Arduino in a nutshell (and why we use it)
Updated: Nov 9, 2018
I have to admit before working for AllWize I had no idea what was Arduino and what was the perks of using it. I was a bit ashamed of admitting it because it seemed to be super well known in the IoT world and also because AllWize uses Arduino 🙈.
The other day, I was at the IoT Solutions World Congress on AllWize stand and by speaking to a tone of people about our product (The AllWize K1 and AllWize K2 - soon on kickstarter) I realised that not everyone knew about Arduino - it reassured me a lot 😏. But apart from feeling better for not being the only one, I thought it would be good to write about what is Arduino, what’s its philosophy and the reasons why AllWize uses it for its IoT development tools.
I’ll try to explain it in the most simple language, a sort of Arduino for dummies article 🤓.
What is Arduino
Arduino is a open source hardware and software company. Arduino designs and manufactures microcontrollers and single boards microcontrollers that can sense and control objects in the physical and digital world (that more or less what wikipedia says as an introduction). The boards are either available as pre-assembled or in DIY kits.
So, Arduino manufactures programmable circuit boards that don’t need a programmer to code your circuit board, everything is already integrated, just need to use a simple USB cable to connect it to your laptop. The boards are programmable in C and in a simpler version of C++. Arduino has its own integrated development environment (IDE) and, has created a standard form factor - meaning it is a lot easier to programme than any other boards (thanks for the explanation Sparkfun).
If I have lost you don’t worry, it must be that like me you have absolutely no background in software development, hardware development, engineering, electronics… trust me I’m coming from politics so this was basically chinese to me too! Hang in there, the next parts are less technical 💪🏼!
Communities around Arduino
Creating automated and sensing objects has become so easy with Arduino that it had a great success and has enabled communities of makers to form around it. On social media they are soooo many twitter and facebook accounts on this topic, people sharing about their projects, asking for help or advice on what Arduino products to use. Here are just some examples:
… and these are only examples out of the hundreds of groups on Arduino!
In short, Arduino philosophy is all about democratizing electronic DIY for people to create their own hardware projects thanks to low cost products, open software & open hardware. Arduino is the best way to get started at electronics.
With only ten lines of codes you can make sensors work in the physical world and apparently learning how to code with Arduino only takes one day. I’ll be taking a one day class to learn how to code with Arduino soon, if I manage to learn it, although I’m starting from -1000, everyone should be able to learn it - but that will be the topic of another blog post.
Arduino products were created for hackers, makers, hobbyists, designers, artists and are made to be accessible for all levels. That’s why Arduino communities have flourished around the globe!
Why we use Arduino
So now that I have explained all the benefits of Arduino, I guess it is quite obvious why AllWize uses Arduino to programme all its products. Our goal is to democratize the use of Wize as a technology for IoT. Our products are IoT development tools to create very easily IoT prototypes using Wize. Hence, using Arduino to programme our AllWize K1 and AllWize K2 was a given: Arduino enables us to give access to almost anyone to the Wize technology.
In short, advantages offered by Arduino have been summarized in a blogpost from Symmetry Electronics:
Cross-platform (Windows, Linux, OS)
Simple programming - even for beginners
Open source and extensible software
Open source and extensible hardware
...these are pretty much the reasons why we use it too!
I’ll keep you updated after my Arduino class and tell you if a person like me can learn how to code with Arduino after only 8h…