Arup explores Arduino

The Arduino platform, initially designed to make a device for empowering student-built interaction design projects with less expense, has grown to become a worldwide DIY movement for electronics. A networked community of DIY enthusiasts across the globe has emerged, willing to lend their advice and assistance. Forums, interest groups and web platforms like Instructables, Make and Craft, to name a few, are allowing tinkerers to access vast amounts of free tips, tricks and instructions to support their projects. Thanks to its basic set of functionalities, simplified programming language, and built-in hardware programmer, Arduino has brought hardware development to the masses, empowering “a lot of people to approach microcontroller programming in a simple way, people who otherwise would have never thought of doing anything like that”, as co-founder Massimo Banzi states.

Inspired by this electronics revolution, Arup went on a journey exploring the possibilities this open-source electronic prototyping platform offers. The two-day workshop was hosted by David Polson, Associate in Building Engineering at Arup and an Arduino enthusiast. After an introduction to Arduino and some basic exercises, our multidisciplinary group could start experimenting with different components and build a number of prototypes. Below are some of the inventions that resulted from this exercise.

Arup will be further exploring Arduino-based projects and the possible applications for this technology in a series of additional workshops in the next year.

Paul Lynch working on his keyboard interface

Ultrasonic distance measurement by Georgina Donnelly

Ultrasonic distance measurement by Georgina Donnelly

Stella Dourtme, Zaha Hadid Architects, testing an LCD display

Keypad interpreter by Thomas Mitchell

Ultrasonic rangefinder with distance displayed on an LCD screen, by Simon Bone

Room temperature sensor by Michael Trousdell


Adam Venner controlling a motor with varying speed

Blinking LED attached to a fabric, using LilyPad, by Diana Kovacheva

Nikesh Patel using a potentiometer and a variable speed drive to control a fan

Stella Dourtme, Zaha Hadid Architects, working on a multicoloured 8×8 LED matrix

Ultrasonic rangefinder with distance displayed on the laptop, by Simon Bone

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