The Raspberry Pi is finally out... for some people. Unfortunately mine is still a bunch of components on a factory floor somewhere.
For those that have been on Mars, the Raspberry Pi is (in the Raspberry Pi foundation's own words):
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming. Raspberry Pi FAQ
The idea, as the quote says, is to foster use amongst kids and get them programming and using a computer to do something other than play around on Facebook. However the hobbyist and programming community has exploded with enthusiasm for the project. The idea of a capable machine that can run linux being sold for under 30 quid has got people wondering what they can do with it.
Anyway I'm still waiting for mine (ETA end of June), but in the meantime I've been collating my favourite examples of the cool things being done with Raspberry Pis by the lucky souls that have gotten their hands on one of the machines.
On this blog post you can see how the expEYES team in India are utilising the Raspberry Pi for the next version of their low cost science lab kit for "Young Engineers and Scientists". Encouraging more science and engineering amongst children is a key tenet of the Raspberry Pi foundation, and it's great to see the Pi being integrated with pre-existing (and already very excellent) initiatives.
The team at OpenElec have been working on getting XBMC media center running on the Pi. It's not quite stable but works fairly well at the moment. See here for a good blog post on the subject of getting it all up and running.
Arduino shields are hardware expansions to an Arduino microcontroller that give it extra abilities (such as Wifi or controlling DC motors). One smart guy has started work on Ponte, which is a hardware interface for these shields to be added straight onto the Pi. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.
My initial plans are for a bunch of the machines to form the backbone of my home media system. All running XBMC and being controlled by an Android tablet to deliver media all over the house. However beyond that, I've got vague ideas for a mame cabinet and an automated greenhouse system. Check back for future blog posts on these projects!