If there’s only one lesson we can learn from watching Amazon and Wal-Mart over the past two decades, it’s that data collection and analytics are keys to success in today’s optimized world. The “The Internet of Things” is all about gathering more data from the world around us, analyzing it, and using that data to empower our decisions.
Best of all, the devices that enable this new era of computing are available and affordable today. Here are some of the most popular options.
Intel Compute Stick – All you need is an HDMI TV or monitor and a power supply. When you add a keyboard and mouse, the Intel Compute Stick can replace a desktop or laptop…. however, it’s a bit underpowered for that role. Over 60% of Compute Sticks in the wild are deployed as non-traditional devices, used for digital signage, kiosks, data collection, and more. These are available in retail with Windows 10 starting at $99.
Raspberry Pi 3 – The wildly popular $35 Raspberry Pi is a small yet powerful computer designed to teach young students about software development. It’s not a complete device like the compute stick – you’ll need to supply your own memory card, case, and power supply – nor is it “PC compatible”. However, it does support several versions of Linux, and Microsoft has recently started releasing the embedded version of Windows 10 for these devices.
Raspberry Pi generated a lot of buzz last November when a new $5 edition – called Raspberry PI Zero – was released on the cover of a magazine.
Arduino – For hobbyists, makers, and mad scientists, the Arduino is an excellent microcontroller-based prototyping platform. To take advantage of it, you would have to be comfortable developing low-level software — but for cheap devices that can do one job and do it well, you can’t beat the price and flexibility.
Edison – Sometimes you need a bit of logic and flexibility behind those devices. Intel’s Edison is a System on a Chip, wrapping the power of a computer from 1996 into a package smaller than your camera’s memory card. When integrated with Arduino break-out boards, you can combine your prototyped projects with the power of the cloud, opening up collected data to the latest analytic tools.