Don't build with Arduino

The title is kind of clickbait, I’ll admit that, but it’s also good advice.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are just prototyping or learing Arduino is a magnificent tool, it will get you up and running in no time. But the point of this kind of tool, is that once you’ve gone through the Proof of Concept stage, you will redo both hardware and firmware and build an actual product.

But that’s not whats happening. This is a story I’m saddly too familiar with:

  1. Someone gets idea for new product (or blatantly copies it).
  2. Creates XYZ, a new startup to build it.
  3. XYZ hires someone (mostly a young engineer or a ‘hacker’ working as a contractor) to build a proof of concept.
  4. This contractor uses hardware like an Arduino board.
  5. XYZ gets some money from investors, or most likely, publicly funded entities by showing off the “prototype”.
  6. XYZ shops around for anyone willing to “finish” the product, meaning they intend to keep as much of the prototype as possible.
  7. Offcourse XYZ does not release ANYTHING of their firmware and/or hardware, which violates the Arduino license.

For a lot of people this is something of a “nothingburger”. Small companies blowing licenses is kind of expected nowadays, but that’s not by far the issue I have with all of this. Not by far.

The issue is that this has been normalized to the point, that I’ve started to see Arduino boards in products I don’t really want to see arduino boards, like medical devices. How do they pass regulations? easy, they don’t. They either just keep chugging public funding away in a perenial “Development cycle” that somehow doesn’t end in any actual product, but a constant stream of “improved prototypes”, or they spend the money in finding a loophole where they can fit.