The Raspberry Pi is a small, inexpensive, low-power computer board designed for use in educational environments — and the device has also proved very popular with DIY folks looking to build low-power computing devices.
While it’s always been possible to hook up a camera using one of the Raspberry Pi’s USB ports, the official camera accessory is designed to interface with the CSI port on the tiny computer.
This leaves a USB port free, and allows the 5MP camera to interface directly with the Raspberry Pi computer.
You can find instructions for adding support for the camera to the Raspbian Linux software for the mini-computer and using it to shoot H.264 video or snap photos at the Raspberry Pi blog.
You can also set up the camera as a webcam and use it to stream video to a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.
You can also find a more detailed guide (in PDF format) at retail partner Premier Farnell’s website.
The Raspberry Pi Camera Module sells for about $30, which isn’t a lot of money until you think about the fact that the Raspberry Pi computer sells for $25 and up. Right now the camera module only seems to be available for purchase in select regions, including the UK.