Nearly five years ago, Iain Sinclair Designs launched a credit card-sized compact camera concept called the Poco Pro. Though it generated quite a bit of interest, component supply difficulties meant that the project quickly ran aground. Now Iain's son, Grant, has updated the design and launched an Indiegogo to bring the new Poco to production. Built around a Raspberry Pi compute module, the pocket-sized "supercomputer" can be a bike-mounted actioncam, hi-res music player, handheld gaming console and portable web browser.
The desire to build things runs through Grant Sinclair's veins. As the name might suggest, he's the nephew of Sir Clive Sinclair, inventor of a popular range of home computers and the iconic, but somewhat less successful, C5 electric three-wheeler. The latest Sinclair invention is a multi-function mobile computer, one that ticks a good number of usage possibility boxes right out of the box, but also plugs into the creative Pi mindset for some yet-to-be-discovered functionality.
At the heart of the 85.6 x 54 x 9 mm (3.37 x 2.1 x 0.35 in), 60 g (2 oz) Poco beats a Raspberry Pi chipset, with a Broadcom BCM2836 processor supported by 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of eMMC Flash storage (with microSD expansion). Out front is a 2.8 inch (240 x 320 px) IPS touchscreen panel flanked by two analog 4-way joysticks, each with a center push switch, and two shoulder buttons that can be used to control games downloaded from the online Pi community. A dual 5 MP autofocus CMOS camera module caters for front and back stills and 1080p video recording, with the included 0.25-in actioncam mount accepting standard bike, helmet or tripod mounts.
The open source Pi architecture also makes the device attractive to tinkerers and hackers, and the Poco will come with an instruction manual that includes suggestions for non-standard, DIY projects like a dashcam, fitness tracker or satellite navigation system.
For audioholics, there's a Cirrus WM5102ECS/R low power audio processing chip capable of playing back hi-res digital files up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution. Instead of a 3.5 mm headphone jack, mobile music lovers are invited to plug in some micro-USB earphones via one of the device's three included ports, though jack-packing headphones can still be used with a micro-USB adapter (not included) if desired.
Also crammed into the tough metal alloy body is a 520 mAh Li-ion battery, GPS, digital barometer, gyro, accelerometer, magnetometer and integrated Wi-Fi antenna. Two MEMS microphones allow for audio recording or VOIP telephony when connected. And there's a built-in dynamic speaker, Cree LED flashlight and micro-HDMI port for onward connection to a big screen.
Sinclair has launched a US$300,000 flexible funding campaign on Indiegogo (which means that the project receives all of the money pledged, even if the target is not reached) to make the jump to manufacture. Pledges for an assembled Poco start at $380, which also includes a macro lens attachment. Should all go to plan, shipping is estimated to start in July 2016. The pitch video below details what's on offer.