So, you've got a Raspberry Pi (or you're impatiently waiting for one to be shipped, as most of us are) and you're trying to figure out what to do with it. The options are pretty much limitless for this devilishly cute little ARM Linux system on a board, but here's something to think about from our friends at Adafruit Industries: the Adafruit Prototyping Pi Plate Kit for Raspberry Pi!
Before you go crazy, this board isn't available quite yet, as it's in testing. Pricing and ETA are still up in the air, but instead of wondering about that, let's take a look at the cool things you'll be able to do with the APPPKfRP (my own acronym!).
The kit comes in "breadboard" and "perfboard" styles for DIP chips and sensors. Breadboard is solderless because it's made of plastic and has plugs to put components on. Perfboard is similar, but has predrilled holes ringed with copper to accommodate wire wrapping or point-to-point wiring for connections. Either kind is reusable, which is worlds better than the old-school boards, which were sometimes (back in the day) actually wooden boards with components nailed and soldered on!
The plate contains power and various pins (GPIO/I2C/SPI) along the edges for greater ease of use, as well as near screw-terminal blocks so you can wire your zany mechanical contrivances to it without difficulty. For older chips without DIP formatting, there's an SOIC surface-mount chip breakout as well.
So, what does all of this mean?
Embedded computing is all the rage right now. It's all around you and consists of anything from digital watches to systems that control nuclear power plants. With this device and the Raspberry Pi, you have most of the tools necessary to build a ridiculous number of cool things. Your smartphone is a perfect example of an embedded system, in fact.
Once the Internet at large gets hold of Adafruit's tech with the Raspberry Pi, the sky's going to be the limit for smart embedded systems computing.