7 Practical Business Applications for the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi has long held the attention of the techies and hackers since its launch back in 2012. A credit card sized computer running Linux for US$35: why wouldn’t it?

There’s a plethora of projects and applications out there for the Pi but for the most part, these are typically focused on the consumer market: from home entertainment media servers to retro gaming consoles, smart mirrors to weather stations, ad-blockers to home automation.

So, the Pi is a great toy for big kids to tinker with in our spare time. But are there any business applications for the Pi? Absolutely…  here are 7 business applications for the Raspberry Pi.

  1. Digital signage

One of the most popular commercial uses for the Pi these days is to display images, video or streaming media on TVs in communal areas like reception, office lunch rooms, coffee shops etc.

There’s a whole raft of digital signage projects out there to help you present content. And with the Pi able to display content in 1080p resolution, it’s a great and cost effective way to do it.

  1. Network Attached Storage

Obviously, a low-cost device like a Pi was never designed to support a high volume of users or high I/O applications (like CAD files), but it is still well placed to meet the needs of most small offices requiring a centralised file repository. Projects such as OpenMediaVault which make it quick to deploy and easy to administer.

There are power limitations with the Pi (it can only power 1 portable drive at a time) but that is easily overcome by using self-powered drives or a USB hub. But with 4 USB ports there’s plenty of capacity for additional drives, and if you are looking for resiliency, you can setup RAID or sync the contents of one drive to another. You can even back up to cloud storage like AWS Glacier.

  1. Surveillance

Commercial surveillance cameras can be very expensive which usually makes investing in one cost prohibitive for many businesses. But combining a Raspberry Pi, a camera module and a fake surveillance camera to use for a housing, this project makes for an affordable alternative.

If you are up for a bit more of a challenge, the folks over at PyImageSearch have a how-to setup with multiple cameras.

  1. Thin client

The Raspberry Pi Thin Client Project team have put together a Pi image with everything you need to run Microsoft RDC, Citrix ICA, VMWare View, OnenNX and SPICE connections. Setup is a breeze too!

Sure, there are some features missing from the Pi that you would get from conventional thin clients like webcams, dual monitors etc but for a typical thin client deployment, the Pi works a treat.

If you don’t want the Pi to go missing, you can always use a $4 Vesa mount to attach the Pi to the back of your monitor.

  1. Business intelligence dashboard

Want to display real-time streaming data via a dashboard? Simple! This step-by-step tutorial shows you how you can use a Raspberry Pi to collect data from various sensors, send the data back to PowerBI, then display via a dashboard.

Or just use your Pi to connect to a remote VM like an Azure virtual machine so you can show off your BI dashboards like GCITS did here.

  1. VoIP

The Asterisk Raspberry Pi VoIP PBX is a great solution for SOHO or small branch office. It comes prepopulated with a large collection of common SIP trunk providers and again, easy to setup and maintain.

  1. Network penetration testing

The only way to be sure of the security of your network and information is to put your systems and processes through their paces. Offensive security is all about finding weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your environment so you can close them down before someone else can exploit them.

Enter the portable hacking station – a Raspberry Pi running Kali Linux. This gives you the ability to probe your (or your client’s) network for vulnerabilities. Just remember you need the network owner’s permission before you go probing their network.

If you’re looking for consultancy services for your next project contact Starboard IT to find out what we can do for you.