The Raspberry PI Found foundation has released a new variant of the Pi Zero known as the Pi Zero W, which now boasts 802.11n and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The PI Zero W maintains the same base specifications as the PI Zero, however adds the Cypress CYW43438 wireless chipset that is included with the PI 3. The addition of wireless connectivity does come at a cost. The PI Zero W increases the cost of the module from $5 to $10. A small price to pay for the convenience of wireless connectivity.
While this may be viewed as a minor update to the PI Zero, wireless connectivity outside the confines of your project enclosure certainly expands the possibilities. For many Makers the small packaging of the PI Zero was very attractive, however the lack of connectivity was frustrating. While it’s always been possible to add a Wireless USB adapter, doing so made things less compact.
Over the last year the Maker space has seen more cloud connected offerings such as Arduino Cloud, Particle.IO and their Spark Modules, and Adafruit IO and their Feather modules. All these solutions provide a small module with built-in wireless communications and libraries to integrate with their respective cloud offerings. As a result Makers can quickly connect their projects to the cloud, and integrate with third-party analytics tools.
Interestingly, Particle.IO recently announced that it will be integrating Raspberry PI in to its cloud platform. This seems well timed with Raspberry PI Zero W, as it continues the industry trend of providing small modules with easy wireless connectivity to a cloud service. The particle IO Offering will allow you to code on its live IDE platform using Arduino style programming, and push this code to Raspberry PIs over the Air.