Wearable Multitouch Interaction
Posted 29 October 2011 - 11:30 AM
Posted 29 October 2011 - 01:35 PM
As far as needing a big computer goes, I suggest you look at the $25 credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi ($35 with built-in ethernet, a second USB channel for both host and slave modes and more RAM)
It's not as powerful as a desktop, but may approach some notebooks, and can run desktop applications (under linux). It plugs directly into any HDMI monitor, and can use keyboards, mice etc. But it's a mistake to compare it to primary desktops and laptops. It is meant to be a hobbyist/hacking platform for educational settings, to prepare today's youth for the future of electronics.
The initial run (slated for Nov/Dec) will be breakeven at about 10K units. A subsequent run of the same size would be cheaper, and a larger run, cheaper still. Once there is a community of more ardent enthusiasts working with it and developing projects/expertise they can share with others, the project will move to "buy one, share one" with each purchase (at a somewhat higher price) paying for both the user's unit *and* a unit donated to a school.
Unlike other large projects that have used this model (like the OLPC "One Laptop Per Child") this platform has strongly resisted feature creep, and has therefore stayed in budget. It is also not limiting its donations to disadvantaged nations -- in fact, its English designers specifically made it for UK and other "first world" schools. More affluent students/schools can afford to buy a larger number of units at book price, and fairly painlessly subsidize less advantaged students/schools; students with less technically proficient staff can turn to the internet hobbyist community for help and suggestions.
Though I have been incorporating similarly sized MCUs in my projects this past year (after 20 years of having "learn MCUs" on my to-do list, some of which are even cheaper, the Raspberry Pi is a real milestone in cost, performance, open design, a full OS (Linux) and soon, a full community. I've been a part of "pop-up communities" that arose when companies abandoned or liquidated a product line, and It's hard to overstate their vigor and innovation (I saw some late-90s Webplayers on eBay this week, and was tempted to buy them. I still use two of them in my lab today, withthe basic innovation of that long-forgotten pop-up community) Raspberry Pi is designed to create a permanent community, where more effort can be devoted to creating than hacking the "closed" hardware/software, and sustained availability of the platform at a cheap price keeps the community going (vs. a limited liquidation)
I expect this to become one of my primary development platforms for projects in the coming year. It won't supplant the (much cheaper) MSP430 family for embedding in non-CPU projects, and it doesn't have the pin-accessible funstionality and ease of design of Arduino but I can see it achieving the wide support hat Arduino has, with an even broader base, due to its comparable cost and much greater capability.
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