PSFK speaks to Eben Upton to try to understand how the Raspberry Pi could revolutionize the PC market, much like the iPhone changed mobile.
The Raspberry Pi is a very basic looking micro-board that hides a sophisticated computer – the UK developers behind the computer expect other companies, hackers and DIYers to add their own peripherals and even casing. What’s buzzing the technology scene is the price. At $25 plus shipping, the inventors believe that the Raspberry Pi can revolutionize education – but they don’t expect its impact to just stop there. PSFK spoke to the Executive Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Eben Upton, about what he and his team had created and the changes it might help create.
OK. The dumb question: Why does your computer look like one of those cards you stick in the back of a desktop computer? It’s not quite as cute as an iPad. Where’s the shell?
We’re expecting community members to design (and sell) their own shells for the device. In fact, both our distribution partners (element14/Premier Farnell and RS Components) will be marketing their own shells too.
How does its technology compare to say the power in my laptop or even my smartphone?
I’d say it’s about as powerful (from a CPU perspective) as a last-generation smartphone. From a multimedia perspective, it’s about as powerful as the most powerful smartphones currently available, and rather more powerful than some laptops.
It seems like the big drive is to help education. You’re providing a super-low cost computer with decent power. How do you see the Raspberry Pi changing learning?
We’re hoping that this is a cheap enough and powerful enough platform that children will choose to use it outside the classroom. I had a programmable computer in my bedroom as a child, and that was certainly a big motivator for me.
You have almost 200,000 orders. Congrats. Amazing. Of course, there are people who are going to use these computers for other things apart from education. What other uses do you see for the Raspberry Pi?
Lots of things – home automation, robotics, media playing, even aeronautics applications.
We think of the “Internet of Things” and how these computers could empower (enrich?) a network of smart sensors. Do you think they’d employed in such a way?
Absolutely, though I think there may be lower power platforms (such as Arduino) which are better suited to this space.
You seem to be one of the few UK start-ups to really create excitement on the global tech scene recently. Are there any other Brit projects we should be keeping an eye on?
I’d nominate Neul (www.neul.com), who are working on silicon for whitespace radio applications; think wide-area (10km) networking with a chipset that costs the same as a current WiFi chip, targeted at the M2M internet of things application you mention above.