Arduino is an open-source hardware single-board microcontroller, descendant of the open-source Wiring platform, designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible. The hardware consists of a simple open hardware design for the Arduino board with an Atmel AVR processor and on-board I/O support. The software consists of a standard programming language compiler and the boot loader that runs on the board.
Arduino hardware is programmed using a Wiring-based language (syntax + libraries), similar to C++ with some simplifications and modifications, and a Processing-based IDE.
Currently shipping versions can be purchased pre-assembled; hardware design information is available for those who would like to assemble an Arduino by hand. Additionally, variations of the Italian-made Arduino—with varying levels of compatibility—have been released by third parties.
The Arduino project received an honorary mention in the Digital Communities category at the 2006 Prix Ars Electronica.
After the open-source software movement is the Arduino project boosting open-hardware. There are tons of projects on the net with a huge community. The official homepage is getting 600.000 hits a day (2010). There is no excuse, NOT to use it, in a school or university.
The idea behind open-hardware: video