"IT is moving from being a back office overhead to the front office where it is a means of creating value."
alan young and alisa thompson, PA it transformation experts
5 June 2013
Frazer Bennett, PA technology expert, has been interviewed for a Financial Times podcast which explores the impact that the Raspberry Pi – a £25 credit-card-size computer – is having on the world of technology. The podcast looks at how the Raspberry Pi, initially developed with education in mind, is now being used as a simple and cheap way to create prototypes for new connected products that could prove to be the beginning of the ‘internet of things’.
Frazer explains why the Raspberry Pi holds such a large appeal for business: “The Raspberry Pi is a very low-cost Linux computing platform. It was developed to try and inspire the next generation of engineers, who might want to explore building all sorts of different things, both hardware and software, so it’s a very flexible platform that enables people to do what they like.”
Frazer goes on to reveal why – even though PA’s research teams have access to expensive and incredibly sophisticated technology – they frequently use the Raspberry Pi in their work: “Like anyone, we want to be able to explore ideas very quickly, so the Raspberry Pi is brilliant as a rapid prototyping tool, and we can go from nothing to a demonstration very quickly… We can give a Raspberry Pi to every one of our scientists and engineers to play with and explore ideas with. In product development for the medical community, the communications community and defence, it enables us to very quickly get a demonstration in front of our customers.”
Frazer explains that the potential of the Raspberry Pi lies in its ability to offer an incredibly cheap and flexible platform on which to develop custom-made products: “In any product development it’s good to be able to get a proof of concept quickly… but then depending on the specific environment or application you are working to, you would probably find a more appropriate platform to build the product itself.”
Discussing how PA ‘shrunk’ a mobile phone base-station into a Raspberry Pi, Frazer says: “The object of this project was to demonstrate what the Raspberry Pi could do. We chose the Raspberry Pi because it’s well known, well understood, accessible and available… it’s a great way of demonstrating what’s possible with these emerging, very low cost yet high-performance platforms.”
On the possibilities the Raspberry Pi offers for the next generation of engineers, Frazer explains:
“We need to try tens of thousands of different ideas… and in a Darwinian sense, what will emerge are the winning ideas. I think that this is how we will see the ‘internet of things’ emerge.”
Frazer concludes: “The next chapter in this astonishing story of the internet will be written by our kids, so we need to use their creativity and their playfulness to invent what this next internet is going to look like. The Raspberry Pi and other platforms like it, and the community that sits around them – that’s what is going to create the next chapter of the internet.”
You can listen to the podcast here. The interview begins 55 seconds into the podcast.