When the ultra-affordable, credit-card sized Raspberry Pi chip first became available in 2012, its potential quickly became clear. Not just an educational tool or a neat toy for hackers to tinker with, this little computer had a big future: five years (and five versions) later, its potential has been realized.
The Raspberry Pi has now become the basis for a series of impressive and well-funded ventures in a variety of sectors. Here’s a rundown of some of the fresh-baked enterprises vying for a piece of that pie.
Economic sector: Environmental science
Funding story: After initial grants from Cambridge University, the company has since raised over £15,000 ($18,500 USD) in funding.
What they do: A simple, lightweight, low-cost water testing kit for developing communities. With a 3D-printed microscope hooked up to a Raspberry Pi chip, the WaterScope can quickly and effectively tell you if your water’s safe to drink—something that’s still of severe concern for hundreds of millions of people each day.
Company: NEC Display Solutions
Economic sector: Electronic displays
Funding story: NEC has been a leader in large-format displays for years. The company recently announced that it will launch a line of Raspberry Pi-enhanced displays (up to 98 inches) in 2017.
What they do: A range of smart, IoT-connected displays for business, that are customizable, potentially upgradable, and thanks to the presence of the Raspberry Pi, relatively inexpensive.
Economic sector: Education
Funding story: After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Piper secured a funding round of $2.1 million from a handful of investors, including Princeton University and the cofounder of Skype.
What they do: DIY computer kits for kids. Students can assemble their own working computer and build up to a special treat: a custom edition of Minecraft that lets them solve engineering puzzles. Playing video games in class has rarely been this rewarding.
Company: Western Digital
Economic sector: Hard drives
Funding story: WD is already one of the largest data storage companies in the world, and they’re targeting a large group of users with their new line of PiDrive Foundation Edition drives.
What they do: Designed specifically for the Raspberry Pi, these ultrathin, low-cost drives give tinkerers a lot more storage to play with, as well as the ability to quickly switch between operating systems. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts point out that the combination could make these drives an ideal setup for dedicated Bitcoin nodes.