When the Arduino was first created in 2005, the goal was to give students and hobbyists an easy way to prototype electronic devices.
Since then, however, company boards of directors have appeared within increasingly complex systems, and software has become a larger and larger part of its business.
Now, Arduino is driving towards an enterprise production environment, beyond the prototyping stage, and to find out more, we spoke to Fabio Violante, CEO of Arduino, who spoke through product strategy, his overall vision for the company, and how it will invest its latest $32 million cash injection. dollar.
How would you describe an Arduino to someone who is not familiar with the project?
Arduino was born at the Interactive Design Institute Ivrea as an easy-to-use rapid prototyping tool, aimed at students without a background in electronics and programming. The goal was, and remains, to make the technology accessible and easy to use for everyone. We have always focused on global innovation, actively building a company that solves real problems and has a positive impact on the world.
Over the years, Arduino has expanded to offer tools for education and professionals. For the past decade and a half, Arduino has been an integral part of STEM/STEAM software all over the world. An entire generation has grown up learning about technology through our boards and software. Now, this generation is entering the workforce and changing the way engineering departments operate. They want the flexibility, speed, and ease they know from Arduino, and we’re creating new products and services to deliver that for them.
In what ways are Arduino boards different from other boards on the market?
Arduino is well known for its microcontrollers, especially in real-time and control applications. Our ecosystem has highlighted some very precise needs that might benefit from a slightly different approach, which takes the best available in the world of microcontrollers and microprocessors and combines them to provide real-time control and intelligence.
For example, the Portenta X8 combines a dual-core STMicroelectronics H7 Dual ARM® Cortex® M7/M4 microcontroller ARM Cortex M4, Quad-core NXP® i.MX 8M Mini ARM® Cortex® -A53 core and ARM Cortex -M4 core Precision processor. The two parts of the device can talk to each other through a multiple communication mechanism, allowing the user to take advantage of both.
This enables people to develop applications that deal with the most complex aspects of Cloud While also maintaining the real-time aspect. This is especially important in an organization where there is a high level of knowledge in development linux applications, especially containers, while there is also a need for rapid and deterministic control on the other side. Among the targeted applications are robotics, AGVs, multi-protocol gateways, and smart kiosks.
The latest machines are designed keeping in mind the production and industrial use case. This means that the microprocessor and all components on the board have a higher temperature range to handle harsh environments. Besides the security aspect (the Portenta X8 is PSA certified by Arm), these features put the Arduino Pro range in a different category of hardware for industrial use. They are products that can easily be placed in a device or as a product to modify a process and send data to the cloud without having to install additional heaters and/or cooling devices.
The company is probably most famous for its hardware, but tell us about the software side of things
Arduino has evolved into a complete platform that provides hardware, firmware, software, cloud services, and content. To achieve the goal of making technology accessible and easy to use for everyone, in the enterprise, our approach to cloud software and services is an essential component.
Arduino provides the most complex libraries for solving enterprise problems (such as connecting a field bus like a mod bus). We are also developing partnerships related to AI applications to enable image recognition or signal processing on a microcontroller without the developer needing to know every detail about how the algorithm works.
Why is the open source model the right one for Arduino?
open source Essential to accelerating innovation, leveraging the scope and expertise of the Arduino user community, which contributes to new features, bug fixes, and collaborative review of code changes.
It also provides a major benefit for professional developers by enabling faster technology adoption with added flexibility and reduced risk of shutdown.
Our software revenue model is more complex compared to traditional closed source models based on sales licenses regardless of the usage scenario. We base our technology stack on OSI approved software licenses that allow the code to be used, studied, and modified by anyone; At the same time, we offer dual licensing options for organizations and professionals who need more control.
How will Arduino seek to distribute the funds generated in the latest funding round?
Funds will be primarily allocated to research and development, as we develop more complex technology, and transition to the Arduino platform with hardware, firmware, cloud services and content.
The main goal is to reduce friction, both for Generation Z by providing them with a familiar environment as they enter the world of embedded AIoT, and for engineers in general by reducing the amount of redundancy. Arduino provides engineers with the tools to avoid the need to rewrite or duplicate tasks and coding, leaving them free to focus on the final application. This will be especially noticeable with the Arduino Cloud which will be easier and faster than ever.
Tell us about the rush to the foundation. What is the strategy there?
Arduino has millions of followers and enthusiastic users around the world. When we analyzed the use cases, we found that hundreds of thousands of companies were using Arduino for rapid prototyping of complex applications. This applies to businesses of all sizes, from big companies like Apple and CocaCola to your typical small and medium business. At the same time, Arduino was in many cases used in production applications, such as developing test equipment or mechatronics applications.
Thus, the strategy is to provide organizations with a full suite of HW, FW, libraries and accessories to enable seamless expansion from prototype to production. In companies where there is little or no in-house R&D capabilities, Arduino provides tools that act as blocks for building more complex applications without the need for custom board design. We help them tackle the Internet of Things and connected products without having to invest in design services or hiring design engineers, enabling them to focus on the applications they design.
Is there still a place for hobbyists in the new Arduino vision?
Yes, Arduino investors and Series B investors are committed to continuing to support the Arduino community and its global ecosystem. We recently strengthened our dedicated team of makers to ensure we continue to improve innovative tools for and engage with our creative audience.
For example, at the beginning of June, we announced the launch of the Arduino User Groups Program to officially recognize and provide our support to those groups and clubs that come together to learn and share their Arduino experiences. With 169 requests so far from all over the world, we are really excited to see the passion of the amateurs towards Arduino.
Furthermore, we have several new products in the pipeline for the end of 2022/early 2023 ranging from improving some classic Arduino boards to completely new concepts and kits. Our new vision is not a change of course from our core mission of democratizing the most advanced technologies, but a powerful extension of it towards the professional market, as well as the traditional market for makers and creators.
What will the continued rise of IoT and IoT mean for the Arduino project?
The continued rise of the Internet of Things and the Internet of Things presents an exciting opportunity for Arduino, not only with microcontrollers and microprocessors, but also with the importance of sensors. Arduino provides hardware that provides users with sophisticated sensing capabilities with intelligence at an easily accessible price point with a small form factor and low power consumption. The ability to sense and process many different types of data increases autonomy, reduces latency and power consumption, provides more privacy and requires less bandwidth. For example, the Arduino Nicla Sense ME features the latest sensors from Bosch Sensortec along with a microcontroller, so you can run small machine learning algorithms locally to detect patterns on the device and then run an action in the cloud, opening up a whole new range of applications that benefit from the integration of Sensors.
Arduino also sees great potential in machine and system control: it is now possible to introduce competitive secure communication features with more standard fieldbus interfaces and I/O interfaces, opening up the opportunity to disable the PLC in many application areas. Embedded machines and additional production equipment can benefit from Arduino products, such as the Portenta Machine Control, and from a superior user experience, blending Arduino with traditional PLC programming languages. All in line with Arduino’s goal to make complex technology accessible and easy to use for everyone regardless of ability level.
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