Levine, a self-taught programmer who worked on the company from his parents’ house in Cape Cod, used the credit-card-size computer, an accompanying development kit, and Ada Fruit tutorials to hack together the first version of Electric Objects. It took him about four days to teach his laptop to send an image to his “product,” which at that time consisted of a Pi and a monitor ordered off of Amazon.
“I have no experience with anything remotely hardware,” he said. “On the basis of a few tutorials, a bunch of Google searching, and many hours banging my head, I was able to get this prototype running.” With a few more weeks of programming, Levine had something legitimate enough to show venture capitalists. He plans on shipping the $299 screen to his hundreds of Kickstarter supporters in May of next year.
…”The compute module is going to be very central to our plans going forward,” Eben Upton, one of the founders of the Pi Foundation, said. The compute module is a slimmed down version of the Pi. The theory is that the new form factor will attract even more hardware startups not to just prototype with Pi, but mass-produce products with Pi inside.
For all of its benefits in the prototyping phase, the Pi isn’t ideal beyond that because it wasn’t designed to exist inside hardware; it’s bulky. “When you design a product, you want to focus on the form factor,” Dave Rauchwerk, the creator of the hackable digital camera Otto, said. “If the guts you have to put inside are very large, then the object has to be large.” Although a handful of products, including Droplet, have conformed to the unruly Pi shape, it often results in a bigger, uglier, and more expensive product. (Electric Objects is forgoing the Pi for its final product.)
“When you want to make something that is attractive to consumers you have to reduce the physical volume and that’s the awkward step,” Upton said. “That’s what the compute module has been designed to overcome.” …
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