Sony decided to make a change by beginning to use the Raspberry Pi systems for its day to day use. While it seems like the rest of the computer is missing once opening the box, the $35 computers contain just enough hardware to power games and access the Web. Six years ago, Hobbyists and science teachers were its first customers, however, now it seems to have a new fan base which includes manufacturers and businesses.
Forbes reports that the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s trading division is witnessing more demand for its cheap device by commercial users. Hotel chains, garbage collectors and factories make up nearly 50% of its customers. In some instances, the Pi is even undercutting the industrial monitoring equipment sold by bigger companies.
A network of refueling stations used to power hydrogen vehicles in Europe are using the Pi to monitor their temperature and filling levels to further assist managers to predict maintenance. Meanwhile, at another business, the device is used to listen to audio from elevators to detect any anomalies and further suggest a fix if needed.
“It’s made us more competitive,” says Kevin Edwards, head engineer at Sony’s main manufacturing facility in Pencoed, Wales. The factory
Edwards mounted the Pi’s onto machinery and walls. Each gadget is equipped with extra sensors to monitor things such as temperature, vibration, proximity and energy usage.
As it monitors a piece of automated equipment, it then sends information to a database using “a secure protocol that Edwards’ team developed,” as Forbes reports. Some of the Pi’s used have cameras that record the machines which gets processed by vision-recognition software to point out any irregularities.
“It allows us to avoid having to have a person painstakingly watch over a machine,” Edwards says. “This is how we stop people walking around with clipboards.”