No, Raspberry Pi is not strictly an IoT device. It may or may not be an IoT device depending on how you are using it. You can use it either as an IoT device or mini-computer depend on the need of your project. It has both the traits of an IoT device and a mini-computer. It has an operating system (Linux) installed on it and can be used as a general-purpose computer. Like other IoT boards, it has RAM, ROM, and I/O pins which make it usable in IoT devices. It can interface directly with actuators and sensors. In industry, Raspberry Pi has found its importance both as a mini-computer and an IoT device. In this article, we will have a detailed look at what an actual IoT device is and what makes it different from other such devices and how to set raspberry pi as an IoT device.
First of all, we should know what an IoT device actually is
General Working of any Internet of thing application :
To know what the internet of things is, first we have to know the general features of any IoT based system. Any internet of things based application has three parts
- Data Collector or sensors
- Computational Machine or microcontroller
- Networking or internet connectivity
Data collection Via Sensors
As we know the internet of things based system are intelligent and make decisions according to requirements. They make decisions on the basis of data collected from the environment and this process of data collection is carried out using sensors. There are a variety of sensors available in the market for different purposes. We can find a sensor for any purpose in the market depending on our need, whether we want a light sensor or water sensor, heat sensor or pressure sensor, or other kinds of sensors that befits our needs. These sensors are available in a variety of forms i.e, wireless form, complex form for computational efficiency, and so on.
Microcontroller: A computational Machine
After collection of data, what internet of things application does is to use a computational machine to perform computation on data, extract the useful results using algorithms and take a necessary step required to maintain the situation. Microcontrollers are mostly used for computation on the internet of Things apps. There are a variety of microcontrollers available in the market and we select the microcontroller according to our needs for computation.
Internet connectivity: Why called the internet of things
We have named the system internet of things but not use the word internet yet. So let’s dive right into it. After we perform computation on data and extract results, the last but not least step is to interact with the user. That’s where internet connectivity comes in. We connect our system via the internet to the user so that the user can easily communicate with the device through GUI provided to them. For example, if the sensor senses some kind of abnormal heat in IoT based refrigerator, it will compute the situation, shut down the system if needed, and warn the user through the application connected to the internet.
Similarities of Raspberry Pi with IoT devices:
- Like other IoT boards, it has computational intelligence and network connectivity or internet connectivity.
- It is smaller and cheaper than professional Pc.
- Most importantly, it can interface directly with actuators and sensors making it more sophisticated.
Dissimilarities of raspberry Pi with IoT devices:
- It can install the operating system on it (Linux). It can communicate exactly as a Pc interface with operating systems such as (Linux, MS windows, or macOS ).
- In IoT devices, complexities are not visible to users. But, due to OS in raspberry pi, users can analyze complexities in a project.
The main difference between Raspberry Pi and IoT devices is that IoT devices are not general-purpose computers. But these are specific purpose devices designed for a specific task. But raspberry PI can be used as a general-purpose computer just like a Pc or laptop and can run the operating system on it. Therefore, it is sometimes called a mini-computer. However, this mini-computer is not as powerful as PC, but, they become general-purpose devices that differentiate them from being an IoT device.
The second difference is that you cannot analyze the complexity of the IoT device as a user. As a user, you consider it a simple device. For example, When you are driving a car. You just drive the car using the interface given by the company such as staring wheel, brakes, accelerator, you don’t understand the complexity handled by the engine. But, OS installed in it helps the user see the complexity of the project. Just like your pc, you connect Raspberry Pi to screen and can interact with the device just like interacting with your PC. Like other laptops, you can install software and update drivers. In this way, it is considered a substitute for pc.
How Raspberry Pi can be used as an IoT device:
Instead of connecting your raspberry PI to PC and installing software on it, you say I’m gonna connect it with sensors and actuators. Then rather interacting with keyboard and mouse, you let it interact with sensors and perform computation on the basis of data obtained from sensors, then it will completely work as an IoT device.