In a month when many are eschewing the excesses of December, a talking, tweeting chicken which squawks when you open the cupboard and then broadcasts your dietary misdemeanours to your Twitter followers might appear a cruel invention.Guilt, though, is one of the few drawbacks of the Raspberry Pi – a tiny, cheap computer board which powers the chicken and various other devices, including Scalextric cars, a bird box which tweets photos it takes of birds and interactive toys which react to the weather.
“After seeing what Raspberry Pi could do, we had suggestions including an automated insulin monitor that can dial 999, and another that automatically reorders food when it detects the cupboard is bare,” says Dr Andrew Robinson, of the University of Manchester, suggesting a less miserly use for the innovation.
As part of a series of workshops led by the Museum of Science and Industry’s STEM team, Robinson and his colleagues have been teaching pupils how to use the innovation and the University’s accompanying add-on, Pi-Face.
“One child even came up with a design for a device that politely reminds you to put the toilet seat down after use.
“I was really blown away with what they came up with. It really fired their imagination.”
Partly a response to concerns about falling technical knowledge among children, the workshops also aim to encourage youngsters to consider careers in computing.
They are being encouraged to enter an international competition, the Raspberry Pi Bake Off, seeking gadgets capable of changing the world.
The next workshop will be held on January 17 2013.