Connect with us


Raspberry Pi Foundation announces the cute little Raspberry Pi 400



This is the Atari 400 Raspberry Pi 400. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is launching a new product today — and it’s a brand new device. As you can see on the photo, the Raspberry Pi 400 is a computer integrated in a compact keyboard that costs $70.

And it is the easiest way to get started with a Raspberry Pi. If you’re not familiar with the Raspberry Pi, it’s a single-board computer with a lot of connectors that is the size of a deck of cards.

You can give it to a kid so that they can play around with a terminal, you can use it for your weekend projects as the computing brain or you can give it to your grandparents to replace their slow Windows XP computer that they use to receive emails.

Last year, when the Raspberry Pi Foundation introduced the Raspberry Pi 4, the foundation also used this opportunity to release a cute mouse and a keyboard. Of course, you could use these accessories with a Raspberry Pi. And your basic setup would look something like this:

Image Credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch

Those are great goodies for Raspberry Pi fans. And yet, there are many, many keyboard and mouse manufacturers out there. Building their own mouse and keyboard didn’t really make sense.

It turns out that the Raspberry Pi Foundation had another idea in mind. The Raspberry Pi 400 is essentially the exact same keyboard — but with an integrated Raspberry Pi. Their next project has been sitting there right in front of us for the past year.

Raspberry Pi 400 (top) and Raspberry Pi keyboard (bottom). Image Credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has already sent me a Raspberry Pi 400 to try it out. While many of my colleagues are excited about the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, I was also really excited about receiving this new device.

Because, yes, the Raspberry Pi 400 (or, as TechCrunch’s Brian Heater called it, the PiStation) looks really cute. You plug a couple of cables and you’re ready to go. As far as I can see, it’s a fanless device so it doesn’t make any sound when it’s on.

Image Credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch

Putting a computer inside a keyboard is nothing new. You could even say that personal computers started this way. Back in the 1980s, you could plug your computer-in-a-keyboard to your TV and get started right away.

At some point, computers became more complicated. You had to buy a computer tower, a display, a mouse, a keyboard, etc. Laptops reversed this trend by packing everything you need in one device. But laptops aren’t perfect either.

The Raspberry Pi 400 is a great device for kids. In many ways, it’s much more powerful than a Chromebook. You can learn a lot more about computers and you feel less restricted in what you can do.

I could see it in schools, at home in the play room or on a shelf waiting to be plugged to a display. This is a great way to get started playing around with computers.

Image Credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch

It gets more interesting when you think about older kids. Many people have said that closed schools have been particularly challenging this year, especially because you don’t necessarily have enough computers for everyone in your home.

If your kid is old enough to get a smartphone, that doesn’t mean they have a comfortable setup for remote classes. The Raspberry Pi 400 is a cheap device that could fill that gap. Moreover, the Raspberry Pi 400 could be a good way to separate school from leisure activities (and social networks).

Now let’s talk about specifications. The Raspberry Pi 400 is pretty similar to a Raspberry Pi 4, but not exactly. It has an ARM-based system on a chip (64-bit quad-core ARM Core-A72 at 1.8GHz for those who are curious). It comes with 4GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, Bluetooth Low Energy and Gigabit Ethernet.

When it comes to ports, you get two micro-HDMI ports, which means that you can plug two 4K displays in case you really need a lot of screen real estate. There are two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port and a USB-C port for the power brick.

Like other Raspberry Pi devices, it uses microSD cards for the operating system and to store your data. You can use Raspberry Pi Desktop, a Debian-based Linux operating system, or a third-party operating system, such as Ubuntu.

There are different models with UK, US, French, Italian, German and Spanish keyboard layouts. In addition to the $70 device, you can buy the Raspberry Pi 400 kit with a mouse, a power supply, a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable, a pre-formatted microSD card and the official beginner’s guide for $100. It should be available in the coming days.

Image Credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch

Continue Reading


Shop-Ware raises cash as cars make a comeback



Shop-Ware has been waiting for a year like 2020 since 2015.

The startup, which sells software to neighborhood automotive shops to digitize their operations, had struggled to capture capital from venture firms. Until recently, its sole major investor was aftermarket automotive giant Bosch.

For companies like Shop-Ware, the disruptive wake of COVID-19 has cleared a path to capital as mainstream investors have sought out startups with services and products needed in the pandemic era. Investors finally get Shop-Ware founder Carolyn Coquillette’s vision and business. Their endorsement: $15 million in funding through a Series A round led by Insight Partners.

“It’s a different level of validation in terms of this industry going through a transition and catching the eye of traditional investors,” Coquillette said.

Coquillette says Shop-Ware will use he funds to fuel growth across its operations, sales and marketing teams.

The fresh capital comes as Shop-Ware has tripled its customer base while also lowering churn, Coquillette said, although she would not disclose total revenue numbers or whether the company is profitable.

The idea of Shop-Ware began when Coquillette started her own San Francisco-based auto shop, Luscious Garage, in 2007. The goal from the get-go was to offer customers a peek into what happens in an auto shop. It meant more communications from the repair-person to the car-owner, and a software platform was the best way to do it. Eventually, the push for modernized software became less of an in-house project and more of a standalone company. By 2015, she had a product and an incorporated company.

Shop-Ware helps auto-repair shops streamline operations both inside and out of the shop. Auto-repair shops are able to use Shop-Ware to track employee hours, inventory ordering and management and integrate with third-party tools such as Quickbooks. Shop-Ware also helps the neighborhood auto-repair worker communicate and charge customers through text or a web-based interface.

The intricacies of car ownership are something that Coquillette thinks that the average consumer doesn’t understand, so she built an entire business around adding more transparency to the clunky process.

“There is no way that a normal person is going to appreciate what it takes to fix their car,” Coquillette said. “The car is built to distract you and hide its complication for you by design so that you agree to buy it.” In other words, she says, you’re buying a “magic carpet.”

It’s an easy pitch for the most part, the founder says.

“Everybody who owns the car has gone to a repair shop and had an unsavory experience,” she said. “It’s pretty obvious to be like ‘oh yeah, you can make that experience less unsavory.’”

The real roadblock for the startup is convincing a business to adopt technology to change a process that isn’t technically broken. COVID-19 has been the impetus for auto shops — some of which have been steadfast in their pen-and-paper approach —to turn to a digital platform to communicate and operate.

The sector of digitizing auto-repair processes has grown considerably since Shop-Ware first launched five years ago.

Concierge startups such as CarDash and Wrench have popped up over the past several years to give customers an easier way to request maintenance checks. The services consolidate auto repair shops under one, approachable umbrella, which Coquillette thinks is the wrong approach.

“I’m a real big believer that you need to enable those independent providers,” she said. “You have to basically let those special snowflakes be their own snowflakes.”

A closer competitor to Shop-Ware is Shopmonkey, which raised a $25 million Bessemer-led Series B in August. It is welcome competition, Coquillette remarks, because it has put an investment spotlight on the category.

“There’s been a wakeup call around autonomy and how we related to our cars,” she said.

Now it’s up to Shop-Ware to take that wakeup call and turn it into cash.



Continue Reading


Looking Glass’s next product is a holographic digital photo frame



Looking Glass’s technology is extremely cool, but has, thus far, been prohibitively expensive, ranging from $600 for its 8.9-inch product to $6,000 for the 15-inch model — and an undisclosed sum for its 32-inch 8K display. Portrait might not be the most technically ambitious or versatile product the Brooklyn-based startup has produced, but it’s easily the most accessible.

At $349, it’s still not cheap (though it’s $199 if you get in early via Kickstarter), but it has to be one of the most affordable holographic displays on the market. Along with the pricing, the company is taking a more populist approach to functionality, as well, offering up what is essentially a very advanced digital photo frame. The system offers up to 100 different perspectives on a 3D image, which, unlike products like Sony’s new 3D display, can be viewed by multiple people at once.

Image Credits: Looking Glass

The system can also be run without being tethered to a computer. Its standalone mode relies on a built-in computer to deliver a 60 FPS holographic image. Those photos, meanwhile, can be captured with an iPhone and edited into a 3D image using the included HoloPlay Studio software. Holographic videos can also be captured with Azure Kinect and Intel RealSense cameras.

“It’s the first step toward holographic video calls,” the company notes, perhaps tipping its hand a bit about future plans.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of the moment that I’d be able to have a holographic display of my own,” CEO Shawn Frayne says in the release. “I imagined what it would be like to send someone a holographic birthday message, or to say hello as a hologram to my great-great-great granddaughter. Looking Glass Portrait, the culmination of six years of work by our Brooklyn and Hong Kong based team, makes those dreams real for more people than ever before.”

The Portrait goes up on Kickstarter today, and will be available to early backers for $199.

Continue Reading


Jio Platforms backs SF-based AR gaming startup Krikey



Jio Platforms, the biggest telecom operator in India and which has raised over $20 billion from Facebook, Google and other high-profile investors this year, is leading a financing round of a San Francisco-based startup that develops augmented-reality mobile games.

Jio has led the Series A fundraise of Krikey, founded by sisters Jhanvi and Ketaki Shriram, the Indian firm said on Wednesday. They did not disclose the size of Krikey’s Series A round, but Jio said Krikey has raised $22 million to date.

Krikey has previously not disclosed any financing rounds, according to their listings on Crunchbase, CBInsights, and Tracxn.

As part of the announcement, Krikey has launched YAATRA, a new AR game that invites users to step in an action-adventure story to defeat a monster army. “Using weapons such as the bow and arrow, chakra, lightning and fire bolts, players can battle through different levels of combat and puzzle games,” Krikey said.

Jio subscribers in India will get exclusive access to a range of features in Krikey, available on Android and iOS, including a 3D avatar, and entry to some game levels and weapons.

“Our vision with Krikey is to bring together inspiration and reality in an immersive way. With augmented reality, we are able to bring fantasy worlds into your home, straight through the window of your mobile phone,” said Jhanvi and Ketaki Shriram in a joint statement.

In a statement, Akash Ambani, Director of Jio, said, “Krikey will inspire a generation of Indians to embrace Augmented Reality. Our vision is to bring the best experiences from across the world to India and the introduction of Yaatra is a step in that direction. Augmented Reality gaming takes the user into a world of its own, and we invite every Jio and non-Jio user to experience AR through Yaatra.”

Jio has previously acquired music streaming service Saavn (which has since been rebranded to JioSaavn), and Haptik, a startup that develops conversational platforms and virtual assistants.

We have reached out to Jio and Krikey for more details.

Continue Reading