embedded

Do you own or intend to own a Raspberry Pi?

Yes
56% (95 votes)
Still waiting for mine
10% (17 votes)
Haven't ordered one yet but will do
21% (36 votes)
No, it does not interest me
7% (12 votes)
No (other)
6% (11 votes)
Total votes: 171

First impressions of the Raspberry Pi

Image from the boot screen on Raspberry Pi

Yesterday I finally received my Raspberry Pi (model B), a small computer designed for educational use that retails at about the £25 mark. I had had mine on order since March and had been reading a lot about it in that time so was looking forward to getting it. The first thing that strikes you about this device is its size, or rather lack of it. The Pi arrived in a box and a padded envelope and yet still fitted through my letter box! So that was the first computer delivery I've had where I didn't need to wait in or find some delivery office to pick it up from. The second thing that struck me is just how raw this machine is. No case, screen, input device or operating system supplied. You need to find these items for yourself. The device is also designed to be plugged into a TV, which might momentarily give it an 80s retro feel. In a time when manufacturers spend so long on polishing products and interfaces and where devices such as mobiles and tablets are starting to bring computing more into a consumer appliance mode of thinking this is quite a shock. This could prove to be a double edged sword.

An experimental CouchDB powered Samsung Internet@TV app

People on a sofa talking in front of a bank of TV screens

I've been experimenting a bit with CouchDB again recently and started thinking more about what it means to see non-relational databases as different from rather than better than traditional relational databases. One idea that I wanted to explore is that these differences mean that we do not have to use these new technologies in the same way as a traditional database layer. A notable feature of CouchDB is that it delivers data over an HTTP connection, so it can deliver data to the web without the need to write a layer of software to go in front of it. It can also store files quite happily. This could hugely simplify the server side of many phone, tablet and Internet TV apps so I thought I would have a go at building an experimental proof-of-concept app for the Samsung Internet@TV platform that gets both its metadata and video files from a CouchDB server.

Using Linked Data in an experimental TV app to personalise content on offer

Illustration of keypad text entryA little while ago I started reading up on Notube, an EU funded project that aims to explore how technology such as Linked Data can be used with televisions to (amongst other aims) produce personalised content. Inspired by this idea I started thinking about a small example that would build upon my earlier blog post How to use Linked Data on the Samsung Internet@TV platform to produce a personalised view of Open University Podcasts. In order for the example to be useful it would need to use data for the personalisation that was easy for the user to supply using just a remote control. I've got as far as producing a simple prototype that hopefully shows some of the potential of this technology.

How to use Linked Data on the Samsung Internet@TV platform

Top of an emulated remote controlA real advantage of Internet powered TV is the opportunity for personalisation and customisation to make it a more compelling and meaningful experience for the viewer, but to support this it helps to have a flexible solution to query the data about what is on offer. Linked Data could be that flexible solution as it makes it possible to send a quite complex query, possibly generated on the fly to a data store. With this in mind I have been experimenting with consuming linked data on a cheap and cheerful blu-ray player that supports the Samsung Internet@TV platform. Using a web developer skill set it is possible to build a web application that runs on the device that has the ability to pass a query directly to a SPARQL endpoint and parse the results.

A "Hello World" app for Samsung Internet@TV

Samsung Internet@TV is a platform that aims to bring content from the Internet into people's living rooms through certain Samsung televisions and Blu-ray players (be careful to check app availability though). The system uses HTML “widgets” to bring an app like experience to the TV set. For developers this is a chance to experience developing for an embedded system while needing only HTML, CSS and Javascript skills. As another bonus Samsung are currently running a competition for developers in Europe (at the time of writing there is about one month left until closing) where you can win some decent prizes. In this post I will attempt to pull together some information on how to build a simple “Hello World” app and then deploy it to a real Internet@TV device for testing.

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