If the smart phone in your pocket is any indication, computers can be smaller than ever. Single-board computers, many the size of a credit card, are the natural extension of these technical innovations. One such innovation is the highly popular Raspberry Pi.
Released in 2012, the Raspberry Pi is a single-board Linux-ready computer that’s primed for configuration to address any number of business uses. Retailing for a scant $35, the latest version features built-in Wi-Fi & Bluetooth and can be interfaced with other devices via HDMI, USB, & GPIO. Here are 3 ways you can use a Pi to enhance your small business…
DIY Digital Signage
A digital sign can be a dynamic focal point for your front office – useful for displaying promotional messages or brand-related imagery. With a Raspberry Pi running one of the many presentation solutions available (such as Concerto ) and an HD TV, you have a wealth of options for how and what you’d like to show the world — from simple slideshows to video walls.
Pi’s small form factor, built-in HDMI out, and low power consumption make it ideal for this task. With a little Velcro you can attach your Pi to the back of the display, making your sign’s presentation seamless.
HD Security Cam
Many low-cost security cameras suffer from flimsy build-quality and poor support, while high-end options can cost well into the thousands. A Raspberry Pi with a camera board attachment, however, can give you the best of both worlds. Christoph Buenger’s Instructable is a good place to start. He’s taken a convincing dummy security camera and placed a Pi inside. The camera saves video to a convenient shared server, but only whenever its motion detector goes off, so as not to gobble up all your server’s disk space.
You can also incorporate any number of features like scheduling, Growl notifications, or even text messages. With all things DIY and Pi, the only limit is your creativity. One note of warning: be sure to have a firm understanding of the laws regarding workplace privacy before you install any security devices.
Small Footprint File Storage Server
The Raspberry Pi is ideal for a number of file serving solutions. When DropBox is too demanding of hard drive space, but a professional grade server is too large of an investment, a Wi-Fi enabled Pi with an external storage drive is just the tool you need. Whether as a backup drive for your Mac or PC, or just a shared document space for your office, Pi’s low power consumption and discrete form factor make it ideal for a growing office with simple needs.
Large files aren’t its strong suit, naturally, so you may need another solution if you plan to move big data or video files, but for the price of the Pi and a drive, you can have a highly customizable fully-featured file server.