Arduino's week of fun in the Bay Area

When May rolls around, makers know it is time to get together in California.  The Arduino community was especially happy to celebrate at Maker Faire, with over 160 other exhibits featuring Arduino projects, we are honored to bring the team to be a part of the annual event.  In addition to a spectacular showing at the biggest show and tell on Earth, we hosted an Arduino Developer Day and an Arduino Education Day.  This was a unique opportunity for our international company to get together with our community of Arduino makers.
Maker Faire was sizzling this year with new technology (and yes, it was just hot too!).  The whole Arduino team from 6 countries staffed the booth to share new projects, hardware, and kits.  Many boards and kits were available for early purchase right in our booth - for the makers who just cannot wait!  Arduino PRIMO has us all very excited, and many faire guests nabbed a board to use the Nordic nRF52832 processor, bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC capabilities.  Arduino STAR OTTO and STAR OTTO LIGHT were available to finally try the STMicroelectronics STM32F469 microcontroller in the MEGA form factor. 

If you love IoT, you know about bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but have you heard about the LoRa protocol?  Arduino and Semtech are making it possible for you to set up a new IoT communication to maximize battery life and network capacity.  Here’s how it works, we have an Arduino TIAN which uses a Gateway Shield, then an Arduino PRIMO with a Node Shield can be about 10 km away.  The Gateway is the device that acts like a bridge between the network server and the Node or Nodes, so communication transmits over long distances, even when the two boards are mobile!  What will Arduino makers dream up with this new technology?  We want to help professionals and makers get started with LoRa, so, we joined the LoRa alliance, made a Gateway and Node kit, and hope to offer this curriculum as professional development for organizations in the near future. 

Could there be anything more exciting?  Well, we happened to launch a new groundbreaking collaboration with Risc-V!  Developed by a group through UC Berkeley, Risc-V is passionate about making the chips themselves open-source.  CEO of Arduino, Federico Musto, participated in a panel at Maker Faire with David Patterson, Ted Speers, Jack Kang, and Madelynn Martiniere.  It was packed with the most talented developers in the Bay Area and beyond! 

A standard microcontroller chip is like a buffet in Las Vegas - they have every type of food, even though you just choose to eat the pizza, the pasta, and the gelato.  An open-source chip is like a custom-buffet with a more limited menu of grandma’s pie, your favorite take-out, and just the type of coffee drink you prefer.  By designing your own open-source chip, you can be more custom with just the functions needed for your product or programming needs.  To be very simplified, when we blink a LED on an Arduino, we are using just one function of the chip while the rest of its capabilities go unused.  With Risc-V, we could design an open-source chip that only blinks LEDs because that is all we need it to do.

Advanced hardware and software interests are shared amongst a smaller Arduino Developer community and whenever possible, we host events to communicate with these intelligent men and women who thankfully care about the Arduino ecosystem as a whole.  At De Anza College in Cupertino California, we met to discuss board designs for Arduino modules and cloud software ideas, concerns, and plans.  We heard presentations from several Arduino Developers and received feedback about the future of the Arduino IDE.  We find, it is still best to get everyone in one room to just talk, that is how we are best to move forward, infusing contributions from the passionate upper-level developers that we are happy to have as part of our Arduino community. 

As the Maker Movement grows, teachers are bombarded by options to bring technology into their classrooms.  Arduino is a favorite because we provide curriculum and any of our projects can be paired with STEAM subjects.  Our continued effort is to get advanced technology into the hands of students, namely, our IoT enabled hardware.  We are making kits to educate students about the most exciting features of the boards themselves.  Teachers around the U.S. and the world can adapt these exercises to serve their own curriculum and year-long schedules.  We hope, for example, that even young students will be able to use Arduino PRIMO’s NFC and IR receiver.  Maybe students could create a science project using the Gateway and Node shields to create a LoRa network for their school.  From the beginning of the Wiring project to the current ambitions of Arduino, we want to focus on making great tools to be the beginning point of discovery in the world of electronics and IoT.  At our Education Day at De Anza College in Cupertino California, we welcomed everyone who is passionate about teaching Arduino to any age group.  De Anza students shared their product designs, high school teachers gave us a window into their experiences with Arduino, and dedicated makers of Arduino compatible products demonstrated them and impressed us.  
We are looking forward to the next Maker Faire and to more amazing Arduino Days around the world!



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