Reliable, flexible, and cost-effective automation steals the show at Stratford Festival

Arduino Pro’s Opta WiFi is the star behind the scenes (and under the stage) of North America’s largest classical repertory theater company.


With a staff of 1,400 and approximately 400,000 guests a year, Stratford Festival is no small-time theater. Its productions present complex technical challenges at every show, requiring solutions that must be safe, reliable – and perfectly discreet.

A recent production required a large platform to come up from below the stage and sit flush with the stage floor, without disrupting the performance. Because of the platform’s size, the regular hydraulic lift was not enough to keep it steady in place while actors walked or danced over it. The scene shop crew – led by Head of Automation, Ian Phillips – had to come up with a silent locking mechanism to secure the platforms to the main level.

They devised a solution using four inflatable air pucks integrated with a specialized SCADA system specific to theater applications. The solution provided failure detection via IFM proximity sensors to ensure the platform would not unlock until safe. What’s more, it was all developed, fine-tuned, and tested before curtain-up.

Stratford Festival built its solution with Arduino Pro to:

Create a secure solution that easily communicates with existing stage management software

Cut down development time thanks to frictionless code porting and a variety of readily available libraries

Save money on software licenses while still getting an industrial-grade solution


Opta WiFi was a perfect fit to control the custom elevating stage platform, while meeting high safety requirements. Arduino Pro’s innovative micro PLC offered the technical features for the job at a cost-effective price point – and came with a flexible and no-haggling sales approach.

Ian was pleasantly surprised to discover that Opta was not only powerful and secure but also UL-certified, meaning it has met the standards required for safety testing in the United States. Even while costing a fraction of similar products on the market, Opta WiFi provided the ideal number of I/O and built-in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth® Low Energy connectivity, allowing it to integrate effortlessly into the existing control system platform – identified as a regular I/O device. The affordable price tag meant Ian could purchase multiple units while staying under budget and avoiding a cumbersome budget approval process.

Keep costs down without giving up quality: how open-source can save you thousands

Arduino has committed to an open-source approach since its foundation in 2005. The reasons for this choice were in part philosophical, but have turned into benefits that make perfect business sense for our professional clients worldwide.

  • Lower price point. Arduino offers customers the advantages of a major manufacturer’s economies of scale: compare features and save on your BOM (bill of materials). But the price tag is only the beginning of your savings!

  • License included. Sky-high yearly license fees can bog down your budget. With Arduino you don’t need to pay for licenses… because there are none. That’s one great reason to love open source.

  • Limit NREs. Non-recurring engineering costs drop when the platform you use is open and accessible, designed for ease of use and integration, and ready to go from prototype to full-fledged industrial solution.

  • No vendor lock-in. Our products are part of a growing ecosystem that includes hardware, software, and cloud services: it may offer everything you need – but you can always try something different without starting over or incurring huge switching costs because we use open-source software.

  • Extensive documentation. We publish everything that we think may help: tech specs, tutorials, inspiration, and more.

  • Huge community-sourced resources. Arduino has 30+ million active users, many of them happy to share their struggles and solutions with the world. Readily available libraries and examples are uploaded and updated constantly.

  • Effortless integration. Arduino products and services are designed to play nice with third-party solutions, integrating into existing infrastructures or with other brands’ components easily. So you can save through retrofitting, using what you already have, and working faster.

  • Lower labor costs. Arduino is accessible and easy to learn. Plus, someone on your team or in your R&D department is more than likely to already know how to use it: 680,000+ professional engineers currently identify Arduino as one of their core skills on LinkedIn.

  • Durability. Last but not least, we may cut prices but we never cut corners on quality. Our boards are tested one by one to ensure reliability and durability, saving you more money on replacements and maintenance over time.

Arduino Pro offers a wide range of industrial-grade hardware components for high-performance, reliable and versatile solutions.