6 Amazing Ways The Raspberry Pi Is Making A Difference

James Bruce 10-12-2013

I’ll try to avoid techno-babble words 7 Technology Buzzwords That Need To Die The Cloud. Web 2.0. Meme. What do these words even mean? At this point, hardly anything: they've all switched from being useful terms to pointless buzzwords. Read More like “disruptive” when I say this, but there’s no denying – Raspberry Pi is changing the world. We’ve looked at some cool Raspberry Pi projects Raspberry Pi Projects: A Car With Night Vision, Google Glass-like Translation, And More We’ve previously looked at some excellent uses for this British minicomputer, but the fact is that it is just so versatile that there is always something amazing to talk about. Who would have thought that... Read More before, and I even set up a basic home automation system Home Automation Guide With Raspberry Pi and Arduino The home automation market is flooded with expensive consumer systems, incompatible with one another and costly to install. If you have a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino, you can basically achieve the same thing at... Read More with the Pi. Now, it’s time to to look at some really amazing ways the Pi is making a difference.


Don’t forget to read our unofficial Raspberry Pi guide Raspberry Pi: The Unofficial Tutorial Whether you're a current Pi owner who wants to learn more or a potential owner of this credit-card size device, this isn't a guide you want to miss. Read More if you’re new to the system, and check out the 10 best resources for every Raspberry Pi owner 10 Best Resources for Raspberry Pi Owners What can you do with a Raspberry Pi? If you haven't figured it out yet, it's time to check the best online and offline resources. Read More .

Learn Coding

Google Coder is a Node.js What is Node.JS and Why Should I Care? [Web Development] JavaScript is a just a client-side programming language that runs in the browser, right? Not any more. Node.js is a way of running JavaScript on the server; but it's so much more as well. If... Read More app that turns a Raspberry Pi into a complete mini web-server for creating real web apps, with HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The real-time editor is great for seeing changes as you write the code, which is just perfect for educational uses.

Kano (KickStarter)

Kano is a complete kit for learning programming at a young age. Bundling together the hardware with a custom Linux distribution and implementation of Scratch visual logic designer, kids can learn how to build simple games like Snake or Pong – then swiftly move on to modifying Minecraft!

The sad fact is that our current education system is letting kids down when it comes to preparing them for the modern Web-fueled world we live in – it’s only through efforts like these that we can change that. You can still fund the Kano project until December 19th, so perhaps it’s time to take things into your own hands.



Wolfram and Mathematica

Wolfram Alpha is a computational knowledge engine that’s been Web-based for a while – now it’s available as a programming language, and free, on Raspberry Pi. If you’ve never used Wolfram Alpha, try this – “population growth by country“. Here’s Stephen Wolfram himself to explain why this is all amazing (warning: over an hour long)

Also bundled is Mathematica, which is a powerful mathematical language for data modelling, graphing, and dealing with complex equations, as well as acting as the front-end GUI for the Wolfram Language. One thing I do know: I probably wouldn’t have done so badly in my A-level Statistics if I’d had Mathematica.

By putting these tools on the Pi, the languages are also able to interact with sensor data and output devices. These are exciting times: the singularity is near.

Educating in Hostile Environments

Being a female in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Taliban-infested countries is not a fun experience: many are denied access to education, sold into slavery or married when they are still young, destined for a life of servitude to a man they will never love. Malala Yousafzai is just on such girl – shot in the head at the age of 12 for her relentless campaigning for access to education. She has since recovered, and now resides in Birmingham, leading a worldwide campaign to get all girls into school by 2015. Even if the dangers of terrorist organisations are dealt with, there still remains the severe lack of funding for IT equipment – which is where projects like this IndieGoGo campaign come in (in conjunction with Trust in Education, and now fully-funded). A complete Pi computer with peripherals can be built for under $200, making the prospect of equipping these schools for global connectivity a reality.


I’m confident that through education we can solve many of the worlds problems, from overpopulation to the stranglehold of terrorism.

One of the existing labs set up by Trust in Education

Drone Hacking: SkyJack

Amazon recently announced they’re working towards 30-minute drone delivery of packages Amazon Delivery Drones, Facebook Hack, Kindle Fire Vs iPad Air [Tech News Digest] Amazon aerial drones, Facebook friends list hack, Google Nexus handsets vulnerability discovered, Black Friday numbers are released, Steam introduces user reviews, and the Kindle Fire HDX is compared favorably to the iPad Air. Read More . Regardless of the reality of this – it’s doubtful they’ll even be licensed by the FAA. Someone has already invented air-piracy with a Raspberry Pi-powered drone hacking device. The rogue drone (A Parrot AR 2, reviewed by myself here Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Review and Giveaway The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is the most expensive remote control toy money can buy; it’s a smartphone controlled quadrocopter with a 720p HD camera, and it’s ridiculously fun, but quite temperamental. What follows is... Read More ) locates signals used to control the delivery drones, flies in close, then hijacks and overpowers the signal, gaining full control of the delivery.

I developed a drone that flies around, seeks the wireless signal of any other drone in the area, forcefully disconnects the wireless connection of the true owner of the target drone, then authenticates with the target drone pretending to be its owner, then feeds commands to it and all other possessed zombie drones at my will.

I class this as amazing from a purely technical standpoint of admiration – clearly, this does no good for the world and you’d have to be of a pretty low moral standard to actually use it – but still, there’s no denying it is amazing.


Block Nuisance Calls

Full PBX systems for call handling are ridiculously expensive – but add a $30 telephone-to-VOIP adapter to your Raspberry Pi and it’ll be just as capable as a $500 system, if not more. One popular use of DIY PBX systems is to block nuisance calls – you can add blacklists, whitelists, or just block anything that refuses to reveal their number or comes from international sources. Here’s one such Raspberry Pi setup using Asterisk. This might not sound that amazing, but if you get 5-10 nuisance calls a day, it can be life-changing, and might stop elderly relatives from being scammed by fake support calls What Should You Do After Falling For A Fake IT Support Scam? Search for "fake tech support scam" and you will understand how common it is across the world. Some simple precautions after the event could help you feel less of a victim. Read More .

With my own child on the way next year, the educational potential is what excites me the most (alright, I’m lying – I want to hack drones). There’s no doubt in my mind that coding, and the maker spirit, is by far the most important skill I’ll be able to impart upon them. Anything that makes that learning process fun has my approval, and the Raspberry Pi is a perfect match.

Related topics: Education Technology, Raspberry Pi, Scratch.

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  1. Nauman Mithani
    January 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    It certainly is true and it is certainly disturbing. However, this is not the only scenario or the complete picture.

    That is my objection with the article.

    One more example is that there was a girls-only school a few minutes away from my school.

  2. Nauman Mithani
    January 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I suggest of the section about girls' education in countries like Pakistan. Such problems occur in many rural areas of the country, but not all; they also occur in urban areas but even less.

    Nothing is ever so black-and-white or so dramatic!

    We are Pakistani. My mother has a college degree, one of my female cousins is now a fund-raiser for a private school in Vancouver, another female cousin has a Masters in Commerce, girls who graduated from our co-ed religious school with me are now registered nurses or bank managers in their secular professions.

    Shall I go on?

    • Nauman Mithani
      January 3, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Sorry, the first sentence ought to be: "I suggest the section about girls' education in countries like Pakistan be revised."

    • James B
      January 3, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      I'm glad you've experienced the better side of things, but that certainly doesn't make what I wrote any less correct. The fact that they occur at all should be disturbing enough.

  3. Andrea F
    December 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    It takes so long for education systems to catch up - training teachers, designing and approving curriculums etc. By the time a decision is made, a new technology is out making what is decided on almost redundant. I see the future of education as being online - mass education is a relic of the past. Glad to see Kano making a difference.

    • dej
      December 29, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Yes Andrea, you are right on so many points. Millions of other families have also concluded what you have and are actively seek privatized education, homeschooling, internet-based education -or a mix of these- for their families and are coming away with very positive results.