We first wrote about the Pockit modular Linux computer with hot-pluggable magnetic blocks about a year ago. The system was based on an STM32 + ESP32 motherboard with a socket for an optional Raspberry Pi 3 compute module and included magnets and electrical contacts to snap and hot-plug the modules/blocks while the computer was running.
The developer (Anil Reddy) has moved the project along nicely and added the ability to use a Raspberry Pi CM4 with Pockit (provided one is found) to improve performance, e.g. for computer vision. Other changes include support for AI accelerators, an improved dashboard, home automation integration, and more.
Pockit now supports over 80 BLOCKS of features ranging from a rotary encoder, microSD card reader, various camera types, HDMI block, AI accelerators, and more. All of these can be magnetically snapped while the computer is running and automatically detected in the dashboard. Exceptions are some larger blocks, such as HDMI displays, which are attached to the side of the motherboard. This makes the solution ideal for rapid prototyping.
The new Pockit block based on Raspberry Pi CM4 has two main advantages with a more powerful module than the RPi CM3 block, and the mechanical design has changed with a screwless design that is easier to install and remove. The Raspberry Pi block runs the dashboard shown below.
This is where it gets really impressive as the dashboard will automatically detect new blocks and reconfigure itself on the fly. Add a camera module, the video appears automatically, add an additional Ethernet module, now you have the possibility to broadcast the output of the camera. When using the object demo, you can switch from CPU processors to an AI (Coral Edge TPU) accelerometer in seconds, and Anil is also working on more compact Kendryte K210 and Coral Edge TPU blocks. Blocks based on Nordic Semi nRF52840 or Texas Instruments CC2531 allow home automation through solutions such as Home Assistant or ESPHome. Best is to watch his latest video presentation below, and I’m sure your mind will be blown.
If it’s a one person project, it’s really impressive with the mechanical and hardware design, as well as several development environments (Linux, ESP32, STM32, nRF52 SDK, etc.) to work with . Anil answered some of the questions on Reddit under the username Solder_Man.
There is an official website for the Pockit project, but it’s in the form of a blog and isn’t very easy to navigate. For example, there are no “product pages” where you can search for information on the various modules etc. Anil plans to make several samples for beta testers. If you want to buy a first sample or follow the project, you can register on the website.
Via Tom’s Hardware
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 on a part-time basis, before stepping down as Director of Software Engineering and starting writing daily news and reviews full-time later in 2011.