Technology always scales down as it progresses. From memory to phones and even drones that can fit in the palm of your hand, packing more power into smaller hardware is definitely a trend. The same is true for computers and motherboards, which is why the Raspberry Pi has become hugely popular in recent years.
The Raspberry Pi is cheap, accessible and versatile. Because of this it’s been utilised in many developing countries as a means of educating the local population about ICTs and teaching programming and coding skills with very little resources. It’s also been used in a variety of creative DIY projects, by amateur and professional enthusiasts alike, in a wide variety of fields such as machine learning and robotics. And while the Raspberry Pi is not the only single-board computer out there, it’s definitely the most popular, having sold over 12.5 million units in the last five years to become the third best-selling computer of all time.
So we know they’re popular and that they’re (relatively) powerful, but what has a Raspberry Pi actually been used for?
Ever wanted a mirror that could tell you the time, date, weather, news and let you know how handsome you are? That’s exactly what Michael Teeuw wanted when he set out to build his magic mirror. It’s made from one-way mirror glass mounted over a flat display device, which allows bright, white text to be shown through a black background. The result is a high-tech Snow White-esque looking glass that, while it won’t always tell you if you’re the fairest, it will let you know to bring an umbrella for those four o’clock showers.
Ever feel nostalgic about the earlier days of handheld gaming? When were Pokémon battles fought via a two cable-linked Game Boy Colors? If that’s you and you’re feeling wistful, then a Pi-Pocket is your dream come true. Made by Travis Brown at XodusTech, the modified Game Boy Color uses a Raspberry Pi to emulate not only Game Boy titles, but also allows you to play NES, Sega Master System and Linux titles such as Doom. They’re not even complicated to make; some basic coding knowledge and a lot of soldering are pretty much the most arduous parts.
This one requires a bit of technical know-how and isn’t a project for the faint of heart. Don’t let that deter you, though; it is achievable. David Hunt made one using an Adafruit touchscreen interface and a Sim900 GSM/GPRS module that allows the phone to make calls. It’s more of a passion project than any practical smartphone, but it’s relatively cheap to build; it costs around $160 in materials. Practical or not, it’s an actual working smartphone and a fun build if you have the time.