This $59 A.I. Kit Could Change How You Think About Smart Devices Forever
Make your own smart home that doesn’t send everything to the cloud
Artificial intelligence has been heralded as the next wave of computing for years, but learning or even tinkering with it has required access to expensive hardware with powerful GPUs capable of crunching massive data sets.
That’s starting to change with the debut of cheap all-in-one A.I. computers from companies like Nvidia, which introduced its latest Jetson Nano A.I. developer kit this week — for just $59. The Jetson is a full computer in a tiny package, similar to a Raspberry Pi, that allows hacking on projects or learning from home, while making A.I. accessible to a much broader audience.
The debut of the Raspberry Pi in 2012 was a watershed moment for computing because it made computers accessible in a tiny, all-in-one package, for just $35. It meant that hobbyists like me could buy a full computer and hack around with ideas, like building a magic mirror or DIY smart screen. Before the Raspberry Pi, there were few ways to tinker on these kinds of ideas without investing hundreds of dollars in specialized hardware or cannibalizing an old laptop for the job.
Today’s Webcams Are Boring, So I Brought Back a Classic
That time I put a Raspberry Pi inside an Apple iSight and nobody stopped me
Cheap, integrated computers like the Jetson and Google’s “Coral” development board are poised to do the same for A.I. Oversimplifying it, A.I. (which is often referred to as machine learning) is basically processing vast quantities of data to “teach” a computer to find a pattern in that data. Doing so relies on GPUs, which are adept at processing large sets of data quickly and creating inferences.
The problem, until recently, has been that the GPUs required to perform machine learning tasks are expensive, large, and require building an entire computer. That meant that those interested in the field generally had a choice: build a powerful desktop computer, or pay Google, Amazon, or Microsoft for their cloud platforms to do it for you.