A developer is working on a modular PocKit computer that works with magnetic modules. The computer has been in development since 2019, but the maker recently showed a demo video of a build running Linux with a Raspberry Pi Compute Module.
Project PocKit is somewhat similar to the modular Project Ara smartphone that Google showcased years ago and later scrapped, Liliputing also notes. The modular PocKit computer is housed in a housing made with a 3D printer. This shell houses the printed circuit board and the neodymium magnets used to secure the hardware modules.
By default, the computer uses a ‘Core’ with STM32 and ESP32 processors. However, the PocKit can also be expanded with a Raspberry Pi Compute Module for more computing power. Although the PocKit also works without a Compute Module, the mini PC also offers support for Linux thanks to the Raspberry Pi module, according to a video from the maker. The developer does not state which Compute Module is involved, but the demo video mentions a BCM2837B0 soc, which is used in the 2019 Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+.
The developer also shows various modules, which the maker calls ‘blocks’. These blocks can be ‘clicked’ to the PocKit via magnets. The PocKit website states that there will be more than 24 such modules available. Furthermore, the computer would support WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy, making the system suitable for IoT applications.
The creator shows different blocks, for example in a kind of Linux desktop mode. In it, the PocKit is equipped with a camera, an HDMI extension, microSD card reader, an RJ45 Ethernet connector, 3.5mm jack and a module with USB connections. The mini-pc can also be equipped with its own screen, with which the computer can be used as a handheld. To do this, the developer uses a joystick or trackpad that functions as a mouse and a small, Blackberry-esque keyboard. This build could also be equipped with a GPS module, temperature sensor or a LoRa kit.
Images via Project PocKit
In addition to the ability to run Linux with a Compute Module, the PocKit developer has previously shown other use cases. For example, the portable computer can be used as a smart plant sensor that measures the moisture of potting soil. This information can then be displayed on another PocKit with one or more small screens. Users can set certain hardware to automatically water the plants when the potting soil is too dry. The maker also shows a build in which the computer functions as an automatic hand soap pump.
The developer says on Reddit that Project PocKit is not yet completely finished. So it is not yet known when the mini PC will go on sale or what the suggested retail price will be. The developer does release updates about the status of the project on its website. In addition, the creator reports on Reddit that he will make some aspects of the project open-source so that people can create their own block modules.