In 2006, a British computer scientist, Eben Upton felt that the syllabus for new computing undergraduates was, in his opinion, wrongly placing emphasis on how to use computers, rather than understanding the technical aspects of computing.
Off the back of this initial concern, he spent six years creating the Raspberry Pi, a cheap and accessible device, around the same size as a credit card that would help schools to teach concepts such as programming.
Initially, Upton’s project went relatively unnoticed until he posted a video of the early Pi on YouTube which racked up 600,000 views in just two days. From there, the project exploded.
Since its commercial release in February 2012, however, it has grown far beyond the sphere of academia.
Today the Raspberry Pi is a phenomenon. It’s the world’s third best-selling, general-purpose computer. If you’re interested in computers, chances are you’ve got one of the tiny boards tucked away somewhere. It’s inside laptops, tablets, and robots; it has run experiments on board the International Space Station; it has spawned a massive ecosystem of kits for learning about computers; and it has even broken into mainstream media, cropping up in TV shows like Mr Robot and movies like Big Hero 6. That’s not to mention the computers’ role in business, where they serve as everything from thin clients to industrial control systems.
But most importantly of all, it is achieving exactly what Upton set out to achieve. It has inspired students, developers and hobbyists to turn their dream concepts into wild projects without breaking the bank. And here are just a handful of the most creative, surprising and downright bizarre creations conceived in recent years.
A treasure box that unlocks using facial recognition
Adafruit, an open-source hardware company based in New York City came up with a brilliant concept brining the humble game of treasure hunt to next level. They created a treasure box that unlocks using facial recognition. The top of the box has a button-operated camera for the facial recognition which unlocks the box when it identifies a match. The project uses just four components – a Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi camera, the box and a push button.
The Magic Mirror
In 2014, Developer Michael Teeuw came up with a cool concept for a home project. He created a high-tech mirror that displays the weather, time and the days headlines while you’re getting ready for the day. It was a killer concept that later blossomed into a full open source project anyone can download and use. Since then Michael has developed the mirror further meaning it can now display all sorts of things from your photos to YouTube videos.
The Raspbinator 1.0
Some people dream up inspiring, fun or even life changing ideas, other people’s inventions just fall into the ‘bizarre’ category. Guess which one this is.
Hackster user Michael Darby came up with the Terminator-inspired ‘Raspbinator’. He took a skull-shaped tealight holder and placed a Raspberry Pi 3, a Raspberry Pi camera module and some other peripheral hardware to create a ‘robot’ head with facial recognition, chatbot functionality and a moving eye with a read light. Creepy or what?
You can actually check out his video on youtube to see the finished product in action (if you dare).
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could walk around to our own personal soundtrack that isn’t just playing in our heads. Well thanks to the Raspberry Pi, now we have the technology to give everyone their own entrance music.
Doorjam is a project created by Creative Agency, Redpepper. The project uses a portable stereo, a raspberry Pi, Bluetooth iBeacon receiver and a customised smartphone app. All you have to do is pick your entrance music via the Spotify API in the app and when the setup detects that you’ve entered the office, your theme song starts playing. It’s like a professional boxing walk out, but for accountants and data analysts.
An electric skateboard can easily set you back a cool £1,000, but with a little effort and a few quid to buy a Raspebrry Pi zero and a Wii remote, your old skateboard can be transformed and that’s exactly what Matt Timmons-Brown did (he goes by the name The Raspberry Pi Guy on Youtube). The DIY version might not look quite as slick, but it is capable of reaching 18 mph with a battery range of six miles.
You can check out the skateboard on Youtube here.
The humble Raspberry Pi was designed to rekindle the curiosity about computing in a generation immersed in technology but indifferent to how it worked, and it has certainly done just that. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before Blue Peter go from telling you how to design your own t-shirt or make your own plant pot to how to make your own tech creations – after all you only need a box, a push button and a Raspberry Pi.
Ever wondered where Raspberry Pi got its name from? Well wonder no more because we have the answer!
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s a tradition of ‘fruit naming’ took over the tech sector. Apple and Blackberry embraced this trend along with defunct brands such as Apricot Computers and Tangerine Computer Systems. The ‘Pi’ part came from the fact the company was planning to produce a computer that could only run Python.