Single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi have taken the world by storm and are being used in almost any situation imaginable. In a new open-access paper I published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, I now show these low-cost open-source computers are also increasingly being used in science and highlight how the Raspberry Pi can play a fundamental role to further revolutionise biological research.
By reviewing the biological literature, I found over a hundred empirical studies across the biological domain that implemented the Raspberry Pi in some way, both in the lab, the field, and in the classroom. The list of applications is almost endless, and ranges from weather stations, and automated bird feeders, to closed-loop learning devices, deep-sea recording systems, environmental monitoring tools, and wild-life camera traps.
The broad capabilities of the Raspberry Pi, combined with its low cost, ease of use and large user community make it a great research tool for almost any project. But despite its increasing uptake by the scientific community, the Raspberry Pi is not the common research tool that it actually could be.
To stimulate its uptake and help researchers integrate the Raspberry Pi in their work, I provide detailed recommendations, guidelines, and considerations, and developed a dedicated website (raspberrypi-guide.github.io) with over 30 easy-to-use tutorials.
I believe low-cost micro-computers like the Raspberry Pi are a powerful tool that can help transform and democratize scientific research, and will ultimately help push the boundaries of science. I therefore hope my paper will help generate more awareness about the Raspberry Pi among scientists and help advance our understanding of biology, from the micro- to the macro-scale.
Jolles, J. W. (2021). Broad‐scale applications of the Raspberry Pi: A review and guide for biologists. Methods Ecol. Evol. 12, 1562–1579. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.13652
Update: My paper has been picked up by the Raspberry Pi Blog (link), scidev.net (link), and Niche magazine of the British Ecological Society (link, p12), among others!