Welcome to our ‘5 Questions with Series’ spotlighting industry figures in the world of connected devices and Industry 4.0. Today, we sit down with Marta Barbero, Senior Product Manager at Arduino, leaders in the field of industrial-grade connected products and cloud infrastructure.
In this Q&A, we delve into the exciting possibilities and challenges surrounding the future of connected devices. From preventive maintenance to machine learning at the edge, Marta shares valuable perspectives on the evolving landscape. Join us as we explore how Arduino is not just adapting to, but actively shaping the future of the IoTization and Industry 4.0 revolution.
Q1. What excites you most about the future of connected devices?
Preventive and predictive maintenance, digital twin, condition monitoring… These are just a few of the many applications connectivity is enabling in the era of the iotization and Industry 4.0 revolution. The possibility that engineers can be reliably connected to their machines/production lines, wherever they are and at any time, by leveraging multiple types of communication options, is having a paramount impact on productivity trends, effectively reducing machines’ downtime and overall maintenance costs.
In response, Arduino is continuously investing in developing industrial-grade connected products and Cloud infrastructure to help customers either retrofit their non–connected machines or build up new connected solutions. For example, Portenta X8, which is a PSA Certified Level 1 system-on-module, comes with an integrated Wi-Fi/Bluetooth® Low Energy connectivity able to securely perform OS/application over-the-air updates, making it the ideal choice for a wide range of industrial and building automation applications.
Q2. What are some of the greatest pressures facing your sector?
We are all used to IoT in our everyday life, in the consumer market, with domotics solutions, always connected smartphones, and smart appliances everywhere. But this is still not the case for the industrial market, where many companies are still struggling to understand how to transition from a static and traditional mindset towards Industry 4.0 and, so, a dynamic and continuously evolving industrial IoT.
These are the kinds of needs Arduino Pro is focusing on:
- Helping companies to upgrade their machines by adding secure connectivity and smart sensing able to perform data acquisition and machine learning on the edge
- Enhancing an infrastructure of interconnected equipment, simple to be programmed and easy to be maintained also from remote through a dedicated Cloud offer
Q3. How have you seen customer/consumer demand change over time in your industry?
With the advent of Industry 4.0, a new time has started, a time strongly focused on connectivity, automation, machine learning and real-time data acquisition and processing. While factors such as reliability and flexibility are still essential in all the production processes, customers have started looking for industrial-grade products able to prevent machine maintenance or performance anomaly detection in their production lines.
To satisfy these expectations, on one side Arduino has developed a full range of solutions, like Opta, Portenta and Nicla, with the right processing capabilities and intelligent sensing required to run multiple ML/AI algorithms directly on the edge. On the other side, Arduino provides a web-based software called “Machine Learning Tools” to allow any user to get started with machine learning and AI without effort, enabling endless applications, including vibration
s detection, sound recognition, and machine vision. With the integration of multiple connected devices into their smart factories, customers also started being more vulnerable to cyber attacks and security threads. This is the reason why Arduino Pro always keeps security as a first class citizen during product development s. All Arduino Pro boards are provided with a hardware secure element, able to securely lock customers’ products, not only from a hardware perspective but also from a software perspective, enabling features like secure booting and encrypted communication with Arduino or 3rd-party Cloud platforms.
However, despite their high performance and security features, Arduino Pro solutions are also able to work with low power consumption, addressing another critical demand customers are focusing on at the moment: energy consumption management. Most Arduino boards can be battery-powered and easily installable in multiple locations, and remotely monitored thanks to the out-of-the-box cloud compatibility.
Q4. In your opinion, how do regulations, time-to-market, and security interact, and impact innovation?
As already mentioned, when talking about Industry 4.0, it is necessary to consider the impact of regulations and security. It is no longer a matter of if or when companies will implement new technologies to drive their businesses, but how and with what security measures.
Cyber security regulations are an essential element to survive and thrive in the new era of digital transformation. Cyber attacks can affect electronic devices, corporate networks and in general all Information Technology (IT), Operational Technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, resulting in company downtime and possible financial losses. For this reason it is crucial that companies are aware of all the security regulations, and secure their processes, systems and products, adopting the necessary measures to protect data, machines, software and networks from unauthorized access or malicious intent.
Q5. What can we do collectively to enhance trust in the ecosystem, and among consumers more widely?
Building trust in the ecosystem and in the importance of security is one of the main pillars on which Arduino Pro has started working on. As a matter of fact, Portenta X8 system-on-module is already PSA Certified Level 1 and is one of the few Linux products in the market already compliant with the EU Cyber Resilience Act. In order to spread the importance of cybersecurity even more, Arduino will leverage the approach it is well-known for: democratization and simplification of technology. The consumer and enterprise markets are starting now to realize the importance of these topics in their daily working lives, but not all of them have internally the right skills or resources to understand how to address these new needs. This is where Arduino can make an impact, by providing a lot of documentation and tutorials, in order to speed up as much as possible the learning path. Then of course each project has its specific needs that Arduino may not have covered in a tutorial, but this is the moment in which high quality Arduino hardware, software and libraries can help. They are easy, simple, and the developer does not need to be a highly-skilled employee to be able to use them in their solutions.
And let’s not forget about Arduino’s heart: Open Source. All Arduino products are based on an open source approach: everyone in the Arduino community can use its libraries
, and can customize them depending on their needs. Not only that, Arduino has a really large community made of more than 30M people who are active on multiple forum platforms and ready to support any Arduino user. Otherwise, we have a dedicated customer experience team who is ready to assist any customer struggling with security and connectivity issues with their products. So, to summarize, Arduino can help in enhancing the trust in the ecosystem by developing hardware and software solutions for an unconventionally simple path to IoT success.
About Marta Barbero
Having joined Arduino in 2021, Marta has overall responsibility for the Arduino Pro Systems on Modules solutions as Product Manager. Marta has a MSc in Mechatronics engineering, and has previous experience in leading the entire product life-cycle for autonomous guided vehicles at Comau, an industrial automation and robotics company.