If you are a thinker, a mad scientist in the making or just a curious ADD person like me, the Arduino boards are just what you are missing in life.
Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple micro controller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.
Arduino can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. Arduino projects can be stand-alone, or they can be communicate with software running on your computer .
Arduino hardware can be used in Windows, Mac or Linux. The boards can be assembled by hand or purchased pre-assembled and the open-source IDE (programming environment) can be downloaded for free.
There’s a great starting guide at http://arduino.cc/en/Guide/HomePage, but I have also been recommended this book:
30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius
This guide shows you how to program and build a variety of projects with the Arduino microcontroller development system. Covering Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, it gets you up to speed with the simplified C programming you need to know–no prior programming experience necessary.
You can find more books and arduino boards and components on here.
Examples of what one can accomplish with Arduino: