A few months ago, we introduced the SheevaPlug, a 1.2GHz ARM processor with 512Mb of RAM, 2 usb ports, an ethernet port, and an SD card slot. in that article, we asked: “What would you make with one?”. We received tons of responses, 118 comments and counting. scientific American had a similar idea and asked some “hackers”(MIT students) what they would make with it (thanks, grisspy). We thought maybe we would weigh in with our opinions. join us after the break and in the comments.

#1. home Automation
Summary: “I would hook it up to a web cam and track myself in the house,” says Nikolaus Correll, an M.I.T. CSAIL postdoctoral associate.

Eliot: [Nikolaus] has an interesting idea about leveraging the extra processing power to do object recognition and then having the home react accordingly. The phrase “home automation” points out one of the SheevaPlug’s shortcomings; despite plugging directly into the wall, it doesn’t do powerline communication.

Caleb: note how he avoids mentioning x10. It’s a great idea, especially once he gets to the “statistical profile” bit.

#2. Desktop Replacement
Summary: It’s small and fairly powerful. It could replace your desktop.

Eliot: No dedicated video hardware indicates you’ll have trouble replacing even your Apple TV with this. no one is scrambling to build an ARM desktop.

Caleb: What advantage does this have over a netbook? By the time you add a display and input aren’t you close to the netbook bottom of the line, minus the easy portability?

#3. data center Replacement:
Summary: “If these things can compare with [server farms’]…computational throughput at a fraction of the power consumption, that’s intoxicating.”

Eliot: This sounds like a horrible cluster. having a dedicated AC-DC converter for each processor is NOT efficient.

Caleb: For small applications, this makes sense. like doing a cluster in your home, or possibly office. It seems like their performance would be lacking in larger applications. any individual care to weigh in here?

#4. data Availability
Summary: connect a hard drive to it, access the data from anywhere.

Eliot: This is absolutely a good use. There are very few applications that get the software ideal and we’d love to see improvements. The USB host port could make initial setup much easier.

Caleb: I like this. If it really is plug and play, it is a terrific solution. I’m guessing you could even have software with it that would let normal people set this up without modifying their router settings?

#5. data Mining
Summary: connect stuff to the Internet to gather statistics.

Eliot: This is a user friendly way to add network capability to appliances. It costs a lot more than an Arduino, but it must be much much easier to get started collecting, storing, and hosting data. It has a serial interface for connecting whatever you want.

Caleb: He is talking about making each day objects share data right? The title lead me to believe he was going to have these things crawling the web collecting data. This seems like overkill. If you can rig a maker not indicated to send that data,with sensors and custom-made code, you can probably program a development board like Arduino to relay that data for more affordable than the SheevaPlug. Am I way off base here? assume they have a unit to collect data at the home office, that cost 5 times as much, but they save money on each more affordable unit in the machine(in the field) that calls home. That would be a a lot more cost efficient way to do it wouldn’t it? maybe my take only applies if you are doing a lot of appliances, like beverage machines.

#6. Life Filter
Summary: use it to filter your email.

Eliot: Innocuous looking hardware for running interesting daemon processes on a network certainly sounds like a fun project.

Caleb: Yeah, I guess that could work. I don’t understand the necessity with all the filtering available for email as it is. maybe he’s referring to some illusive future data that we need filtered. I’ll just stick with here and now. email filter? Într-adevăr?

#7. Supraveghere
Summary: connect webcams for low-cost surveillance.

Eliot: This has been fixed and lots of of them even feature external inputs already.

Caleb: IP cameras are pretty cheap, they can be found for far under $100. Is this a option to a problem that doesn’t exist? maybe this could add some feature like facial recognition or something.

#8. You name It
Summary: SheevaPlug is versatile, it would make a good low-cost server.

Eliot: The lack of x10, powerline networking, and WiFi makes this platform undeserving os the hype. It could be a replacement for all the router hacking we’ve covered… but it costs more.

Caleb: web server and source code repository were pointed out frequently in the comments on our article. It seems that this thing may not be perfectly suited for anything, but it’s small and low-cost enough to be used for a lot.


We saw lots of of the ideas above provided in our commeNTS, precum și controlul climatizării, espianage corporativă, servirea proxy-ului, mass-media care servește cu un NAS, IRC, firewall, cutie torrentă, clustering, ssh, instalații de artă și multe altele. Acești oameni au venit cu câteva utilizări bune, dar nimic nu se compară cu comentatorii noștri.

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