The Arduino is a fantastic platform for beginners and experts alike, but sometimes flashing a new sketch onto it can be awkward. If your Arduino is built into a project, having to crack open the case in order to connect a USB cable or use the ISP header can be annoying, and it's that annoyance that Petunia Tech is aiming to fix with its WiLoader add-on design.
Currently in the early stages of Kickstarter crowdfunding, the WiLoader is relatively simple yet promises much. Based around the popular low-cost ESP8266 Wi-Fi microcontroller, the WiLoader sits on top of an Arduino's in-system programming (ISP) header to allow the user to flash a new sketch onto the board entirely wirelessly, or to read or write serial data from the controller.
Wi-Fi-equipped Arduinos and Arduino compatibles often include over-the-air (OTA) programming functionality, but the WiLoader is designed to work with any ATmega-based Arduino or compatible regardless of existing connectivity. Integrating into the IDE, the WiLoader could ease development while reducing costs: instead of having to include a Wi-Fi-equipped Arduino in your project simply to make it easier to flash sketches as you go through the development process, you can stick a WiLoader on top then remove it when you're finished ready for the next project.
Petunia Tech has promised to make the WiLoader hardware and software design files available under a permissive licence as open hardware and open software, though they are not yet publicly accessible. More information is available from the official campaign page.
WiLoader easily connects to your Wi-Fi network, then you can program your AVR, Arduino boards, robots and other targets like them. It doesn't need any kind of cable for computer connection, especially those huge old USB ones. Because it employs Wi-Fi, even your smartphone can be used to configure, communicate, control and monitor your targets via a Wi-Fi-UART bridge.