Mar 012014
 

LCD Display for Raspberry Pi – the Foundation’s first steps

Gordon Hollingworth was hinting at a new interesting product being prepared for the Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg. We had the chance to see it at both the Farnell and the Toshiba booths.

The Raspberry Pi foundation has an interesting concept, as always:

Toshiba has a chip which converts the Raspberry Pi’s display port to a more generic parallel interface. The drivers – to program which you need to sign NDAs – have been developed by the Foundation, and are freely available.

The Foundation (according to Farnell, and Gordon H. ) will bring two displays to market during this year – a 7 ‘’ display with a low resolution, and a high-resolution 10’’ display. Both are supposed to have touch capabilities. These displays should be ready and in stock with Farnell in three to six months. I assume that RS Components will also stock them, as this is clearly a core extension for the Raspberry Pi.

Developers free to roll their own

Any other developer / entrepreneur, though, can basically source the Toshiba chip and interface it with a display of their choice – even before the Foundation will get to market with their displays.

Here are some pictures of this display:

raspberry-pi-foundation-development-board-display

 

This picture (click to enlarge) shows the Raspberry Pi foundation’s development board, along with a LCD display.

toshiba-raspberry-pi-adapter-chips

Picture showing the setup at the Toshiba booth.

There are two chips which are being demoed. Both carry unique business opportunities with them.

Toshiba HDMI to MIPI CSI2 bridge chip TC358743XBG

This chip (on the pcb developed by the Foundation) connects an Android PC, which plays a movie / runs a 3D rendering (teapot) over HDMI to the Raspberry Pi’s camera port, thus allowing the Raspberry Pi to capture HDMI input (also an idea which will open up many use cases – for instance pass-through recording and streaming of your favourite Playstation games!)

Toshiba MIPI DSI to DPI display chip TC358762XBG

This chip converts the Raspberry Pi’s Display Serial Interface (DSI) to a parallel interface (DPI). (“De-serializer display bridge for connectivity of panels using legacy parallel interface to the Baseband or Application Processors with MIPI® Display Serial Interface

read more about DSI on Wikipedia, and the TC358762XBG product brief.

 

NFC Board for the Raspi

This board has been on the market for a couple of weeks (maybe even months) already. pi3g actually won one sample board, courtesy of Farnell Smile 

NXP Technology provides the NFC chip used on this board. The board’s design is a bit unlucky (very big), and it won’t fit in many “normal” cases on the market, for instance the TEK-BERRY cases we use.

The guys from NXP assured me that it should be no problem to source the chip and alter the board’s design to a smaller board, though. The NFC antenna (which can be seen on the left in the following picture) can include other electronic components in the free space inside, and also components could go on the bottom of the board.

nfc-module-nxp

I see NFC as a very promising technology, and the Raspi is ready to be the first networked NFC reader under 100 € system cost.

 

 

Internet of Things

There are many companies and platforms being shown / developed / available for “Internet of Things” applications. These devices will have  a small custom applications processor, programmable, and with a small amount of RAM. They are then connected via WiFi to your home network, cloud solutions / or provide a built-in webhost for control via your smartphone / tablet.

A very important thing is the initial programming of your WiFi credentials into these devices. There are several solutions emerging. Apple is rolling their own (apple certified devices, which include a proprietary Apple chip, and just “show up” on your iOS devices – especially more present since iOS 7), but there is another interesting option available: BTE.

BTE is Bluetooth Low Energy, and basically is expressly built for such scenarios (of low-data transfer, low-power devices). BTE devices can be set up by the manufacturer to show up on any Smartphone (with built-in BTE – if you have Bluetooth 4.0 you have it), and be accessible without any code / authentication necessary.

You could now use an App to connect via BTE to the new device, set up your WiFi connection credentials, and once the WiFI connection works, and maybe a password is set, the BTE connection will be disabled alltogether. It would only be available again pressing a “factory reset” button.

I do not believe that the Raspberry Pi is a good platform for Internet of Things in mass-production / consumer devices. We need a smaller platform for these applications, with less processing resources, and lower power usage.

For enthusiasts, who want to experiment in this direction, and directly interface with the computer, the Pi is great, though!

Maybe we will build a “Internet of Things” platform on which you can develop your own application / this could also be a great idea to put on Kickstarter / … .

 

Riotboard

The highlight of the fair!

This is what Model C of the Raspberry Pi should be like, if it ever would be published. Technical specifications include:

  • ARM Cortex A9 MPCore Processor at 1 GhZ
  • HD video decoder
  • OpenGL ES 2.0 3D graphics accelerator, 2D accelerator
  • 1 GB DDR3 RAM
  • headphone / microphone (!) jack
  • LVDS, HDMI, Parallel RGB interface
  • four USB ports
  • barrel power connector (not micro USB)
  • 4 GB Flash on-board
  • GBit LAN port
  • GPIO connector

This board runs Android and Ubuntu Linux, at impressive speeds. Web browsing, PDF viewing is quite fluent with it.

The GBit port, and the four USB ports make it a good NAS / home cloud system base board. Further possible applications include Thin Clients, stand-alone web browsing stations, and build-your-own media centres. It should also run web applications more fluently than the Pi. With the built-in flash, you could even make do without an additional SD card.

All this very attractively priced, and available now through Farnell (and soon through us, maybe).

Have a look at the spec sheet. (PDF, 12 MB)

We are seriously considering adding this board to our portfolio as a high-end SBC solution, where the Raspberry Pi simply has insufficient compute power.

Here’s a photo:

riotboard

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