I generally write about radios and older projects here, but I do in fact work on a lot of other projects as well. This one is pretty interesting, a new and intriguing product that stands a very solid chance at becoming a very interesting force in low-end computing is on the verge of making it to market: the Raspberry Pi. It’s a pretty simple concept: a $25 single-board computer with an ARM chip about as powerful as a mid-level cell phone, some RAM, and a few interfaces. Not a very powerful device, but it’s designed to facilitate teaching computer science in schools.
It doesn’t look like much, but it has a network port, HDMI and TV outputs, two USB ports, audio, and a variety of serial GPIO ports. The educational uses of it aren’t very interesting to me…but the possibility of a reasonably capable computer that can be programmed in high-level languages and used to create complex applications on the cheap is incredibly exciting. I’m interested in using these to develop a variety of “appliance” type network applications, passive single-purpose complex devices that could be produced for under $100-200/set including all the other parts.
Connectivity appliances? Home security and automation terminals? New communications devices? Weatherproof terminals to web browse in the shower? The possibilities are endless – this tiny device needing only 3.5W of power to run, it can happily run from a cell phone charger or even a battery.
I’ll be the first in line to pick up a pair of these. Granted, I’m not at all excited about the fact it runs Linux as that means I’ll have to learn a new platform and environment to accomplish much, but I think it might actually be worth it to do so.
If you had a tiny fanless networkable PC, what kind of homebrew projects would you want to see?