The Raspberry Pi’s small size, price and lack of manufacturer restrictions makes it very flexible for a multitude of applications. With its easily accessible General Purpose Input/ Output (GPIO) pins, the mini PC can interface with a plethora of devices such as sensors, switches and other microcontrollers/ processors and I/O devices (Cawley 2019). Some of these applications include making a fully functional PC system, servers, robotics, gaming, education, making a streaming device and driving home security systems.
Cawley (2019) mentioned that the simplest and quickest thing one can do with a Raspberry Pi is set up a desktop or personal computing system, as it comes out of the box equipped with an HDMI port for display and USB connections for peripherals such as keyboard and mice. There is also a headphone jack and some versions also have either or both ethernet and wifi connections for the internet (Raspberry Pi Foundation 2019). Cawley (2019) also said that the device also has a microSD card slot so that the preferred operating system can be installed (usually linux distros).
One can use the Pi to create an HTML web server to host websites as mentioned by Klowsowski (2019). It can also be used to host game servers as well as create LAN printer servers that allow older printers to be added to wireless printer networks, whereas otherwise, they would have needed a wired connection (Cawley 2019). Cawley (2019) also advised that in conjunction with Plex software, one can also make a local media server which then can be accessed (for movies, audio and pictures) by another Raspberry Pi running on a TV, a smart TV or gaming console.
The Pi can be used as a robotics controller with some robotics development kits even coming with it (Edouard Renard 2017). Edouard (2017) also said that with the many interfaces of the device including the 40 GPIO pins, it allows easy connection of cameras, sensors, actuators and other hardware devices needed for a robot in whatever form it may be manifested. Programming and debugging of the automaton is easy as one can install any operating system including custom ones as well as the necessary coding.
Gaming and emulation of retro games is one of the more popular uses of the Raspberry Pi as there many “Do it yourself” kits that are available for purchase that facilitate this (Cawley 2019). The device is powerful enough to run older games and so is used to recreate/ mimic many of the older handheld game consoles as well as the larger ones. Developers also use the Pi to create and test their own games natively (Cawley 2019).
The Raspberry Pi Foundation (2019) said that one of the main intents of the Raspberry Pi at its launch was for the coding education industry. It was meant to help learn coding and development as it comes preloaded in its original operating system (Raspbian) with Scratch, a programming tool that allows for the simplified learning of coding (Cawley 2019). The Pi comes with kits with lights and other peripherals that the device can be programmed to manipulate so that learners can immediately see what their coding can do (Edouard 2017).
The device can be connected to a television without smart capabilities and allow it to function as if it was. This includes streaming video from streaming sites, smart remote control, reading/ writing to flash storage as well as browsing the web.
Instead of buying expensive home security systems, the Raspberry Pi allows one to develop one’s own system, add one’s own cameras and storage as well as allowing for smartphone/ email interfacing and notifications (Cawley 2019). A minimal motion detection system can be set up simply with a USB webcam, high capacity microSD or USB storage and software already developed by an active open source community as mentioned by Cawley (2019).
These applications are just but a small fraction of that which has and can be done with the Raspberry Pi. The thriving open source community of developers and hobbyists further expands the portfolio of the device making the Raspberry Pi relatively easy and efficient (as a lot of the software for specific purposes are already openly available) to work with.
Cawley, Christian. 2019. “26 Awesome Uses for a Raspberry Pi.” MakeUseOf. makeuseof.com. December 10, 2019. https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/different-uses-raspberry-pi/.
Edouard Renard. 2017. “7 Reasons to Use Raspberry Pi for Your Robotics Project - Niryo.” Niryo. January 12, 2017. https://niryo.com/2017/01/7-reasons-to-use-raspberry-pi-for-your-robotics-project/.
Klosowski, Thorin. 2019. “Why We Love the Raspberry Pi.” Wirecutter: Reviews for the Real World. The Wirecutter. July 12, 2019. https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/raspberry-pi/.
Raspberry Pi Foundation. 2019. “Raspberry Pi — Teach, Learn, and Make with Raspberry Pi.” Raspberry Pi. 2019. https://www.raspberrypi.org/.