Are You a Superhero?

Yes, you are. Think about it: today, with an internet connection, you can take a world-class university course for free, start a business that changes the world, or even build a satellite and send it to space. It’s true — Google it.

We live in a time where we can turn any idea into reality, with little or no money. This is possible, thanks to the superfast advancements of computers and technology.
At the same time, these amazing advancements in technology require us to evolve beyond what we were told as children – “Go to school, get a good education and you’ll live happily ever after.” It was like that for a long time, sure, but it’s starting to change, because technology allows us to be more effective, which reduces the need for human labour.
Also, more and more human professions are being replaced by machines and computers. We now have self-driving cars that are better drivers than humans. There’s also Watson, a computer created by IBM that has beaten humans at the television game show Jeopardy!. For the first time in history, a computer has beaten us at analysing, retrieving and presenting knowledge. you know, knowledge – that thing we spend years at university to acquire.



And this is not sci-fi or something that’s happening in a dark and lonesome laboratory somewhere.
IBM’s Watson is actually installed in hospitals and is diagnosing cancer – sometimes even better than human doctors. And all of this is just the beginning.
Ultimately, when knowledge is for free, only your ideas are worth paying for. So what can we do?
Well, the value of knowledge – or, actually, the value of working with knowledge – is shrinking.
But on the other hand, the value of coming up with great ideas and creating new things is increasing rapidly. Therefore, we need to supercharge our brains and become hyper-creative idea makers, and learn how to execute and build those ideas. We still need knowledge, though, because without it, it’s impossible to be creative. But we need to build on top of that knowledge, with a hyper-creative mind-set.

So, how do you actually supercharge your brain and become a hyper-creative idea maker? It’s pretty simple, actually: if you start to play with and learn the right tools, the ideas will start to come. You don’t revolutionise the art of painting by thinking or reading about painting. you do it by picking up a brush and actually painting. The same goes for the art of technology.



What if I told you [Puts on Morpheus from The Matrix sunglasses.] that there is an equivalent of the paintbrush for technology, with which you can turn almost any idea into reality, with very little money and with no prior skills in electronics or programming?

There’s no red pill vs blue pill in this story, but there is something else, and it costs about SEK 170 at Kjell & Company. It’s called the Arduino: a tiny computer with which you can build amazing things. you can attach GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth and a myriad of sensors. Want to detect dust, pollen or pollution in the air or water? There’s a sensor for that. Do you want to interact with it by touch? There’s a sensor for that, too. And I’ll say it again: you need no prior skills in electronics or programming to get started. It’s so easy to learn, you’ll be up and running within weeks. Now imagine what you could build with something like this.

Sebastian Alegria from Chile built an earthquake- detection device with it when he was 14 years old. The device has its own Twitter account – (@alarmasismos) – and announces earthquakes to all of its followers. Much better and cheaper than the million-dollar system that the Chilean government was building.

Botanicalls is another product built with an Arduino, originally created by New york-based students. It’s a device that sits in your plant pot and monitors water and sunlight levels. And it has its own Twitter account for your plant, so when it’s thirsty, for example, it will tweet to let you know.

Dana Ramler, an industrial-design student from Canada who is now based in Spain, used an Arduino to build the Bio Circuit – wearable electronic clothing that monitors your heart rate, which in turn determines what kind of music you’ll hear through a speaker built into the collar.



Meanwhile, ArduSat is an open-source and crowdfunded satellite, also built using an Arduino, which was launched into space in 2013 from Japan. Today, ArduSat sells a “launch pack” to schools, so that they can start their own space programme (I wish I were still at elementary school). Talk about changing the world and making it a cooler place.
And these are just a few of the thousands of amazing projects out there that have been built using an Arduino.
We live in a time where you can turn any idea into reality, with little or no money. And the direction in which technology is taking us has made your ideas more valuable than ever.

So, go on, pick up the brush and start painting. We dare you to step into the unknown. Because only then will your mind get hyper-charged and start throwing great ideas at you. And we dare you to turn one of those ideas into reality and make the world a better place.

We dare you to be a superhero.


Arduino Plays Timberman from Valentin Heun on Vimeo.



Words by Dr Ashkan Fardost

1 A Lilypad Arduino, Designed for Wearable Technology, as with Dana Ramler´s Bio Circuit Clothing (Photograph By Leah Buechley)

2 Arduino Uno (Photograph By Nick Hubbard)

3 The Ardusat (© ARDUSAT)