Described by its creators as tiny and easy-to-use, C.H.I.P. is a straight-up computer that does "computer things" such as word processing, web surfing and video games. But at only $9, it's unbelievably inexpensive.
But it's versatile enough to be used for projects, too, from DIY wearable technology to the classroom.
The open-source gadget has a 1GHz CPU, 512Mb RAM, and 4GB of storage built in. WiFi and Bluetooth are for connectivity and peripherals.
C.H.I.P. is built to be flexible. Whether you're building yourself a wall clock that counts down time to the next bus at your stop, or setting up a network of hundreds of solar-powered air quality sensors for use in disaster relief, you need the same basic tools to start from: a processor, a way to exchange data, and a way to power everything. With C.H.I.P., all the groundwork is laid, and the only question is what you'll do next.
The "downside" is that it's a bare-bones circuit board. But even then, no DIY skills are required to get up an running: just plug in the power supply and monitor and you have a 2-inch desktop computer booting into a tailored Linux operating system.
There's even a case, the Pocket Chip, which includes a keyboard, tracking nub, 4.3" touchscreen LCD display and battery, to turn it into a portable. And it only adds another $40 to the price.
They've already surged past their Kickstarter goal, so expect to see a lot of these in the wild.