Raspberry Pi fans can now take advantage of Google’s AI technology
The Raspberry Pi is one of the most beloved pieces of tech ever built. The £35 micro-computer has been used in everything from DIY home automation projects to actual space missions aboard the ISS, and has an intensely passionate community of fans, makers and hobbyists surrounding it.
While devices like the Rasperry Pi Zero W have been met with an excellent response, the community is nevertheless eagerly awaiting the launch of the next fully-fledged addition to the Raspberry Pi family. Here’s everything we know so far.
Latest Raspberry Pi 4 News
04/05/2017: The Raspberry Pi can now harness the power of Google’s AI, thanks to a new add-on board.
Produced as part of a new collaboration between Google and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the Voice HAT (Hardware Accessory on Top) board allows users to voice control to their projects.
Budding makers will also have access to some of Google’s most powerful tools, include the Google Assistant SDK, which provides the brain behind Google’s AI helper, and the Google Cloud Speech APi which the company uses internally for speech recognition tasks.
The new Voice HAT boards are being given away with every copy of issue 57 of the MagPi, along with everything you need to get started with your first voice-controlled projects. Fans will have to be quick, though – this issue is expected to be very popular indeed.
10/03/2017: Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton has told IT Pro that the development of future devices like the Raspberry Pi 4 are likely to be made more difficult simply by the fact that hardware is reaching its technical limitations.
“We’re kind of at the end of the road for 40 nanometer,” he said in an interview. “There’s not much more you can do in that process, because ultimately you’re limited by thermals. In the end, you can add as much silicon area as you want, because if you can’t afford to toggle the transistors in the silicon because the thing will cook, then you can’t get any faster.”
However, Upton made it clear that this does not mean that the Raspberry Pi Foundation will be giving up on making hardware, saying: “I’d love to do more tinkering.”
Raspberry Pi 4 release date and availability
Fans will be disappointed to hear that the next iteration of the Raspberry Pi won’t be arriving until at least 2019. Eben Upton, co-creator and co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, has previously stated the current Raspberry Pi 3 would have a minimum life span of three years.
There is a possibility that the new Raspberry Pi 4 could be delayed beyond this, as the Foundation has effectively hit the limit of what can be achieved using the 40nm manufacturing process. Upton hasn’t given up, however, stating: “we’ll get there eventually”.
Whenever it does arrive, fans will need act quickly – with each new Raspberry Pi launch the products have faced massive demand and have quickly sold off their initial production run, and the Raspberry Pi 4 is almost guaranteed to do the same. Prospective buyers should also expect to receive a cap on the number of devices you are able to order at once, a measure to thwart potential scalpers.
Raspberry Pi 4 specs and features
Given the problems facing development, there’s still no word on the technical specifications likely to feature in the Pi 4. Given that the company is struggling to innovate with the current 40nm, it is likely we’ll see a switch to an alternate manufacturing process, offering more efficient silicon.
As for features, the Raspberry Pi 3 already includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, so we’re unlikely to see any substantial networking upgrades. You can also expect the form factor to stay the same, given the team’s focus on interoperability between Pi generations.
Ports are an area where we may see some real change. For example, USB Type-C can handle power, data, and video transfer – meaning that one USB-C port could do the job of every existing input found on the Pi 3.
Raspberry Pi 4 pricing
The biggest selling point of the Raspberry Pi is that it’s a fully-fledged computer that will set you back next to nothing in comparison to other computers on the market. The catch is that you’ll probably need to spend extra on peripheries, but those who like to tinker with their machines are presented with a decent enough spec for a fraction of the cost.
In keeping with the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s mission to provide everyone with an affordable computer, the Raspberry Pi 4 is very unlikely to cost more than the Raspberry Pi 3, which has a recommended retail price of £32.95.
Resellers like RS Components and the Pi Hut will also likely sell pre-packaged kits including an assortment of peripherals and adapters, which they’ve done for previous iterations.
26/01/2017: The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced Google will be helping integrate AI tools into Raspberry Pi, presumably coming out with the launch of Raspberry Pi 4.
The company is inviting developers to work with Google to introduce such features to the Raspberry Pi ecosystem and so has invited the Raspberry Pi community to give feedback via a survey.
“Hi, makers! Thank you for taking the time to take our survey,” Google wrote in its announcement. “We at Google are interested in creating smart tools for makers, and want to hear from you about what would be most helpful. As a thank you, we will share our findings with the community so that you can learn more about makers around the world.”
Whether developers would like to see facial or emotional recognition, speech-to-text translation or natural language processing, it looks likely Google is eager to help developers integrate such features into their Raspberry Pi innovations.
“The survey will help [Google] get a feel for the Raspberry Pi community, but it’ll also help us get the kinds of services we need,” the Raspberry Pi Foundation said.
It is encouraging everyone active in the community to fill out Google’s survey and help users get the tools they need.