Arduino gets new remote management possibilities

Telefonica's service for the open source DIY microcontroller is met with skepticism by some users

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  Open Source

This led to some skepticism in the Arduino community that consists mostly of hobbyists. "My impression is [that] this is geared more toward corporate use than hobbyists," said Ragnorok, a user in the Arduino IRC channel, who added that as far as he knew, GPRS requires per-device charges which makes it too expensive for most hobbyist level applications. But if this machine-to-machine communication strategy means a fixed cost for all devices, it sounds intriguing, he added.

There are already GPRS modems available that work with Arduino, said user buZz on IRC. Those alternatives typically can vary in price between approximately US$60 and $100. There are cheaper ways to connect to an Arduino board using a mobile network, buZz said. "Just buy a Nokia 5110, connect serial to Arduino, bam, GSM modem," buZz said.

The hobbyists found it quite hard to think of a use for the shield. "I've got some difficulty coming up with ideas," said Yotson on IRC, who added that remote monitoring comes to mind. But remote areas could lack GSM coverage, and "that kind of defeats the purpose because anything not remote surely has an Internet connection," Yotson said.

Another possible problem is the use of Télefonica's API. The Arduino users in the IRC channel said they would rather not be tied to a proprietary API that is run by a for-profit telecom provider.

"It all depends on cost. If the shields aren't much more than a standard GSM shield, and it doesn't take an uber expensive data plan per device, it could work if they ditch that proprietary API," Ragnorok said.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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