Have you heard of this new computer that’s the size of a deck of cards? If you haven’t heard of the Raspberry Pi, the higher-end model sells for $35 (lower end sells for $25) and is comparable in power and performance to a modern smartphone. These days, that’s fairly powerful. The Pis run slightly modified versions of Linux (off of a SD card) and there’s work being done to make sure Android is compatible. It’s capable of HD video and digital sound thanks to an HDMI port. If you have an older TV, there’s also a RCA video port and a headphone jack. They’re so energy efficient you can run them off of four AA batteries.
The Raspberry Pi was originally developed for kids to learn programming at home and at school, where parents and administrators may be wary to teach what is becoming a fundamental skill due to fear of damaging expensive computers. The hacker enthusiast crowd snatched up most of the initial 10,000 units from the first production run in a mere few hours.
If you’re not already a bit excited by the sound of this device, consider that low-cost, powerful computing is where we’re headed as a society. This changes everything. Now, developing nations will have access to computing resources. They’ll be coming online in the near future as well. People will be able to hack together all sorts of creative solutions such as arcade cabinet revivals, space cams with weather balloons, or a robotic video camera using a Roomba. It’s a brief introduction to Web 3.0, also known as “The Internet of Things”, which will see many items come online, everything from your TV, your fridge, and your toaster, to your car, your lighting, and maybe even your toilet.
I have two on order and am going to be using them to automate showtimes and show announcements at my drive-in movie nights. This will control music playback, intermission times, show starts, the projector’s power and settings, and status announcements via walkie-talkies. They should be delivered this week, just in time to head off for summer break and have a whole bunch of free time to hack away on them.