The Raspberry Pi being installed for the ultimate hack in the TV series "Mr. Robot." It was a pivotal moment for the whole series... accomplished with a single Raspberry Pi. It was awesome. (Image credit: Mr. Robot TV series)
With Pi Day (March 14) just around the corner, engineers and makers are finishing up new projects to celebrate the annual holiday. Usually, the Foundation would commemorate the event at SXSW in Austin, Texas, but the current Coronavirus pandemic forced almost every trade show and convention to be canceled. To that end, instead of highlighting great Raspberry Pi projects from those ingenious makers and DIYers, we'll take a look at some of those that were created in the fictional world.
You might be surprised to find that the Raspberry Pi, in one form or another, had been featured in popular TV shows and movies since the development boards' release back in 2012. In some episodes of your favorite shows, the Pi has been a prominent feature showcased in a particular episode. In contrast, others use it as a piece of technology in panning shots to set the atmosphere or to give a specific room a tech-like aesthetic.
Taking the top spot on highlighting the Raspberry Pi, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Mr. Robot, a drama thriller starring Rami Malek, who plays a cyber-security engineer and hacker with a crippling social anxiety disorder. Because of his anxiety, Rami's character Elliot connects with people via hacking, which often leads him to act as a cyber vigilante of sorts, and his skills catch the eye of an insurrectionary anarchist (Mr. Robot), who recruits him as a hacktivist.
Also, personally, Mr. Robot is one of the best engineer-as-the-hero story I’ve ever seen. One of my most enjoyed shows… featuring the most perfect black hoodie! That’s another story.
Mr. Robot season 1, episode 4, "eps1.3_da3m0ns.mp4." (Image credit: Mr. Robot screen cap via YouTube)
In season 1, episode 4, Elliot devises a plan to take down E Corp's tape backups of data stored at the Steel Mountain complex, which he does by using a Raspberry Pi to bypass the facility's climate control system. This allows him to slowly raise the temperature in the room where the tapes are stored, thus destroying them, but missions rarely go as planned, and the intrigue spills over to the following episode.
The Raspberry Pi again makes an appearance in season 2, episode 5, where Angela (Elliot's childhood friend) helps to hack into the FBI to erase records of her connected to the Allsafe cybersecurity firm, which is employed to protect large nefarious corporations.
The Pi has also been featured in the Lost in Space reboot where it can be seen connected to some "sonic transducers" (season 1, episode 10), in an episode of Black Mirror being used top hotwire a van (season 4, episode 5), and in Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators, where it's used to disarm a trap (season 2, episode 4).
Point Break (2015) features a Raspberry Pi used as a bomb initiator and timer. (Image credit: The movie via YouTube)
The Raspberry Pi has also been featured in blockbuster movies, including the Point Break (2015) reboot, where it's connected to several blocks of C4 explosives, and used as an initiator and countdown timer. The Pi is outfitted with a touch display and housed in a clear plastic case, but the puzzling part is it's connected to the explosive via the Pi's audio port when the 40-pin header should have been utilized. An animated version of the Raspberry Pi was also featured in Disney's Big Hero 6, where it sits on 14-year old tech prodigy Hiro Hamada's desk in the background behind a letter from the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.
Rasberry Pi was also featured in the following series: Sense8, Arrow, CSI: Cyber, Person of Interest, continuum, Revolution, Charlie Brooker’s Election Wipe 2015, and surprisingly… Doctor Who (season 10 ep 8). See more about these entries at the fan site Raspberry Pi Spy.
While there have been a ton of real-world projects made using the Raspberry Pi, from robots to automated home systems, it seems like the only practical applications shown in TV and cinema that utilize the board are for schemes that couldn't possibly work. Mr. Robot does an excellent job highlighting the board, but I'm pretty sure using it to hack into various systems isn't feasible. That's what I used to think anyway, as [Occupytheweb] uploaded a tutorial on how to create a real-world version of the Hacking Raspberry Pi featured in the TV series on the Wonder How To (Null Byte) website. With that said, have a Happy Pi Day, and it will be interesting to see what projects will be created before next year's celebration!
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