THE SINGLE BOARD MICROCONTROLLER Arduino has been revamped to offer WiFi connectivity under Linux, in order to make connecting to complex web services much easier directly from the device.
Named the Arduino Yún, which apparently is Chinese for "cloud", the microcontroller claims to be the first of a family of WiFi products combined with a customised version of the Linux operating system (OS) distribution OpenWRT called Linino.
Designed in collaboration with chip firm Dog Hunter, Linino provides signed packages to ensure the authenticity of the software installed on the device and, according to Arduino, Linino is the most used Linux distribution for embedded devices.
The project's co-founder Massimo Banzi announced the news during his annual "State of Arduino" presentation at the Maker Faire conference in California on Saturday.
"Historically, interfacing Arduino with complex web services has been quite a challenge due to the limited memory available and they tend to use verbose text based formats like XML that require quite a lot of RAM to parse," Arduino's blog post read.
"On the Arduino Yún we have created the Bridge library which delegates all network connections and processing of HTTP transactions to the Linux machine."
Arduino Yún is the combination of the classic Arduino Leonardo board, which is based on the Atmega32U4 processor, with a WiFi system on chip.
Like a Leonardo, the Yún has 14 digital input/output pins, of which seven can be used as pulse width modulation (PWM) outputs and 12 as analog inputs. It also touts a 16MHz crystal oscillator and a microUSB connector. Like any modern computer, it has a Standard-A type USB connector to which you can connect your USB devices and it has a microSD card socket for additional storage.
The Arduino blog explained that when the Yún is turned on for the first time, it becomes a WiFi access point, creating a WiFi network named "Arduino". You can then configure the board by entering your WiFi network name and password. When opening the IDE, you'll see it listed in the "Port" submenu with its IP address instead of the serial port name, Arduino said.
"Using the Bridge library in your sketches, you can link the 32u4 to Linux, launching programs and scripts, passing them parameters (sensor readings for example) and reading their output, thus creating a strong integration between the creativity of your sketch and the power of Linux," the blog explained. "The Yún supports Shell and Python scripts out-of-the-box but you can install a wide range of open source software and tools."
Making it easier for developers to create complex applications, Arduino partnered with Temboo for building the Yún to provide normalised access to over 100 APIs from a single point of contact. This allows developers to mix and match data from multiple websites - for example, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare or Paypal.
The Yún will be available near the end of June for $69 plus tax, which equates to around £50. µ
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