If you explore the space where education meets information technology you’ll discover a buzz. Our fellow East Anglian technologists in Cambridge have been developing the Raspberry Pi a tiny affordable computer based on mobile phone technology.
The project is aimed at encouraging children to take up computer programming to fill what some see as a worrying skills gap in the UK's evolving knowledge economy.
Their hope is that an army of IT professionals will volunteer to start up after school clubs in their area - this is exactly what I did.
The core of the Raspberry Pi is a 'System on a Chip' which is based on the ARM architecture, known for its efficiency and low power consumption. The device runs its software from an SD card, like one you'd find in a digital camera, instead of a hard disk typically found in a computer. Instead of a traditional operating system such as Windows or Android, the Raspberry Pi uses a specially adapted edition of Debian Linux called Raspbian
The device by itself is not capable of much at all, but it does include two USB ports, an RJ-45 network jack, a HMDI port to connect to digital displays, a composite video connector to connect to older TV sets and a 3.5mm audio jack. This means it can be connected to the internet, TVs, monitors and projectors as well as any USB peripheral; keyboards, mice, cameras, finger-print scanners. The possibilities are limitless!
People all over the world have been using their Raspberry Pis to achieve a variety of tasks. From the BeetBox vegetable-conductive drum kit to a Nintendo Wiimote controlled robot to sending a Pi with a camera attached up into space. You can even play computer games on it too!
By Barry Broom