Computers

BBC unveils final design for pocket-sized micro:bit computer

The pocket computer has a programmable array of 25 red LED lights, two buttons, and a built-in motion sensor.
The pocket computer has a programmable array of 25 red LED lights, two buttons, and a built-in motion sensor.
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The micro:bit will be passed out for free in October to children age 11 and 12 who currently enrolled in Year 7 in school.
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The micro:bit will be passed out for free in October to children age 11 and 12 who currently enrolled in Year 7 in school.
The pocket computer has a programmable array of 25 red LED lights, two buttons, and a built-in motion sensor.
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The pocket computer has a programmable array of 25 red LED lights, two buttons, and a built-in motion sensor.

The BBC showed off the final design for its micro:bit computer this week. The pint-sized computer, which has a Raspberry Pi feel, will be given out to one million schoolchildren in the UK in October of this year, giving them the opportunity to learn how to code at an early age.

“We happily give children paint brushes when they’re young, with no experience – it should be exactly the same with technology," Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning said. "It’s our most ambitious education initiative for 30 years. And as the micro:bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis, this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry.”

The final device is a little different than the prototype we saw in March. The pocket computer has a programmable array of 25 red LED lights in a 5 x 5 array, two buttons, and a built-in motion sensor. Rather than use a watch battery, like the previous version, the final model will require the use of an add-on power pack to work without a power outlet nearby. That power pack will take AA batteries, making the device simple to power, but also a bit too hefty now to be used as a wearable device.

Other features include a built-in compass (magnetometer) so the device can tell which direction its facing, five input and output rings to connect the micro:bit to other devices using cables, and Bluetooth connectivity to connect to other devices wirelessly.

Children who receive the device will be able to learn simple coding for the device from a special micro:bit website, which will give children the ability to virtually test drive their creations before transferring them over to the micro:bit. Sample projects include using the LEDs to create patterns and letters.

The micro:bit will be passed out free in October to children age 11 and 12 who are currently enrolled in Year 7 in school, courtesy of a number of partners for the project, including Microsoft and Samsung. After that initial run, the computers will go on sale in the UK and elsewhere by the end of the year. For more on the BBC's plans for the device, check out the video, below, from Microsoft UK.

The first video below is a brief hands-on with the computer, created by ARM, while the second video, created by Microsoft UK, details some of the potential of the device.

Source: BBC

BBC and partners unveil the landmark BBC micro:bit

Microsoft and the micro:bit: 1 million ways to inspire a generation

4 comments
Brian M
Just what the world needs another Raspberry PI, Arduino etc. Just another way for the BBC to indulge itself at the licence fee payers expensive. Doesn't the BBC realize that a lot of 11-12 years olds already have a lot more powerful computer on their person - its called a smart phone. Perhaps a more useful project would be a TV series on how to write java apps aimed at a larger part of the population. The BBC an organisation unfit for purpose but brilliant at wasting licence payers money!
Paul Anthony
I would say that the application is worth more than the hardware. Share the app and virtually play with the "toy" on your computer or on your device!
Dave Lawrence
Just another way to take away their childhood and turn them into clones of their peers. Everyone has to learn how to code - to do what, exactly? How does this improve the human condition? Does learning how to code make you a doctor, a scientist, a humanitarian? Can it help us grow more food, eradicate sickness and disease, stop people from killing one another? I'm glad I'm old . . . . I wouldn't want to be growing up in a world where 11 and 12 year olds are being turned into cyphers
darkstar01
This is a great idea, however limited, it gives them the tools to learn basic programming... similar to how you could program a turtle in BASIC to go certain directions... I remember learning BASIC on a commodore 64, while the programming language is dead, I do think that the little programmable mouse was more of an inspirational tool. Maybe BBC MicroBit is just a more advanced inspirational tool?
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