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Why Arduino Google

This week is the yearly Google I/O at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It’s a meet and greet for lots of people and companies, a big dot-com over-the-top party, and most of all it’s geared towards “web, mobile, and enterprise developers building applications in the cloud with Google and open web technologies… Products and technologies to be featured at I/O include App Engine, Android, Google Web Toolkit, Google Chrome, HTML5, AJAX and Data APIs, Google TV, and more.” Maybe not so much Google TV or Google Wave this year :) but for open hardware and mobile folks, this was one of the most important weeks in history.

In this week’s column, I’m going to talk about Google choosing the open source hardware platform (Arduino) for the “Android Open Accessory” kit, and why this matters. I’m also going to talk a little about how Google could make it better. And then, I’m going to do what I always do in many of my columns: make predictions (Why The Arduino Won And Why It’s Here To Stay). 1) Google will have a “Kinect-style” surge of creativity for the Android + Arduino; 2) Apple will start to abandon their restrictive “Made for iPod”(TM) program and adopt the Arduino in some way for accessory development, 3) Microsoft/Nokia/Skype are likely paying attention to all this, and they should look at the Netduino for their accessory development for Windows Phone 7.

If mobile companies want to see the phone market blossom with creativity, with accessories never imagined, this is how it can happen.

Let’s jump right in…

Some quickie Android stats (according to Google):

  • 100 million activated Android devices
  • 400,000 new Android devices activated every day
  • 200,000 free and paid applications available in Android Market
  • 4.5 billion applications installed from Android Market

OK, boom — lots of people with these phones, even Apple has to be a little nervous about all these phones. Google told the world this week they’re using Arduino for ease-of-development in creating accessories for the Android platform called “Android Open Accessory.” It’s a perfect choice, we’ll get into why shortly. Here’s what they said, and you can also watch the keynote:

From the beginning, Android was designed to extend beyond the mobile phone. With that in mind, we’ve developed Android Open Accessory to help developers start building new hardware accessories that will work across all Android devices.


Video above, starts around the 36:00 minute mark for the hardware talk.

So Why Did Google Choose Arduino?

Besides there being about 300,000+ Arduino “in the wild,” I estimate there are about half a million people somehow doing something with the Arduino, from students to people not even realizing they’re using this open platform in some way (Processing, education, etc). For a microcontroller platform, as I’ve said before, it’s won and it’s here to stay. Community, open IDE, open hardware, no-mess drivers, cross platform — it’s fairly cheap and easy to get going and do something right away. There really isn’t an easier way to get analog sensor data or control a motor easier and faster than with an Arduino — and that’s a biggie, especially if you’re a phone and want to do this.

So with millions of phones out there and Google looking to make it dead simple to develop accessories, what easy-to-use, sensor-ready, open source platform has enough umpf to get this party started? Arduino. I’m sure that’s debatable (head to comments), but really, what else would be a better match?

Keep in mind, the current “Arduino” hardware Google rolled out isn’t likely what’s going to be used as this matures. We’ll see cheaper (and better) versions shortly, although Google did give away free ones to everyone at Google I/O, and that’s hard to beat. I do think Google made some decisions in their first implementation that I don’t agree with — more on that in a bit.

What Is the Android Open Accessory Kit?

Unboxing-1

Here ya go

The Android 3.1 platform (also backported to Android 2.3.4) introduces Android Open Accessory support, which allows external USB hardware (an Android USB accessory) to interact with an Android-powered device in a special “accessory” mode. When an Android-powered device is in accessory mode, the connected accessory acts as the USB host (powers the bus and enumerates devices) and the Android-powered device acts as the device. Android USB accessories are specifically designed to attach to Android-powered devices and adhere to a simple protocol (Android accessory protocol) that allows them to detect Android-powered devices that support accessory mode. Accessories must also provide 500mA at 5V for charging power. Many previously released Android-powered devices are only capable of acting as a USB device and cannot initiate connections with external USB devices. Android Open Accessory support overcomes this limitation and allows you to build accessories that can interact with an assortment of Android-powered devices by allowing the accessory to initiate the connection.

A USB micro-controller board that is based on the Arduino Mega2560 and Circuits@Home USB Host Shield designs (now referred to as the ADK board), which you will later implement as an Android USB accessory. The ADK board provides input and output pins that you can implement through the use of attachments called “shields.” Custom firmware, written in C++, is installed on the board to define the board’s functionality and interaction with the attached shield and Android-powered device. The hardware design files for the board are located in hardware/directory.

To cut to the chase, the ADK is an Arduino Mega with a USB host “shield” baked in, and a power supply to provide a steady 5V to the Android phone from an external supply. That’s the good news (there’s some bad news, the way Google did it, not necessarily the best way)…

What Is the Bad News About the Android Open Accessory Kit?

Pt 101006
Pictured above: IOIO for Android

You’re saying… There are already ways to work with Android AND Arduino! What about the MicroBridge, IOIO, Amarino, or Cellbots? Some will say the ADK is a step back from the IOIO; since the ADK will only support newer phones, this means any accessories will not likely be backwards compatible, but that’s how it goes with phones, I think. They do want to sell new models and get folks to update their phones.

Pt 101007

The other projects and products are all still good and will continue, but they just don’t have Google behind them (yet). I think we’ll see something close to the IOIO from Google as things move forward, but that’s just a guess. Pictured above, Oleg Mazurov’s USB host shield (using MicroBridge).

“Romfont” has a very detailed post and I agree with a lot of it. He writes:

By botching together a new protocol the ADK team ensured that nobody will be able to use this on anything but the latest phones, which makes it completely useless for commercial applications in the short term. For hobbyists it means that unless they’re willing and able to update their devices to the latest ROMs they won’t be able to join the fun until their next smartphone purchase. So we’re dealing with a badly designed, incompatible alternative to existing solutions. And this alternative is now the standard backed by Google.

I really want to love ADK, and I would have been the first to applaud Google for a job well done if they had actually taken the time to come up with a proper design. They could have added a new protocol properly, they could have built something on top of ADB, but more importantly they could have added proper support for OTG. As it stands ADK doesn’t solve any problems that weren’t already solved. Instead, they made the situation only worse by adding a new poorly thought-out standard, and we all know that’s the last thing Android needs another one of.

Read the whole thing — lots of good points in there. But Google declaring Arduino for Android is what the big news is here — other, future, and better implementations will be coming out soon. I know folks who are working on this right now. It’s being reported you could potentially use a USB host shield and an Arduino now, but there are power issues and I’m waiting to confirm if this is all true.

Another thing — Google doesn’t really have hardware expertise, despite being Google. I think the MEGA + USB host shield “all in one” was something quick and easy to get out the door before Google I/O. And already has the developer base of the Arduino. Google likely didn’t want to have folks needing to get or purchase some Keil complier just to make some prototypes and accessories or blink LEDs from your phone. So again, good on Google. But I am looking forward to the next revision (and what the open source community does).

Oh, one more thing before I keep going, here are the ADK files you can download, Google did everything properly for OSHW, by the way (nice!).

Is This the End Of Apple’s Restrictive “Made for iPod”(TM)?

Pt 101008

What do you need to do to get Apple’s approval for making “approved” accessories that work with the iPod/iPhone, etc? This:

Participate in the MFi licensing program to develop electronic accessories that connect to iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Licensed developers gain access to technical documentation, hardware components, technical support and certification logos. Developers receive technical specifications describing the iPod Accessory protocol, the communication protocol used to interact with iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Developers also gain access to the hardware connectors and components that are required to manufacture iPod, iPhone, and iPad accessories.

I think “licensed developers” is old-think and “open specifications” is where it’s at. Will Apple’s way eventually come to an end in some way? I think so, but it really depends on what happens with Android accessories, if all the cool and amazing stuff only happens there. Apple will likely make it easier — they’ll need to.

I’ve heard that Apple accessory NDAs are really, really restrictive (more than any others) and someone I know who made accessories said to me: “If Apple likes what you’re working on, they’ll just clone it, always keep that in mind.” This was years ago, during the iPod-only days, but that’s something to consider. If Apple doesn’t like the hardware I want to make, they can shut me down, just like pulling an app from the App store. If anyone has wonderful experiences with Apple and hardware, please post up in the comments (if you’re allowed to).

Perhaps I’m a little burnt from Apple’s iOS program in general (they never approved my app, no way to contact Apple, it was a nightmare). I found other stuff to work on, but it was a huge waste of my time. Besides, for now, I really want to support the company that does the most with open source hardware.

One more thing… I think Google is going to do a lot of accessory development internally -

Hershenson and Brit were part of the trio that founded Danger in 2000. The third partner: Android chief Andy Rubin. The three engineers launched pioneering consumer smartphones, like the once-ubiquitous-among-celebrities T-Mobile Sidekick in 2000.

Now they’re back together again. Within the last 12 months, Britt and Hershenson quietly joined Google to run a new wing within Android called Android Hardware. …they spend their days building things that will turn into reference designs for Android peripherals. Android Hardware is exploring everything from home automation to exercise gaming and robotics. While there are no immediate plans to build Google-branded Android hardware accessories, Brit indicated that he would love to see Google introduce some of its own Android peripherals in the long term. The folks in Cupertino have to be paying attention.

This is a pretty awesome team, I wouldn’t be surprised if they cooked up a lot of amazing accessories and then worked with / handed them off to the steady stream of Googlers who leave the company to start companies (to later be re-acquired by Google). This something completely different than the way Apple works usually. I still miss the old Sidekick.

What Should Microsoft/NOKIA/Skype Do About This?

Mknd01-2

What if Microsoft wanted to do what Google just did? Is there an open source .NET platform? YES! The Netduino. Quick, Ballmer, get out there and talk about this and how it’s the next accessory platform for Windows Phone 7. Seriously! Get out there and talk about how this is the next “Kinect.” But PLEASE, don’t acquire the company that makes Netduino — that would screw it up. Just support them publicly (or secretly, Secret Labs!) and get every .NET developer a Windows Phone 7 phone and a Netduino to start hackin’ on. Developers matter, right?

DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS. Kidding aside, there are likely meetings in Redmond about this now, hopefully it will get past committee-think. netduino, Microsoft, do it!

Will Android Be the Next “Kinect” for Creative “Hacks”?

Just wait, thousand of Google I/O attendees are heading back home. Within days we’ll see the first “hacks,” within weeks the first applications and accessory prototypes, and then within months (or less) accessories being sold, Kickstarter funded, and/or new startups coming out of nowhere. The best way to predict what’s going to happen next is for all of us to build it. I didn’t really care too much about the Android until now. I’m excited to build something new without needing to jailbreak, jump through hoops, or ultimately get turned down. And I get to use my favorite open source hardware platform, the Arduino. Why does Google choosing Arduino matter? Because from now on, if you want to compete with Google and inspire developers to make accessories, you gotta go open, and you got to go Arduino.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


Related

Comments

  1. Casey Dunn says:

    small point, the ADKs were only available to the folks who managed to squeeze into a session announced during the keynote… and lots of I/O attendees were scrabbling around trying to get their hands on one. I’m guessing a couple of hundred were distributed.

    Strangely enough at the close of I/O there were dozens of kits left in the swag booth, but the staffers were not allowed to give them away.

    1. Anonymous says:

      But you should be able to roll your own with an Arduino, a USB Host Shield, and a 5v power supply (avoid the voltage regulator) that’s strong enough to charge a phone. I’ll try this out in the next week or two and post something about it. Also, Modern Device is planning to have a <$80 kit that works with the ADK in the coming week. They should have something to show at Maker Faire.

      1. Here’s a guide:

        http://romfont.com/2011/05/12/google%E2%80%99s-open-accessory-development-kit-on-standard-arduino-hardware/

        I don’t have a Nexus S to test if it actually works but it should. I used the same hardware to talk ADB to a whole range of Android phones, so electrically it’s sound. I use an external power source to supply VBUS, and the phone charges off of that.

    2. Anonymous says:

      You actually can order a kit: http://www.rt-shop.sakura.ne.jp/rt-shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2731&language=en (out of stock, but you can still order)

      Problem is, 31,500 JPY. That’s about $389… for an Arduino Mega with a shield with some I/O to play with.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @twitter-22013233:disqus thanks!

  2. Kevin Kelm says:

    Wait, how are there 200,000 arduino devices “in the wild” and 500,000 people “doing something with [them]“? Are they sharing?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @google-172cb320b9383310c1dd9547d0d25c20:disqus yes, they’re sharing (school settings, workshops, conferences) and/or they’re using its sibling project, processing.

      1. Aaron says:

        Come on now…. This is just a made up number. Its like counting everyone who ever looked at an arduino in passing. The more likely scenario is that anyone actually using an arduino is using multiple arduinos and that a decent percentage of arduinos are actually just collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. You’d be lucky to be able to come up with 20,000 active developers at best.

        1. Greg Graham says:

          All I know is that our school, we have more Arduino developers than we have Arduinos, since students are working in pairs, sharing an Arduino.

          1. Anonymous says:

            yup, this is how it is everywhere, my estimate is likely on the low side.

        2. Kevin Kelm says:

          I’ve got 2 arduinos on the shelf myself. I gave another 2 of them away to penniless students. So that’s 3 people for 4 arduinos. /anecdotal

        3. Anonymous says:

          @yahoo-UR7XMG2IBACXAVXI455YXE6O4Q:disqus between maker shed and adafruit we’ve sold way way way more than 20k arduinos, so your argument doesn’t make much sense. i’ve specifically asked the arduino team and you can see their quotes in the press about how many they have said are out there. you’re welcome to do all the research and come up with other numbers with data points, but you won’t :)

          1. @ptorrone make that 300.000 :)

          2. Anonymous says:

            hey everyone, massimo is on the arduino team and he just said 300,000 arduino units in the wild – so i think my estimates of what’s going on are not only pretty good, they’re on the low side! woo!

          3. Aaron says:

             I think you missed the point. Developers =/= arduino units sold. Artificially inflating the number of actual arduino developers doesn’t help anybody. 300K units of the arduino out there is an amazing feat and doesn’t need made-up numbers wrapped around it to make it more impressive.

          4. Anonymous says:

            @yahoo-UR7XMG2IBACXAVXI455YXE6O4Q:disqus if there are 300k units your estimate of “20,000″ developers is way way off.

            what’s a “developer” for arduino? perhaps you can clarify that. please re-read my text…

            ===
            Besides there being about 200,000 Arduino “in the wild,” I estimate
            there are about half a million people somehow doing something with the
            Arduino, from students to people not even realizing they’re using this
            open platform in some way (Processing, education, etc). For a
            microcontroller platform, as I’ve said before, it’s won and it’s here to
            stay.
            ===

            my estimate of the number of units and people who use the arduino in some way from ownership, to workshops, to edu, including its sibling project, processing, is likely *low* (around 500k). you’re welcome to email the arduino team, the processing team, do research, look at data points from companies like maker shed, adafruit, etc – feel free to spend the time and effort and come back with something researched.

  3. Gus Issa says:


    What if Microsoft wanted to do what Google just did?….”
    GHI offered $500 coupon to first one to get open accessory working with .NET Micro Framework and someone got it working the same day! Here is a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHIN_Ylhk5o and the forum thread http://www.tinyclr.com/forum/20/3212/

    1. Anonymous says:

      that was fast

  4. Alfredo Jara says:

    Wow! Who thought we would see the day. Makers meet Google. Now I see something big coming for makers all around the world. Now it’s our time.

  5. RoysterBot says:

    I can’t wait to see what comes out of this. I’m an Arduino tinkerer with an iPhone who just got very interested in the Android. Gadget shopping ftw!

  6. Anonymous says:

    IMO, I don’t think we’ll see a reaction from Apple in this arena until there’s some kind of conclusive market statistic which says that as a direct result of their closed accessory platform versus the Android open platform, they are directly losing sales to Android.

    And when they do make a move, it’ll be towards something more accessible, but definitely not the open platform of the Arduino – if for no other reason than to not be seen following in Google’s footsteps. I mean, you can supposedly develop accessories now without any kind of hardware support from them, so the most we’ll see is the opening up of the api to standard iOS devs. The tinkerers/makers/hackers represent a tiny market share of overall iPhone usage, so Apple doesn’t have to care about them. And anyone who is serious about hardware development for the market will (in Apple’s eyes) be able to do it with provided software alone – as they’re doing at the moment.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @twitter-20049438:disqus the same could be said about the kinect, but i think it’s pretty clear companies are moving more towards going open vs “licensed developers”.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I don’t expect to see Apple ever embracing open hardware, they gave that up with the Apple ][+. (I wish I still had that spiral-bound hardware schematic.) They’ve been so successful with secret development, tight control and highly opinionated design that any major shift toward openness is almost unfathomable. And ignoring the geek ethic, who can blame them? Apple’s biggest problem these days is finding space to store all its money bags.

  7. Stacy Devino says:

    The thing is with this is that basically every single Android phone out there has the hardware to support OTG USB, it is all about porting over the linux .ko files and messing with the kernel a bit. Now, if you have the serial.ko you can do OTG programming of the Arduino. The Arduino IDE is light enough to make into an apk and give some special permissions.

    The bigger news is that Android is now officially supporting OTG USB (though without said .ko added), so making this into a possibility is very real.

    I have always wondered why Cyanogen Mod has not just included this from the get-go. Right now I am doing a code merge to get it going, but the CM7 changes its stable release too much and i just want to use USB headsets!…. however Bluez code changes are under test for my Evo.

    Not an expert in mobile, just a passionate hobbyist!

    1. Anonymous says:

      “Android is now officially supporting OTG USB (though without said .ko added)” is a tough headline to write :)

      1. Stacy Devino says:

        This means that now the USB Hosting ability has been cooked in, so you can basically translate any Linux USB drivers over to your Android device. Cha-Ching!
        Proprietary – pssshhhhhh no more writing USB hosting-hardware-specific-kernel mods for ME! you only have to do it once or twice and then you say never again. Now my boss wants me to do some for his Pandora Tablet. Can you tell your boss no?

  8. not too familiar with the IOIO board, just now did a quick look at it on the sparkfun page (http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10585) . . .

    but, i don’t think going with the Arduino over the IOIO is such a bad move. The IOIO looks like it exposes the chip’s input / output to Android/Java, similar to how Wiring exposes the ATmega’s input / output to C++. The big difference: with the IOIO the Android device has to drive the accessory completely, while with an Arduino some/most/all of the basic hardware-driving logic can be offloaded to the firmware running on the accessory itself. This can allow a hardware developer to create accessories with a little more smarts in them, potentially making life easier for the Android/Java developer on the software side.

    There’s also the issue of language preference. Google probably is shy about exposing their Java coders to concepts like hardware pins, PWM, and I2C, for fear of scaring them away. C / C++ / Wiring coders on the other hand would be more comfortable picking these things up, I think.

    As for the Gingerbread 2.3.4 requirement: I remember hearing that the new accessories, when plugged into a user’s Android device, will prompt the user to install the accessory’s companion application if not already done so. This sounds like it would need OS / system-wide support to implement, thus the required OS upgrade. I’d be surprised if the ADK libs weren’t backported to previous Android builds, if there’s a demand for older device support. The accessory hardware would just have to rely on the end user to do the right thing.

  9. Addidis says:

    Microchip also has a board 80$ Link failed see below.

    Microchip, meet arduino.

  10. now it’s time to start teaching arduino to kids http://blog.minibloq.org/

  11. Watch this video for more details: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7szcpXf2rE

    One, they call out specifically IOIO and, while they like it, it apparently talks to the Android device over the ADB protocol, which is a debug protocol which may change. At which point the IOIO wouldn’t work anymore. While the IOIO is somewhat of a hack, what they’ve done is offer a proper USB-standard solution here.

    Also, Honeycomb and beyond devices will support standard USB Host mode. There’s nothing Google-specific about that. An android device talking to a USB peripheral like a keyboard or joystick is completely USB standard technology.

    The only possible issue here is when the Android device is acting as a gadget to another “Android accessory” which is acting as the USB host. They describe in the video the mechanism used to for the accessory to enumerate the Android device and initiate communication with it. It sounds a little backwards until you realize most of the time you’ll want your phone to be the gadget, not the host — otherwise your phone would be required by the USB spec to provide power to the accessory, potentially draining the battery very quickly.

  12. A cool question that would be worth investigating further is whether “openess” allows companies to escape liabilities.

    For instance, a glucose monitoring device on Android vs iOS. When someone makes a (hopefully not fatal) mistake, will the “openess” change who is liable for the mistake?

    1. Anonymous says:

      the company selling the glucose monitoring device. but anyone can always sue anyone.

      1. It might seem that way at first glance, but as you say
        anyone can always sue anyone. Nice article as always!

        1. Anonymous says:

          Well, you bring up an interesting point. If it’s a smaller company that makes the glucose monitor, what could happen is that the lawsuit happy will go after the cash cow, which would be Google.

          Of course, that doesn’t do anything against them naming everyone who ever did business with the glucose monitor maker in the suit…

      2. As someone who has designed and shipped an iOS glucose monitoring device you are correct that the manufacturer bears the liability. However, if someone dies using a smartphone powered medical device you can be sure the recall letters and misleading news casts will call out the phone platform before the medical product name due to sheer name recognition. Medical is a special category, but brand tarnish is a real worry.

  13. check out PUSHN900 contest of nokia it was done with arduinos a year ago i guess

  14. fjaraya says:

    Buying arduino boards separately is cheaper than buying at google. Besides that, it’s very interesting and useful @rasek9:twitter

  15. Great post Phil! I think you make some great points, but I want to share some counterpoints and experiences. For the last couple years I’ve been working on a Blood Glucose Monitor that interfaces with iOS device. It has received the CE mark, is available for sale in the EU http://www.ibgstar-shop.de/ and is pending 510K Review at the FDA.

    Apple and MFi – I haven’t fully reviewed the NDA recently so I can’t get specific, but I will say that Apple is an awesome partner. Everyone I’ve met there is a tech geek dedicated to inventing the future. They don’t blog or share much, but the team is engaged, passionate, and a delight to work with.

    Hardware proliferation is a design killer – Apple gets a lot of flack for their limited product line and proprietary connector, but as a product designer I can tell you the uniformity is a huge help. For our glucose meter we wanted to make a case that would tie the phone and device together. That meant designing 3 plastic cases, one for the iPhone 3, iPhone 4, and iPod touch. For Android there are 90 some models and the top 10 change every 6 months. Also, the USB port is located on a different part of each phone. It seems like a small thing, but Apple makes it easy to design accessories by keeping their platform stable.

    Symmetry is beautiful – This is a bit of a personal preference, but by centering the 30 Pin connector at the bottom of the device it nudges you towards design decisions that are functional and aesthetically pleasing. Contrast that to Android where you have a miniUSB 1cm from the top of the device on the left side. On iOS our product seems like a deliberate extension, on Android a barnacle.

    Hardware confuses companies – I’ve talked with a lot of big product, tech, and retail companies and the world of smartphone accessory development is largely confusing to them. Apple offers a well defined playbook, support, and importantly accountability. This makes companies comfortable investing in the platform. Andrino will be perceived as “messy” (just a guess). The product of two open source projects with no one to sue if something goes wrong. This will change with reference products, but will be a big short term barrier. 

    $200 Entry price – Android needs a $200 equivalent to the iPod touch if “Andrino” is really going to be huge. People we have talked to often are concerned about plugging new gizmos into their phones, but are happy to play around with a lower cost iPod touch for a lot of reasons. Android is heading this way, but doesn’t offer an alternative yet.

    Personally, I’m excited to see what comes out of this new announcement and I love any initiative that bridges Bits and Atoms, but I wouldn’t count iOS out yet. I think Andrino will make big waves in the Maker community, but iOS will hold its dominance in the mainstream a good while longer. I’m actually pretty bullish on both approaches as I think there is a tremendous amount of disruption due to these innovations.

    1. Anonymous says:

       @joseph flaherty – excellent post, thank you!

    2. Anonymous says:

       Your app is awesome and cool, it is mainstream and should be quite popular and will be commercially manufactured. You deserve great success.

      But I think Google is shooting at a different market, where apps are not so commercially viable and people want to do them just to have them instead of to sell them.  Think process control applications in gourmet food manufacturing for example.  Ordinarily our chef would hire a fancy engineer like you to design their process control system but now with some determined effort and these excellent tools they might just be able to tackle it on their own.

      The other part of this is that these apps, just like linux, are started as “back room” lab projects away from the eyes of the people who make those political platform decisions.  The Arduino toolchain does not need a positive perception by the “decision makers” any more than Linux, apache, perl, etc.  which were also perceived as “messy” by those very same people.

      This is tens of thousands of tiny little markets that are just too tiny for Apple to even care about.  Apple paints big pictures with broad strokes and lets others take the smaller markets.  It helps them to preserve their purity and simplicity in their products.

      1. I totally agree. I think this is a godsend for the hacker community. I know a lot of people who wanted to play around with mobile accessories, but the Apple approach scared them off a bit. This could be a way for them to build a prototype, find out what the market reception is, and if it is positive they could then invest in one or both platforms.

        On a side note, who is this chef you work for? I’d love to find a chef that incorporates hardware hacks into their cuisine!

        1. Hehe I guess his first language isn’t english and used chef from it’s original french meaning: manager/boss, compare with chief. 

    3. John Jones says:

      Really are we really trying to create yet another serial port ??

      why cant they grab a clue stick and use bluetooth ? 

      they could have included the serial port profile and BANG 

      everything….. would be so much nicer with STANDARDS ! 

      1. I take your point about standards, there are some technical and functional benefits to the 30 pin, but your arguments are valid.

        Re: Bluetooth, this is another area where product design goals and technical limitations collide. Jawbone headsets aside, making a tiny, blue tooth based accessory that has acceptable battery life is pretty challenging. Especially in the medical field where a dead battery could lead to dangerous health conditions. Bluetooth is also somewhat fragmented under the hood and not as standard as one would hope. Again, these are just our experiences, YMMV. 

      2. Faiz Imam says:

         Google stated that Bluetooth support is coming in the future. sit tight, given the raw state of things right now, its difficult to expect everything at once.

    4. Patrick haggood says:

      >Android needs a $200 equivalent to the iPod touch

      A rooted Nook wouldn’t suffice?

      1. For hardware hackers, absolutely! For mainstream users, not so much. Also, its pretty massive so you would be limited for certain applications, like most medical devices. I hope Android moves more in this direction and comes out with a true iPod touch competitor, it then gives you a really nice, low cost, platform for experimenting on both the dev and consumer side.

    5. Anonymous says:

      LOL, spoken like a true i-fan.  I expect nothing less as you’re selling a product made for that ecosystem.  Of course, this makes you an expert in Android too, right? >.>

      You practically – in the same breath – say that there are 300+ Android devices and then say without a doubt that the usb connector is “1cm from the top of the device on the left side”.  You’re clearly thinking Android is one device.  I have a Nexus One.  It’s *MICRO*USB (not mini, as you seem to think) port is on the bottom, centered — just like most HTC products.  Some are on the side, some are on the top — it’s up to the customer to pick.

      Then you say “accountability”.  What does that even mean?   The fact they can block you from their ecosystem, steal your idea, and sell it leaving you high and dry?

      I also don’t see why there needs to be a playbook:  your device initiates an intent on the Android device.  This triggers a request to install an app if it’s not available — or autolaunches the app.  The app you wrote is then responsible for communicating with your device (via the ADK).

      Then you speak about $200 Entry price.  http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10116 . 5 second google.  $20 + the cost of a USB cable + $15 one-time Android Market account.  Seems quite a bit less then $200.  Enjoy paying the Fruit Tax though.

      1. SynchroM says:

        Erm, the $200 was including an iOS device. Where can I get all that sparkfun stuff and an Android device for <$200?

        You got completely the wrong end of the stick on his comment about port placement. If you design some accessory, would you prefer to have to make 5 different variants or 300+ to cover the biggest market you can? In this case more choice is a very bad thing as it means more overhead, more R&D effort and less profit for accessory makers.

        1. Thanks for the support SynchroM, do you have a blog/twitter by any chance? 

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Thats pretty cool dude. Very cool stuff indeed.

    http://www.anon-web.es.tc

  17. Gemcore says:

    Can’t argue with many of your points Joseph, but didn’t the IBM PC start out the same way? Now look where we are. I don’t see this as any different. When you give people (in this case a LOT of geeks) the means to do things their own way, they make amazing stuff. I welcome the freedom to create things without a lot of boundaries and rules. I believe slapping the standards on everything too soon stifles innovation and out of the box thinking. 

  18. Anonymous says:

    Predicting the next Kinect will be open source:  bold.

    Explaining why the last Kinect was made by Microsoft:  hard.

    This article is bold.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @steko:twitter  please re-read the predictions :)

      i’m not sure if the next kinect will be “open source” but i’m really sure they’re do a SDK immediately.

  19. Folks like @clintrutkas over at Coding4fun http://channel9.msdn.com/coding4fun/ have already done some great things with these boards using .Net … it’s nice to see Google getting into the space but the impact of stealing folks like Vic and Don from Microsoft is starting to show in their “innovation” :) have already done some great things with these boards using .Net … it’s nice to see Google getting into the space but the impact of stealing folks like Vic and Don from Microsoft is starting to show in their “innovation” :)

  20. Jan says:

    can’t help but all the idea i can think of are better off with using wifi and no usb cable. but good to know there is better support for wifi protocols now

  21. quixote says:

    I don’t know.  I’m interested to hear about Google and Arduino, but I’ve become rather wary of the Goog in recent years.  They ripped off Firefox.  They ripped off the Linux kernel. Their customers are advertisers and we users are the stuff they deliver.

    One of their MOs is to throw stuff at the wall and see if it sticks, and maybe that’s all they’re doing with open hardware.  That would actually be good.  But to me, based on their past less-than-clean record with open software, the fact that they can’t be bothered to look at existing projects in the Arduino community is a red flag.

    1. Jerry Houston says:

       How can you “rip off” open source projects?  

      1. quixote says:

         If you think that all value is contained in money, why are you even reading an open source oriented forum?  The idea behind open source is that we can all contribute, that everyone gives back according to their means, and that thereby the whole grows.  There’s no money involved.  But when someone comes to a potluck dinner, takes half the food and puts it in their car and drives away, that’s breaking the social contract, even though no money was involved.

        Google forked the kernel for their own purposes, which you can do, that’s fine, but they did not put their work back in the community.  That last is not fine.  I don’t know if it’s illegal — anyway, who’s going to sue the Goog? and they know that — but it’s definitely not in the spirit of open source communities.

        If they did it once, why assume they’ll never do it again? That’s what I mean by feeling wary.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @quixote:disqus  please do not give analogies about potluck dinners, instead give specific examples of what google is doing to the open source hardware project arduino that you do not like. are you saying google needs to release OSHW files (they did). or are you saying they need to fund arduino in some way? i can’t figure out what the issue is here.

          1. quixote says:

             Please don’t tell me which analogies to use.  I am not talking about money or source code.  I am talking about a huge corporation who has shown on several occasions that they do not act in the same sharing spirit as volunteers in open source communities. 

            Google hasn’t done anything yet to the Arduino community that I’m aware of.  What I’m saying is that based on their actions in other open source communities, wariness may be more appropriate than enthusiasm.

            As for my specific feelings re arduino, well, for instance, it would have been better if they’d gone with one of the existing projects and contributed code or other help to that.

            Does that make it any clearer?

          2. Anonymous says:

            @quixote:disqus  if you’re not talking about money or source code, what are you saying? what specifically has goggle done to arduino or other open source communities that was harmful? please be specific.

            you said “it would have been better if they’d gone with one of the existing projects and contributed code or other help to that.”

            ok, which project?

    2. Anonymous says:

      @quixote:disqus what parts of firefox of linux has google “ripped off” and also not provide the source code to? please provide examples and links here, thanks.

      1. quixote says:

         The Firefox situation is perhaps particularly relevant, since it could parallel the Arduino one.  Google “supports” an existing open source situation until they have whatever they came for.  Then the support disappears, Google turns into an 800 lb gorilla competitor, and the originally unified enthusiasm and/or focus behind the open source project is split.

        Good will and other intangibles are priced in business.  It’s not just source code that can be ripped off.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @quixote:disqus  again, what parts of firefox of linux has google “ripped off” and also not
          provide the source code to? please provide examples and links here,
          thanks.

          1. Mitul Amin says:

            Hi I am not particularly supporting this view, but I think what the @quixote is trying to say is that Google will support Arduino untill they come up with their own variant of Arduino that is just a little different and force fast and frequent updates to the point that the original Arduino project can’t keep up with. What this leads to is markers that use Arduino now will in the future use Google’s more frequently updated platform and leave Arduino to struggle. They didn’t rip off firefox. They do opensource chromium (chrome is a subset that is not open source I believe just chromium), but that is chromium, Google is not supporting the original project that was the leader in this space. They start with an open source project, then create their own which they can direct to achieve their own goals and there is a sort of a drain of users / developers from the original project. That does not fit well with a lot of people that believe in supporting open source, but it is the middle road between open source and commercial software. You can have the source code but you can’t compete commercially with the 800lb Google gorilla. Who is going to buy support from you for your open source project when Google just give away a similar product and may just introduce a subscription model to support the costs. Look how far Google took their web browser. There is no space for Firefox on Chrome OS or the chrome book !!! See the future now?

          2. Mitul Amin says:

            Hi I am not particularly supporting this view, but I think what the @quixote is trying to say is that Google will support Arduino untill they come up with their own variant of Arduino that is just a little different and force fast and frequent updates to the point that the original Arduino project can’t keep up with. What this leads to is markers that use Arduino now will in the future use Google’s more frequently updated platform and leave Arduino to struggle. They didn’t rip off firefox. They do opensource chromium (chrome is a subset that is not open source I believe just chromium), but that is chromium, Google is not supporting the original project that was the leader in this space. They start with an open source project, then create their own which they can direct to achieve their own goals and there is a sort of a drain of users / developers from the original project. That does not fit well with a lot of people that believe in supporting open source, but it is the middle road between open source and commercial software. You can have the source code but you can’t compete commercially with the 800lb Google gorilla. Who is going to buy support from you for your open source project when Google just give away a similar product and may just introduce a subscription model to support the costs. Look how far Google took their web browser. There is no space for Firefox on Chrome OS or the chrome book !!! See the future now?

          3. Mitul Amin says:

            Hi I am not particularly supporting this view, but I think what the @quixote is trying to say is that Google will support Arduino untill they come up with their own variant of Arduino that is just a little different and force fast and frequent updates to the point that the original Arduino project can’t keep up with. What this leads to is markers that use Arduino now will in the future use Google’s more frequently updated platform and leave Arduino to struggle. They didn’t rip off firefox. They do opensource chromium (chrome is a subset that is not open source I believe just chromium), but that is chromium, Google is not supporting the original project that was the leader in this space. They start with an open source project, then create their own which they can direct to achieve their own goals and there is a sort of a drain of users / developers from the original project. That does not fit well with a lot of people that believe in supporting open source, but it is the middle road between open source and commercial software. You can have the source code but you can’t compete commercially with the 800lb Google gorilla. Who is going to buy support from you for your open source project when Google just give away a similar product and may just introduce a subscription model to support the costs. Look how far Google took their web browser. There is no space for Firefox on Chrome OS or the chrome book !!! See the future now?

          4. Mitul Amin says:

            Hi I am not particularly supporting this view, but I think what the @quixote is trying to say is that Google will support Arduino untill they come up with their own variant of Arduino that is just a little different and force fast and frequent updates to the point that the original Arduino project can’t keep up with. What this leads to is markers that use Arduino now will in the future use Google’s more frequently updated platform and leave Arduino to struggle. They didn’t rip off firefox. They do opensource chromium (chrome is a subset that is not open source I believe just chromium), but that is chromium, Google is not supporting the original project that was the leader in this space. They start with an open source project, then create their own which they can direct to achieve their own goals and there is a sort of a drain of users / developers from the original project. That does not fit well with a lot of people that believe in supporting open source, but it is the middle road between open source and commercial software. You can have the source code but you can’t compete commercially with the 800lb Google gorilla. Who is going to buy support from you for your open source project when Google just give away a similar product and may just introduce a subscription model to support the costs. Look how far Google took their web browser. There is no space for Firefox on Chrome OS or the chrome book !!! See the future now?

  22. Triny D says:

     great article, I do believe Apple’s entertainment/personal communication ecosystem will continue to thrive, but the Android/Arduino combo will enable experiences well beyond what Apple has in mind…and then there will be iApps that will integrate with Google’s ecosystem.

  23. bill says:

    Google needs a booth at maker fair.

  24. The CW says:

     Yes people will stop making accessories for iOS devices. Businesses often stop making products for wildly popular devices because it’s relatively harder to get licensed.

    I’m sure your conclusions are correct.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @The_CW:disqus i think apple is more likely to make it *easier* to make accessories for iOS devices – read the article :)

      “Apple will likely make it easier — they’ll need to.”

  25. Daniel says:

    people at Make, you MUST make these articles printable.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Wow, this is great news. My friends at Electro Tech will love this..

    http://www.electro-tech-online.com/arduino/

  27.  I think people forgot that this fall Android 4.0 is coming out and is going to be running on all devices, old and new. So that will solve the backwards compatible issue for the ADK

  28. Jessie Wan says:

    Open source has been around from the start.
    Its the dark forces that seek to capture and hold it you have to fight

  29. Peter Harper says:

    Really interesting to hear I could use my Arduino with Android. Often thought it would be great to connect hw to a phone

  30. Atmel often discontinues chips whereas Microchip supports chips for a much longer time.

    1. Ain’t that the truth, Atmel has been the hardest to source for parts for projects i’ve been involved in. AVR Studio 4 is one of the buggier IDE’s i’ve had to use. Crashes and lockups are just part of the process with it.

    2. Ain’t that the truth, Atmel has been the hardest to source for parts for projects i’ve been involved in. AVR Studio 4 is one of the buggier IDE’s i’ve had to use. Crashes and lockups are just part of the process with it.

    3. Ain’t that the truth, Atmel has been the hardest to source for parts for projects i’ve been involved in. AVR Studio 4 is one of the buggier IDE’s i’ve had to use. Crashes and lockups are just part of the process with it.

    4. Ain’t that the truth, Atmel has been the hardest to source for parts for projects i’ve been involved in. AVR Studio 4 is one of the buggier IDE’s i’ve had to use. Crashes and lockups are just part of the process with it.

  31. Gemcore says:

     For me there was always a question of whether Atmel would even survive – now perhaps they have a chance. 

  32. Anonymous says:

    I’m coming at this from the Arduino side rather than app developer.
    To me this is great news.  Arduino is easy to develop for and so making practical devices gives near immediate feedback.  High level of engagement that will encourage people to tinker more.
    Possibly the next wave of hardware hackers get excited.

    Great news -  waiting for the YouTube videos and blog posts showing this being exploited.

  33. techlinking says:

    Can’t argue with many of your points Joseph, but didn’t the IBM PC start out the same way? Now look where we are. I don’t see this as any different. When you give people (in this case a LOT of geeks) the means to do things their own way, they make amazing stuff. 

  34. techlinking says:

    I think Android will be the best OS for smartphone. 

  35. Anonymous says:

    Android projects acclimated to use bluetooth, which was bound and clunky. That is just a bit bigger than the equivalent of my chumby hacker board acknowledging iOS in the form of Safari and HTML5 via wifi.
     
    Preço ipod

  36. Well now we have Apple’s reaction to the Android ADK, http://www.dailyack.com/2011/07/connect-your-iphone-to-real-world.html.

    While it’s still MFi crunchy on the outside, the inside is starting to get a little gooey. I’m going to be really interested to see where this goes…

  37. [...] things will head based on the decisions that will be made by the big players in technology. If Apple and Google embrace the opportunities the Arduino represents, this could mean that devices made by these companies, such as iPhones and Android phones and [...]

  38. Anonymous says:

    Excellent post you share here.. Android projects acclimated to use bluetooth, which was bound and clunky.

    Touch Screen Mobile Phone | uy Mobile Phones Online
     

  39. [...] the original: MAKE | Why Google Choosing Arduino Matters and Is This the End … This entry was posted in News and tagged ajax, engine, google-chrome, google-wave, toolkit by [...]

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  42. Marvin says:

    Android is developing fast and they are getting new technologies in there mobiles. Even Apple have some good features. Apple has more accessories and even i m using apple phones. I like bike mount for iphone 4 its good.

  43. Virtronics says:

    Also, please remember to use Simulator for Arduino which will speed up Arduino designs and leave more time for the fun stuff http://virtronics.com.au/Simulator-for-Arduino.html

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