Readers of a certain age may remember the SMART Response XE, a handheld computer released for educational purposes in around 2009 but since discontinued. Currently available very cheaply as a result (we’ve seen the opportunity to buy a box of 32 units for less than $300) they are becoming good targets for experimental hacks. Ingenious hacker chmod775 has turned an XE into a fully functional Linux terminal computer, as highlighted by Hackaday (opens in new tab).
The idea of the SMART Response XE was that teachers could compile a test or other assessment on a host PC (a Pentium 4 was required, or an early Intel Mac) then distribute it to a fleet of XEs via IEEE 802.15.4 low-power wireless, the standard used these days in Zigbee and other home automation standards. The XE probably has more processing power than a Hue lightbulb, but its ATmega128RFA1 microcontroller and wireless transceiver unit isn’t exactly going to run Crysis.
Pupils answered the questions on their terminals, and received immediate feedback as to whether they were right or wrong, while the teacher got all sorts of stats about pupil performance.
Experimenter chmod775 (opens in new tab) has turned an XE into a fully functional Linux computer, albeit command line only, by loading a terminal emulator onto the ATmega128RFA1 and hiding a NanoPi Neo Air in the battery bay where four AAA cells once sat. This causes something of a power deficit, which is fixed by adding a USB power supply.