Lowdown: Raspberry Pi

Nick Hirst

One of the most remarkable tech trends of late has been the drop in cost of even the most bleeding-edge devices. Raspberry Pi, a new computing platform developed by a team of Cambridge academics and tech entrepreneurs, costs about £25 on Amazon.

It consists of a smartphone-sized circuit board with a processor, some RAM, and various connections including USB. It doesn't look like much, but it's a fully-functioning computer running Linux.

The thing that has got everyone excited is its open architecture. It's intended as a cheap tool to teach kids to code – but its simplicity and openness make it perfectly suited for all manner of hacks. Enterprising enthusiasts have built remote-controlled sailing boats and iPhone-controlled garage-door openers.

This openness has also attracted entrepreneurs, using the system to augment or automate other hardware. BrewPi, for example, is a Raspberry Pi-controlled fermentation system that controls a fridge and a light bulb to regulate temperature, while Shoop connects Raspberry Pi to an inkjet printer to deliver souvenir photos via wi-fi from your smartphone.