A world where everything is connected is quickly becoming an everyday reality and Arduino Wireless enabled Hardware is probably one of the strongest drivers of the so called Internet of Things movement. The meteoric popularity of the Arduino platform has created a powerful ecosystem of not only makers, but also of startup companies that embraced the low cost ready to use microcontroller based hardware, focused on IoT applications; or, as I will call here in this post; Arduino Wireless applications.
Arduino Wireless Applications
Initially, the community was satisfied with the I/O available in the Arduino board itself alongside wireless Arduino shields to create Arduino Wireless applications. It was acceptable to the community until very recently to be constrained by the 10-bit ADC channels made available by the AVL micros in the Arduino boards. However, as the big data push started to mature, the community came to realize that cloud servers and big data technology could actually take on more useful data. Ultimately, one of the leader companies in data acquisition and measurements applications, National Instruments, decided to come out and play, supporting the big data movement. They even coined a term – they actually love doing that – they started calling Big Data, Big Analog Data. The term “Analog” snuck in there exactly as a reference to the phenomena we are witnessing now; the fact that almost anything can become an analog measurement and then pushed to the cloud.
National Instruments historically showed an uncanny ability to foresee market direction. They have predicted a few years back what is actually starting to happen now. IoT applications are becoming much more sophisticated; therefore, what used to be satisfactory for Arduino Wireless applications in their 10-bit ADCs are now in a steep process of migration to more powerful ADCs. 16-bit ADCs are practically a requirement for any respectable measurement these days, and IoT is following that pattern.
Unfortunately; Arduino boards don’t support 16-bit ADCs; however, the community is quickly finding a solution for that shortcoming; PMOD. PMOD is an open standard by a Company called Digilent. The standard is being adopted very quickly by the Arduino Wireless community as an alternative; almost an upgrade really, to the Arduino shields that historically have been used by Makers only. In fact; large semiconductor manufacturer of high end ADCs, DACs and the likes, such as Maxim and Linear Technology, are starting to offer more and more PMOD compatible boards featuring their stuff.
As this story unfolds and more Startup companies and Makers get interested in creating more sophisticated Arduino Wireless applications; the association between Arduino, wireless and higher resolution I/O via PMOD is growing everyday stronger. In fact, there is now an off the shelf product that combines all three; the Programmable Wireless Stamp.
In fact, as National Instruments, the maker of LabVIEW – the number one Software platform for measurements applications – get behind IoT and big data; the test and measurement community started to show an increased interest in the Arduino Wireless option. Especially now that folks from that industry can use LabVIEW to actually program Arduino targets directly, without the need for C-code generation, via the Arduino Compatible Compiler for LabVIEW.
These folks can also take advantage of the Arduino Wireless paradigm for wireless data acquisition and big analog data applications, as National Instruments calls it. They can use LabVIEW, a programming environment they know and love, utilize 16-bit ADCs and DACs via the low cost off the shelf PMOD modules and use the Arduino Wireless platform via the Programmable Wireless Stamp and the Arduino Compatible Compiler for LabVIEW.
I truly believe the time has come for the low cost paradigm made possible by the Arduino platform to be combined with the experience in high resolution measurement folks from the test and measurement industry bring to the table, for the creation of the next generation of IoT and big data applications.