"Every year was going to be ‘the year of Linux on the
desktop’, until many began to wonder when the FOSS (free and
open source software) breakthrough would come. As we watched for
signs of hope in netbook sales, Drupal sites and partly-FOSS
Android phones, a revolution was taking place all around, in the
physical world but not entirely away from the internet.
"Enter, the Arduino: a low-cost, open source, tiny hardware
board for connecting the real world to your computer, and/or to the
whole internet. What can be done with it? Everything. The limit is
the imagination, and as you’ll see from a few of the example
creations we review here, imaginative use is the norm.
"Just as GNU/Linux software spread because everyone owned it,
and could improve it, giving people the confidence to get involved,
so with open hardware. The reference designs for Arduino are
distributed under a Creative Commons licence (the software is
GPL/LGPL, naturally), and the Italian company behind the boards,
Smart Projects, is keen to welcome new contributors and variants.
Boards are manufactured in different formats, sold all over the
world, and the web is full of different designs if you want to
build one yourself, whatever your skill level."