The Raspberry Pi is quickly becoming the de-facto standard for single-board computer prototyping. This wild success has only increased the demand for a clear path to commercialization when the prototype gains stakeholder interest. Hallsten Innovations has traveled that path and we want to share some wisdom we have learned along the way.
Let’s start at the beginning in the prototype stage.
Why is Raspberry Pi Desirable for Prototyping?
In the brief history of electronics, never has a platform been so broadly adopted by hobbyists, designers, inventors, and investors. From well-spec’d hardware to the plethora of existing software, Raspberry Pi has staked its hard-won claim with a robust community of support.
The Pi platform brings many tools to a developer’s toolbox…
- A mature and fully functional Linux OS with excellent developer tools, documentation, and user community
- Availability of pre-packaged, ready-to-use options for developing devices with or without displays (desktop/HMI vs. headless)
- Prototype-friendly form factors with ample ports made for human fingers, a standardized I/O header, and easy 5 & 3.3V power connections
- Well-documented developer API’s for CSI camera interfaces
- One or more communication standards for the device to communicate with additional peripherals (I2C, SPI, UART, etc.)
The napkin-to-prototype timetable of Raspberry Pi-based innovations is matchless because of the huge body of available resources, code examples, and reference designs. Hallsten Innovations sees prototyping as an indispensable tool to garner user feedback as soon as possible – whether that test user is your customer, your boss, or your investor. The faster we can adapt to stakeholder feedback with a physical manifestation, the better.
The Raspberry Pi’s Continued Path to Commercialization…
The Raspberry Pi Compute Module is the next step in the commercialization of a Pi-based design. It’s a safe choice as the Raspberry Pi Foundation has developed this product to bring the benefits of Pi to your commercialized product with a guaranteed 7 years of supply chain availability.
The RPi Compute Module designed into a perfectly-tailored custom board is a powerful approach that we have used with great commercial success. Also the ability to leverage prototype-stage software has clear advantages. That’s what I call a WIN/WIN. – Jon Hallsten, CEO, Hallsten Innovations
The core features of standard RPi varieties are all accessible via a single standardized 200-pin interface connector.
- Fast, multi-core ARM processor with integrated GPU
- Dynamic Voltage Frequency Scaling for managing current draw/heat
- Ample RAM for Kernel and User space headroom
- eMMC flash (numerous size options or micro SD alternative available)
- Multiple UART, SPI, I2C
- Extensive GPIO
- External memory and storage interfaces
- USB Host and On-The-Go
- CSI camera interfaces (multi-lane)
What Do Our Customers Like Best About our Product Development Approach?
Our customers have identified five specific benefits:
- Building on the Raspberry Pi Code Base – Minimizes firmware and software development.
- Shorter Time To Market – Risk is down, speed is up.
- Longevity Of Design – We have ‘upgraded’ client project hardware simply by upgrading the Compute Module model number. That’s not even fair to the competition.
- Tiny Package – This killer hardware is so small, it’s often the smallest (yet most valuable) component in any enclosure we develop.
- Future-Proofing – Seven years of availably and support covering 80% of our hardware design means that we’ve drastically reduced the risk of obsolescence, focusing it on the platform-specific elements of the product.
Example Portfolio Project Spotlight
A great example of starting with a Pi-based prototype and taking it all-the-way through commercialization with the Compute Module is a custom SmartHome Gateway taken from our product portfolio.
In the design, we combine the best custom elements specific to the product (multiple radio technologies, PoE+, battery back-up, etc) with the best “off-the-shelf” production-grade processing power of the RPi Compute module, all while preserving the client’s significant software investment. Or said in another way, we married the best of a custom-tailored design with the off-the-shelf power of the RPi Compute Module for an optimized solution that lowered our client’s risk and costs.
Bottom-Line: We Can Accelerate Your Time to Market for any RPi-Based Design!!!
We’re evangelists for the commercialization approach outlined here as we’ve done it with great success for others and can do it for you too. We look forward to earning your trust as a solution partner.