit into all of this?
Arduino is an open-source electronics platform with both software and hardware components. The hardware components consist of the boards, modules which are smaller form-factors of the classic boards, shields which are extensions for the electronic boards that add functionality to it, these shields are often board-like sized and are plugged into the original board as well as learning kits. Most Arduino boards are equipped with an Atmel family microcontroller that presents the brain layer in the Arduino board. Microcontrollers are basically small computers with a CPU, memory and programmable I/O peripherals. The Arduino possesses a set of input/output pins, analog, and digital to allow you to attack devices or sensors or any other suitable building block. The software components consist of the Arduino Programming Language and the Arduino IDE (integrated development environment).
The Arduino programming language uses a set of C/C++ instructions, so if you’re already familiar with these languages, the Arduino programming language will be like learning a new library to use, which is pretty much straightforward. Arduino uses the avr-g++ compiler. The Arduino IDE is where you’ll be spending a lot of time building and running your code, it’s well equipped for both development and testing and is crucial to the Arduino ecosystem. One can always learn more about Arduino by going through a few online Arduino tutorials which can provide significant insights and knowledge in this area.
Now let’s discuss how Arduino is going to play a role in the IoT revolution. First of all, many Arduino kits have been developed for the sole purpose of participating in the next IoT uprise. They come with ethernet or wifi built-in modules that let you build your electronic IoT applications and connect them to the cloud or to any other device using the internet. Arduino offers different sizes for both industrial and personal use, that also span a range of specifications for the various applications. Not only that, but they also provide IoT shields that offer more functionalities and extensions to the existing boards.
If you’re not familiar with shields, they are basically board-sized extensions that add functionalities to an existing board, for example, the ethernet shield was used to make a standard Arduino UNO board able to use ethernet connections.
One of the best things about Arduino is the fact that it’s quite cheap for a DIY IoT solution, compared to others. This means that you can get creative and involved with IoT applications and even create commercial products without having to go through much hassle. This is one of the reasons why Arduino is also popular among undergraduate students and even for teenagers learning kits.
Arduino possesses a great community, and we’re not talking about regular updates or developers feedback. We’re talking about an entire ecosystem that will take you through the steps of learning, building and using your Arduino applications. There are thousands of guides and tutorials online, and perhaps one of the best is the Arduino’s Project Hub. Arduino Project Hub offers over 195 of community made innovative IoT projects that are quite thorough in details and cover everything from wiring and components creating to the code writing and software configuration. Projects like building an IoT pet feeder, a real-time GPS tracking system, water quality monitoring system are all ready for you to explore and try on the Hub.