Fifteen years after it was first conceived, Arduino is still thought of by many engineers as a hobbyist’s toy even as it is incorporated into more large-scale commercial projects, thanks largely to the rise of the Internet of Things.
“I think there is a big misconception still in the market around what Arduino is,” said Sander Arts, chief marketing officer at Arduino. “There are a lot of people that think that this thing blinks an LED and you can build an Arduino-powered fish feeder. In the meantime, there are a lot of people that are changing the world by building anything and everything, especially in the area of IoT.”
While Arduino is used worldwide by hobbyists, amateurs, tinkerers, and young people first getting their feet wet in electronics, it has also formed the underpinnings of hundreds of noteworthy and successful commercial ventures, including the Pebble Watch and virtually all 3D printers and drones, according to Arts. Arduino is enjoying success in the IoT wave because its easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and supported by a large ecosystem — all important factors, particularly for those who have limited experience with hardware.
There are some indications that Arduino’s momentum in large-scale commercial projects has been disrupted in recent years, principally by two major events: a rift between the Arduino founders a few years back that tarnished the Arduino brand and created confusion in the user community; and Intel’s decision to discontinue its x86 Arduino platforms, which offer more performance than the 8- and 32-bit microcontrollers that serve as the processor for most Arduino boards.
Duane Benson, chief technology officer at PCB assembly services firm Screaming Circuits, said that prior to the Arduino split his company had been seeing more Arduino-compatible designs come through its factory. The rift — which occurred after one of the Arduino founders broke with the other four, resulting in two Arduinos offering and licensing products — created a mess that is still affecting the number of designs using Arduino, though it was resolved in 2016, Benson said.