Since Monday the internet has gone wild with news of the Raspberry Pi 4. Raspberry Pi boards already inspire strong emotions in makers and educators, and early reviews are already raving that the Pi 4 is the first SBC that can effectively function as a PC, one board is able to run two 4K screens, a cluster of 18 boards is powering the Pi 4’s launch website – and the 1GB version still costs just 35USD.
What’s so exciting about the Raspberry Pi 4?
It’s like they’ve really listened to what people were asking for! The Pi 4 is so much faster. There’s additional memory, which allows you to pass data around more quickly. Another massive part is connectivity: you’ve now got full-speed internet and a USB-3 connection, which makes it more than three times faster in terms of data movement on and off the board.
Having multiple ways of getting data to and from your unit is good for many reasons, but it’s going to particularly enable monitoring and IoT. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m very excited about the Pi 4!
What can you do with the Raspberry Pi 4 that you couldn’t do with previous generations?
For example, if you’d wanted to play video through a Pi previously, you would have found that the display was constantly skipping. You used to need to make a lot of tweaks to see feedback. Now you can get updates in real time, on a 4K display. That’s the power of memory.
But the big thing is that you can really use the Pi 4 as an edge device. It’s now possible to perform a lot of AI tasks on the board, and just use the Cloud for images and storage. With real-time edge computing analysing data and automating responses, whole systems become a lot faster – and even if the internet is down, the solution will still work because it doesn’t rely on the Cloud.
As one of the first people to get your hands on a board, how have you been using it?
I’ve been working on a home security solution in my own house. I connected my Pi 4 to heat sensors to check for the presence of warm bodies. The Pi monitors the sensor readings and when it decides there is a person in the house it triggers a camera to start recording.
The Pi 4 is so fast that it can perform facial recognition in real time. I’ve input the data for my family and friends, which is stored on a connected NAS. The Pi compares the camera feed with these pictures and decides whether it ‘recognises’ the person.
I’ve connected the IoT devices involved in this solution through Mozilla’s WebThings, a local Cloud that allows me to keep my data inside my house. But I’ve also connected it to an external Cloud so the Pi can send visual feedback from the camera to my phone, so when the system is triggered I also get an alert and can check in remotely. This whole solution is managed by just one board!
What does this mean for the future of the Raspberry Pi?
The potential for industrial applications is huge. It’s a proven platform with a strong and active community around it, and the Foundation has guaranteed the ongoing availability and compatibility of the parts. These are important factors, because building a product at scale and then discovering a flaw, or that the technology has become redundant, could be disastrous.
Every major sensor maker is looking at edge computing now. With the power to create new tools and products that deliver and act on real-time feedback, I’m certain that the Pi 4 is going to transform the world of IoT, and most likely beyond.