Since the launch of Windows 10, the first operating system to receive Arduino certification, there's been a surprising lack of devices built to target the maker market. That, however, looks set to change thanks to the staggering success of a new crowd-funded single-board computer: the LattePanda.
Designed as a fully-functional Windows 10 PC, the LattePanda is of particular interest to makers and tinkerers thanks to an embedded Atmel ATmega32u4 microprocessor loaded with an Arduino-compatible bootloader. Running alongside the device's main Intel Atom processor, which boasts four 64-bit x86 processing cores, this chip allows the LattePanda to run Arduino sketches without the need to connect a separate board - even while the main processor is getting on with other tasks.
There are a few catches, of course. The first is that the ATmega's pins are routed to a bunched-up header on the top of the board which does not echo the usual Arduino pin spacing, meaning that existing Arduino Shields are not compatible without the use of a break-out board. The second, and hard to avoid, is the price: a fully-functional PC running Windows 10 doesn't come cheap, and those used to the low price points of a standard Arduino board may find the £53 price - plus a further £13 for shipping to the UK, bringing the total to £66 - hard to swallow.
That extra cost over a standard Arduino does bring some impressive capabilities, though: as well as a full-fat operating system and 32GB of on-board storage, the LattePanda includes USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports for connection to external peripherals, wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi networking, and even Bluetooth connectivity - all things a standard microcontroller-based Arduino would rely upon add-on shields for, bumping up the cost. An HDMI out port also means the LattePanda can directly drive displays, making it easy to get visual feedback from the Arduino processor and any connected sensors.
With 19 days still to go on the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, the LattePanda team has so far raised an impressive £241,000 on a £100,000 goal and aims to supply the first boards by March 2016 - though, as with any crowd-funding campaign, there is always a risk that problems will be encountered and fulfilment will not be possible.
LattePanda is also designed with an Arduino compatible processor, which means it even can help you to control and sense the physical world. Whether you are a Windows developer, an IoT developer, a hardware DIYer, an interactive designer, a robotics whizz, or a maker, LattePanda can aid your creative process.