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Raspberry Pi camera due in April

Creators of the Raspberry Pi are gearing up to release a new camera board that plugs into the pint-sized computer, and some lucky suitors can get their hands on the new accessory even before it becomes available in April.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that it will be giving away 10 free pre-production models to whoever comes up with the most inventive uses for the camera. The Foundation is looking for testers to use the board for "something computationally difficult and imaginative" to find out how it performs when pushed to the limit in real-life scenarios.

"Think about playing around with facial recognition; or hooking two of them up together and modging the images together to create some 3d output; or getting the camera to recognise when something enters the frame that shouldn't be there and doing something to the image as a result," community manager Liz Upton wrote in a blog post. "We are not looking for entries from people who just want to take pictures, however pretty they are."

The contest is open until 12 March, so those who are interested better get their thinking caps on now. Ideas can be sent to:

The Foundation said it has already sent the first camera boards into production, and expects to start selling them next month. In the meantime, they're "testing and tweaking and tuning" the software so it's ready for the launch, Upton said.

Though the Foundation initially developed the camera with 14 megapixels, it looks like the final version will use a 5-megapixel sensor for the sake of keeping the price low. The camera board measures in at 20 x 2 5 x 10mm and will attach to the Raspberry Pi with a ribbon cable.