First Look: The Raspberry Pi AI Kit is a budget add-on for code dabblers.

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The Raspberry Pi AI Kit is arguably one of the most sophisticated consumer-grade AI products ever released. That's not because it's the fastest AI accelerator — far, far from it — but because it targets two major problems facing the world of artificial intelligence technology.

Unlike most AI hardware, it's affordable ($70, not counting the Raspberry Pi 5 you'll need to install it on), which makes it more accessible than most gear out there. And since it's for the Raspberry Pi, a device that helps people learn to program, Kit is a great platform for developing coders for AI. Given its specialized nature, we didn't have a comparable or competing product to review it against, but we can definitely say that the Raspberry Pi AI Kit has a lot of promise.

Unboxing the Raspberry Pi AI Kit

The $70 kit includes the Raspberry Pi M.2 HAT+ (an auxiliary board that you connect to your Pi 5), a Hailo AI accelerator with the Hailo-8L AI chip, and the necessary mounting hardware to connect the HAT+ to your Raspberry Pi. Hardware included. 5 (which you have to buy separately for $80). You can buy the components separately, but you'll almost certainly pay more than $70 for the Hailo-8L AI accelerator alone.

(Credit: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

With 13 peaks of AI processing power, the Hailo-8L ranks well against other first-generation AI accelerators such as AMD's Ryzen 7040 series mobile processors and Intel's “Meteor Lake” laptop chips (rated 10 and 11). Standing in a way. tops respectively). Announced next-generation components like AMD's upcoming Ryzen AI 300 and Intel's Core Ultra “Lunar Lake” mobile chips will have a bit more, but 13 TOPS is enough for now.

(Credit: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

Putting the components together is simple and straightforward. All you need to do is attach the GPIO header, place the HAT+ on the Raspberry Pi 5, and then screw in the mounting hardware (which has four standoffs with screws) in the corners.

(Credit: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

This device does not use the GPIO pins for any purpose. The header is only there to make it easier to connect other devices to the GPIO with the HAT+ installed. Instead, the HAT+ connects using the Raspberry Pi 5's single PCI Express 2.0 lane.

The M.2-based AI accelerator comes pre-installed on the HAT+, so all that's left to do is connect the ribbon cable. This, too, comes pre-installed on the HAT+, but I found it easier to disconnect it there and connect it to the Raspberry Pi 5 first. The way the cable fits into the connectors on the two devices makes this a bit easier.

(Credit: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

Technically, this is for hardware setup. From there, you can install the software and start using the device, which we'll talk more about in the next section. If you want to try out the demo software provided by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, you'll also need to connect a camera, such as one of the Raspberry Pi's camera modules. (We used the Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 in the image earlier.) It can be connected after the HAT+ is installed. The board also has a cutout for the cable to pass through so there is no problem adding or removing a camera later if you don't plan on using it.

(Credit: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

No other hardware is strictly required, but if you want to equip your Raspberry Pi with a heatsink or fan, the installation leaves room for you to do so.

Software setup and exploring demos

With everything assembled, you're ready to tackle the software to use your AI hardware. The company recommends that you make sure your Pi 5 is running the latest version of the Raspberry Pi operating system as well as the latest updates before installing the Pi AI Kit. We definitely agree with this advice and follow it before connecting the HAT+.

Next, you need to install the drivers and software required to run Hailo AI Accelerator. You accomplish this by typing this command into Terminal…

$ sudo apt hailo-all install

…and rebooting the device after installation. If you want to try out the included demos, you'll need to download them using the following command to get…

Recommended by our editors

$ git clone – -depth 1 ~/rpicam-apps

Currently, there are three demos available that focus on using AI with the camera. Raspberry Pi calls the first of these the Pose Estimation Demo. It feels fairly familiar to anyone who owns an Xbox Kinect or similar device, as it basically tracks your body movements by following 17 points on your body. The demo worked perfectly when I tested it, tracking my arm and body movements with reasonable accuracy.

The second is an object detection demo that tries to identify objects you hold in front of the camera. This also seems to work properly, but with more errors, sometimes giving the wrong answer at first or changing answers. For example, it knew I was a person and my cat was a cat, but it thought my screwdriver (with a small handle) was a pen.

The third demo focuses on image segmentation and allows you to isolate objects, the idea being that you can then remove the object or background and replace it with something else.

Verdict: Still under development.

All three demos provided worked with only minor errors that weren't too far off the mark. As it is, the Raspberry Pi AI Kit is fun to play with, but there's little reason to buy it unless you plan to use it to learn to build programs or devices that take advantage of AI power. .

(Credit: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

At its core, the Raspberry Pi 5 and the new AI Kit are intended for use by students and hobbyists who want to learn to program and build their own semi-custom devices, and we see no reason why the Kit Don't be fine. It doesn't have much to offer if you don't want to develop your own code (at least for now), but it's a way to get the ball rolling on low-cost independent AI software development. It is the best way.

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