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Manila Arduino Empowers Filipino Innovation Through Low-cost Prototyping and Fabrication

Manila Arduino Empowers Filipino Innovation Through Low-cost Prototyping and Fabrication

Manila Arduino Fabrication Lab (Manila Arduino) isn’t your typical go-to prototyping service. They’ve transformed from their humble beginnings, assisting small start-ups with their prototyping, into a full-fledged innovation hub pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) technology in the Philippines.

“We started by helping engineering students bring their projects to life,” says Tim Kristian Llanto, Chief Programmer at Manila Arduino. “But we saw a hunger, a potential for so much more.”

Llanto highlights a key challenge in the Philippines: a gap between brilliant ideas and the resources needed to develop them.  “Many institutions simply don’t have the budget for top-tier fabrication equipment or the expertise to utilize it effectively,” he explains. “This stifles innovation, leaving promising ideas on the table.”

Manila Arduino tackles this problem head-on. Their budget-friendly fabrication lab provides engineering researchers with access to advanced tools like 3D printers and laser cutters. But it’s not just about the equipment. Manila Arduino goes beyond, offering software solutions like Arduino programming and mobile app development.

The impact is undeniable. “We used to see a lot of old tech being recycled into the country’s engineering research field,” says Llanto. “Now, within months, we’re seeing hundreds of innovators develop groundbreaking solutions utilizing our cutting-edge tech.”

One example Llanto cited is a case of a group of researchers with a passion for improving mobility. “They envisioned a smart wheelchair equipped with obstacle detection and navigation features. Their university didn’t have the specialized components, but we were able to provide them with the necessary sensors, microcontrollers, and technical support. Now, their innovative design is being prototyped, with the potential to transform the lives of wheelchair users.”

Manila Arduino’s impact goes far beyond individual projects. They’re cultivating a culture of innovation in the Philippines, empowering Filipinos to develop real-world solutions. “This fabrication lab is just the beginning,” Carl John Dal Calub, Head of Operations at Manila Arduino declares. “We’re building a community where Filipino ingenuity tackles challenges head-on.”

A New Standard for Engineering

Before Manila Arduino emerged, the country’s engineering innovation landscape was often characterized by projects focused on “filling needs” rather than pushing boundaries. Many engineering research projects revolved around repurposing readily available technologies for tasks like refilling machinery or designing egg-sorting mechanisms. While these projects addressed practical issues, they rarely ventured into the realm of cutting-edge innovation.

Manila Arduino’s arrival marked a turning point. By introducing Filipinos to advanced tools and technologies, they opened doors to a new era of invention.

Now, Filipino engineering researchers aren’t just fixing problems; they are creating entirely new solutions. Instead of basic egg sorters, some research groups were able to develop smart incubators with real-time monitoring and temperature control via mobile app. This shift towards app-controlled devices and automation shows a significant leap forward in Philippine engineering.

Manila Arduino doesn’t just provide the tools; they empower Filipinos to dream bigger, to think beyond the limitations of “filling needs” and instead, focus on creating transformative technologies that can address global challenges.

Just Getting Started

Manila Arduino’s fabrication facility is currently located at One Spatial Condominium in Pasig City, Philippines. When asked whether they are planning to expand, Calub, who also goes by Carl John Dal Lee, has this to say: “We plan to put up satellite offices in other parts of the country, particularly, those that can serve far-flung areas. We want this expansion to happen as early as next year.”

Besides expansion, Manila Arduino is also planning to visit countries abroad to observe how they implement the latest technologies and bring them back to the Philippines. “We are aware that our country is lagging in terms of technological development. We want to learn how other countries like the United Kingdom and the administrative region of Macau implement certain advanced technologies and hopefully implement them back home as well, “ he said.

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