Raspberry Pi to sell another million, some going into cars

It's being billed as a renaissance in UK coding and a timely reminder of how the hobby computer used to be about 30 years ago when eager youths, unafraid of the soldering iron and the impenetrable instruction manual, would while away the summer holidays in their rooms programming in BASIC. 64 kilobytes of RAM was for those with more money than sense. More likely a youth would have to make do with 8 or 16Kbytes.

According to co-founder of Raspberry Pi, Eben Upton (see our interview below) the creation of Raspberry Pi (a full Linux computer about the size of a credit card for US$25 or $35.00) was an overt attempt to get back to the coding ethos of his own youth and to re excite today's youth in the joys of austerity programming.

The numbers of young people wishing to take up software engineering have plummeted in the UK. Eben is certain that the right product, the right goals, and the right government and charitable push, can turn things around.

Certainly the Raspberry Pi selling in great number to individuals. The foundation says it officially shifted its millionth unit after about a year in January (see Eben - again - below) and it expects to sell another million units by July. Now it has also attracted the interest of big players who want to plant them into products as Internet of Things end-points.

One of these is Abalta Technologies, a software provider for the automotive industry. It has announced that it's supporting the Raspberry Pi with its WEBLINK "car connectivity solution". Abalta says the WEBLINK concept is to deliver a safe in-vehicle "app experience" of the sort users are now used to through their tablets and smartphones, but do it much cheaper using the Raspberry Pi than through using other hardware platforms.

The company says WEBLINK transforms smartphones to operate as the primary in-vehicle computing device. So WEBLINK, running on the Raspberry Pi, creates the car-friendly interface for the smartphone apps via an installed application server on the smartphone, connected across USB or WiFi.

Abalta has its eye on what it calls the "middle tier and economy" vehicle market. Up to now built-in car connectivity has principally been aimed at adorning the upper-end of the car market - Volvo, Mercedes and the like, along with the upper reaches of Ford and General Motors. But the Raspberry Pi is so cheap it can be fitted into just about any car but still be capable of providing that vital, safe, in-auto app experience. So if you find one in your hire car, you'll know your ride is a middle tier and economy one.

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