Bigshot has been launched as a DIY camera in the US, which aims to help children learn about technical hardware.
With a similar philosophy to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Bigshot has been created as a hands-on way to teach children about technology.
Developed by US computer science professor Shree Nayar, Bigshot can only function when the components are assembled in a specific sequence, with an accompanying online guide explaining the science behind each piece.
“It’s about getting kids’ hands dirty,” said Nayar. “In an age when software rules I want kids to know how to build hardware.”
“We describe concepts that children would normally encounter at college, but try to make them accessible even to an 8 or 10 year old. That’s where a lot of our effort has gone in – to try and make things like image processing, electronics and display technology understandable at some level to younger kids.”
The Bigshot camera contains three different lenses on a rotatable wheel for panoramic, 3D and regular shots, and also has a hand crank to take images when the battery is flat.
Nayar has licensed the design to EduScience, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer that pays him royalties from every sale. With the money he earns, Nayar plans to take Bigshot units to underprivileged children worldwide.
“We’re selling it at $89 (£58), and it’s been a real challenge bringing it down to that cost,” added Nayar. “Unline a camera that you can snap together and you don’t have to worry about the parts inside, in this case each component that the kid is handling has to be safe and be something that reveals a concept.”
Although sales are initially only in the US, EduScience plans to bring Bigshot to other countries. Several thousand units will be used to test demand for the device.
“I see it as an experience which includes learning-by-building, then using for photography and finally sharing your pictures with kids from other communities – it’s that entire experience.”
Similar to the business model used by Raspberry Pi, the Foundation still sees Bigshot as a welcome addition to the learning process for youngsters.
“Kids’ enthusiasm for hardware projects has been a real surprise to me since we launched the Pi,” said Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder Eben Upton. “I’m a software engineer by background, so I thought most people would write graphics demos when in fact they’ve been doing a lot more electronics, even at a very young age.”
Next, read our pick of 10 of the best Raspberry Pi projects.