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A new standard: The powerful Arduinos that blur the line between maker and commercial builds

In our first piece of weekday Maker Faire Rome 2023 coverage, ipXchange talks with Anna on one of the three main sides to the Arduino stand. In this first segment, we look at some projects made by makers and developers that have used some of Arduino’s most powerful boards outside of their PRO line of industrial-grade products. Both can run MicroPython and support Arduino Cloud for remote control and monitoring, driving the maker space to a whole new level… 

To begin, Anna demonstrates an automated cocktail bar driven by Arduino’s new GIGA R1 WiFi board and the specially designed GIGA Display Shield. A ‘drink’ is made after making a selection using a touchscreen interface, but with a powerful dual-core 32-bit MCU on the GIGA R1 WiFi and a digital microphone on the display shield, a version of the cocktail bar that responds to voice commands is certainly possible. 

While Eamon mistakes the GIGA R1 WiFi as a new version of previous Arduino GIGAs – as opposed to the new product that it is – he could be forgiven as these boards use the same form factor as the popular 54-pin Mega and Due boards which were the previous powerhouses of the Arduino family. That said, the GIGA R1 WiFi features a significant boost to the processing power and memory over the Mega and Due, and around 50% more I/Os thanks to two new headers in the middle of the board, which can be accessed from the top AND bottom sides of the board for extremely flexible interfacing – when the GIGA Display Shield is connected, users still have full use of the 54-pin base set! 

A wider 6-24 V input also allows for direct interfacing with industry-standard power supplies, so check out our full technical writeup of the GIGA R1 WiFi here, where you can also apply to evaluate the technology for use in a commercial project. 

Moving onto the next set of projects, Anna introduces us to some builds based on the new Arduino Nano ESP32, which provides the best of two top-tier ecosystems and a powerful AI-capable processing core for compact builds. The ESP-NOW wireless protocol is another key benefit of these devices as it can be used to easily connect two Nano ESP32s for one-way or two-way data communication, for example in a remote control application. 

As you can see, the onboard ESP32-S3 is more than capable of running games, and the possibilities for compact IoT builds, wearables, and remote-control devices are very promising, so check out the full technical write-up here, where, as usual, applications for evaluation are open to commercial design projects. 

Eamon also spots a limited-edition extra-small Arduino UNO – in stark contrast to the giant Arduino UNO we shared on the weekend – which Arduino released to celebrate their 10 million UNO boards sold mark. You can check out the latest UNO (R4) here, but we at ipXchange know that UNOs were not designed to reach the heights of the GIGA R1 WiFi and Nano ESP32. Still fun though, and still setting a new standard for makers. 

There’s plenty more to share from Maker Faire Rome, so stay tuned for some disruptive technology on the weekdays and great projects on the weekends. This isn’t the last time you’ll be hearing about the Arduino Nano ESP32, or ESP32s in general. 

Keep designing! 

Arduino GIGA R1 WiFi MCU Development Board

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