Before Raspberry Pi rocked the world of makers, boards from BeagleBoard.org were the computers of choice among developers who were looking to create cool gadgets.
One of its boards, BeagleBone, isn't as popular as it used to be, but it still has a loyal following. Seeed Studios has taken a version of the open-source board and given it a much-needed wireless upgrade, adding Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.
The BeagleBone Green Wireless is a significant improvement over predecessors:wireless capabilities to smart home devices, wearables, health monitors and other gadgets. The upgrade also brings BeagleBone into the Internet of Things era, in which wirelessly interconnected devices are constantly exchanging data.
The $44.90 BeagleBone Green Wireless is available on the Digi-Key website.
For $99, you can buy an IOT development kit version with connectors and cables -- gear that's needed for device development. The point is that with the kit, you don't have to go out and buy individual parts.
It was possible to add wireless to the older BeagleBone Black with a wireless dongle, as explained in this Adafruit tutorial. But Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.1 wireless modules fit directly onto this new board, saving space.
The BeagleBone Green Wireless looks like a smaller version of Raspberry Pi, with all the components mashed onto a tiny circuit board. But it is not a PC replacement, like Raspberry Pi; it's more in the league of Samsung's Artik 5 or the Raspberry Pi Zero, meant for the development of small gadgets.
The board was jointly developed by BeagleBoard.org and Seeed Studios, a Chinese company that is emerging as a big player in the developer board arena. Seeed Studios is also working with Microsoft to develop a Raspberry Pi 3 developer kit with the Windows 10 OS.
Powering the BeagleBone Green Wireless is a ARM Cortex-A8 processor with a 1.0GHz frequency. It has 4GB of storage, 512MB DDR3 RAM, 3D graphics, USB ports, and connectors to attach cameras, sensors and other components. It does not have Ethernet, which was on the original BeagleBone Green board.