BeagleBoard (BB) family of products offer low-power open-source hardware single-board computers. They are gathered around general purpose ARM based Texas Instruments OMAP system-on-a-chip solutions. As with many similar products, initial intent was to create device which would provide educational value to the users. Made with open source in mind, it is marketed under Creative Commons share-alike license.
Highly capable variant of the BB family is BeagleBoneBlack (BBB). Among other features it has support for accelerated video and audio decoding, respectable working memory capacity and capable ARM processor capable of running fully-fledged operating system distributions. These include many Linux flavors, FreeBSD, RISC OS, QNS, Angstrom, Symbian and Android. It features connectivity through USB, Fast Ethernet, serial port and also provides JTAG for advanced debugging. Audio and video outputs are present as well.
Illustration 1: BeagleBoardBlack
One interesting feature of the BeagleBoards is availability or Programmable Realtime Units onboard (PRUs). They allow to perform embedded tasks for handling system events that have tight realtime constraints. This qualifies them for development of time critical applications and application in strictly defined environments across range of industries, relevant example being automotive industry. We will elaborate on this feature in further articles, since this gives material for some interesting topic.
Other variants of the board feature capabilities such as Wireless and Bluetooth support, range of sensors, Inertial Measurement Unit over the range of BeagleBone Black, BeagleBone Black Wireless, BeagleBone Blue, BeagleBone Green, BeagleBoard X15, BeagleBoard xM and base BeagleBoard models.
Illustration 2: BeagleBoard rev B.
BB has large and vibrant community which is very eager to offer advice and support on projects and developments. Also, there is a large range of supported expansion boards called capes which can add to functionality of base general-purpose computer. These span from communication capes for GPRS/GSM, standard BUS infrastructures, GPS and IMU systems, to power management systems, prototyping tools, motor control units, video drivers and much more.
Visit https://beagleboard.org/ and learn more about the development board. Further resources on available capes which officially support particular variants of the board can be found here: http://elinux.org/Beagleboard:BeagleBone_Capes.