Innovating with a Raspberry Pi: fast, simple and cheap
Innovation often starts with an idea, but it can be quite challenging to find out whether the idea actually works. A Raspberry Pi – a computer the size of a credit card – can offer a solution. The Dutch railways, among others, used the device for an innovation project.
The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer based on an ARM processor, which is manufactured and sold at low prices. The cheapest model is the small Raspberry Pi Zero, which costs less than six euros. However, most models range between 27 and 60 euros. The device offers many possibilities due to its open structure, and the use of a General Purpose Input/Output, USB ports, a DSI connector and a CSI connector.
For many developers, the Raspberry Pi is used for hobby projects, but it is also possible to work with it on a business level. “The Raspberry Pi can be used to loosen up teams’ thinking in innovation brainstorming sessions. And to make them act in technology-agnostic ways,” says Mark Griep, country manager of PA Consulting. “A Raspberry Pi is a good tool for showing something as a team. And it also prepares the business to think about what ideas can be explored. Moreover, it gives momentum to experimentation.”
Find a seat at NS
A good example of using a Raspberry Pi to experiment is its use in developing the NS Seat Finder. This function is part of the NS app and shows passengers where there is space in the train. “As NS, we know pretty well how many people are on the whole train, but that only tells us something about total occupancy. On longer trains, we often see that the front is full and the back is empty, or vice versa. We try to use all kinds of indirect data sources to determine how people have distributed themselves along the train," says Leo van der Meulen, Business Consultant Advanced Analytics and Product Owner at NS.