The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon

How to remote­ly access your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame from any­where

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I have built quite a few dig­i­tal pic­ture frames based on the Rasp­berry Pi for fam­i­ly & friends in recent years. These frames are deployed all over the world. Although they require very lit­tle to no main­te­nance, there is always a time when some­thing doesn't work, or there is a new fea­ture that you want to roll out.

There are var­i­ous ways how to access a remote Rasp­berry Pi, but one that stands out for me for ease of use and reli­a­bil­i­ty is Dat­a­plic­i­ty.

In this arti­cle, I will show you how it works and how to set it up.

Do you need remote access to your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame?

If you have built only one dig­i­tal pic­ture frame for home use, you may not need this solu­tion.

But if you have built one for your par­ents, sib­lings, or you have a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame at your week­end home, then you should read on.

Things in our house­hold exclu­sive­ly seem to break when­ev­er I am not home. In such an event I typ­i­cal­ly receive a deter­mined call from my beloved wife, order­ing me to do some­thing.

And some­times in the past, even if very rarely, this hap­pened with our dig­i­tal pic­ture frame which has a promi­nent place in our liv­ing room. I had prob­a­bly rolled out a new home automa­tion fea­ture with­out suf­fi­cient test­ing (as you may have guessed I like tin­ker­ing) and hadn't thought all impli­ca­tions through to the end.

But any­way, the result was that our frame was dark, she was expect­ing guests, and I was on a busi­ness trip.

In sit­u­a­tions like these, it would have been help­ful to access the Rasp­berry Pi pow­er­ing the dig­i­tal pic­ture frame remote­ly to make a few changes to hope­ful­ly get it up and run­ning again in no time.

Also, if you have giv­en a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame to non-IT-lit­er­ate peo­ple, it's help­ful to be able to access it remote­ly with­out requir­ing any inter­ac­tion on site.

It may be lit­tle things like chang­ing a wifi SSID or pass­word, adding a new fea­ture or just mak­ing a gen­er­al sys­tem update to ensure that the oper­at­ing sys­tem has all the lat­est secu­ri­ty fix­es.

You may not need it for two years, but when you need it, you will be hap­py to have it!

Intro­duc­ing Dat­a­plic­i­ty

Dat­a­plic­i­ty is the brain­child of Elliot Macken­zie, the founder of Machine­For­est, a "man­u­fac­tur­er of net­­work-con­nec­t­ed things" as the com­pa­ny calls itself. They are based in Oxford, Unit­ed King­dom, the coun­try that brought us the Rasp­berry Pi!

I always like to know who is behind soft­ware solu­tions to under­stand their moti­va­tion and the poten­tial of any harm­ful use espe­cial­ly if you install it on a net­worked com­put­er.

In the case of Dat­a­plic­i­ty, I believe that the devel­op­ers are trust­wor­thy. They even pub­lish the source code of a script that is being down­loaded and pro­vide lots of doc­u­men­ta­tion.

Dat­a­plic­i­ty is a small piece of soft­ware that you install on your Rasp­berry Pi pow­er­ing your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame which allows you to access the ter­mi­nal.

The dat­a­plic­i­ty installer script cre­ates a ‘dat­a­plic­i­ty’ user account which is marked as a sys­tem ser­vice account. This client runs as an unpriv­i­leged user which means when you con­nect using the dat­a­plic­i­ty shell, you still need to enter your sudo pass­word to get supe­ruser access to your device.

As long as your remote Rasp­berry Pi has a func­tion­ing inter­net con­nec­tion, you can con­trol it as if you were in the local net­work.

Installing Dat­a­plic­i­ty

When you go to dataplicity.com, you will be asked to pro­vide an email (as your account name). Hit "Start", and you will get a line of code that you copy and paste in the Ter­mi­nal of the Rasp­berry Pi that you want to con­trol. So do it before your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame leaves the house!

Go to "Devices" and click on your Rasp­berry Pi.

If you now enter

su pi

fol­lowed by your pass­word, you will log in with your reg­u­lar user ID.

From there on, you can do what­ev­er you would do if you and your remote com­put­er were in the same net­work.

There is even a native app for iOS and Android, as well as macOS and Win­dows 10.

Dat­a­plic­i­ty is free for one device and offers paid pack­ages with more advanced func­tion­al­i­ty.

Alter­na­tives to Dat­a­plic­i­ty

There is a good overview of var­i­ous meth­ods to access your Rasp­berry Pi over the inter­net described on the Rasp­berry Pi home­page, but I found the ease of use of Dat­a­plic­i­ty intrigu­ing.

Remote.it works sim­i­lar­ly and offers an unlim­it­ed num­ber of devices sub­ject to per­son­al fair use pol­i­cy. But it's not as easy to set up (their pass­word dia­logue drove me crazy despite using a super secure com­put­er gen­er­at­ed pass­word it had to con­tain five pre-defined char­ac­ters!), and the device isn't installed auto­mat­i­cal­ly, but with a bit of effort it works as well.

Remote-ioT offers five free non-com­mer­­cial devices and pack­ages for busi­ness­es.

Yaler.net is more for the high-end indus­tri­al use case and offers no free devices.

Losant is a large US-based com­pa­ny tar­get­ting the indus­tri­al IoT mar­ket. I couldn't find any infor­ma­tion on pric­ing on their web­site.

If you have a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame that you want to con­trol remote­ly, I would rec­om­mend using Dat­a­plic­i­ty. Noth­ing beats the ease of use of this soft­ware and it's opti­mized for the Rasp­berry Pi.

It's inter­est­ing to com­pare the web­sites of these com­pa­nies. They all sell the same prod­uct more or less, and yet the dif­fer­ence in their appear­ance is strik­ing.

On the one hand, there is Dat­a­plic­i­ty where every­thing is super sim­ple, and then there is every­body else. Decide for your­self!