Microcontrollers like Arduino and Raspberry Pi have become very popular in recent years, but their functionality is primarily aimed at hobbyists and coders, rather than being a small-scale computer in their own right. Now, a new product on Kickstarter looks set to make the idea of a microcomputer more attainable than ever.
That device is the CHIP, and it comes from Next Thing Co. It can do all the basic tasks you would expect from any other computer; you can use it to do some word processing, check your emails, even play video games — but this computer can be yours for just nine dollars.
For that price, you’ll get a tiny board that you can hook up to any monitor and keyboard and put to use. It comes pre-installed with a host of useful open source software, including LibreOffice, the Chromium web browser and coding tool Scratch. The device includes built-in wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, USB, micro-USB, and an audio jack. There’s also 4GB of flash storage. Notably, it’s missing an SDcard reader for easy storage expansion.
The device’s campaign page on Kickstarter describes it as the world’s first nine dollar computer, and if it works as it says it does, it will be a pretty impressive piece of tech. Obviously, other hardware like a display and a keyboard costs money too — but it’s a sure sign that we’re living in a future when you can buy a functional computer with a ten dollar bill and get change.
For a pledge of $49, you’ll also get a housing for the C.H.I.P. that makes it into a portable device, complete with a 4.3″ touchscreen and miniature QWERTY keyboard. A nifty design quirk allows you to slot a pencil through a small hole towards its base and use it as a kickstand.
The CHIP Kickstarter is attempting to raise $50,000 to fund the first production run of the device, and is set to run until June 6, 2015.