Glasgow's Curious Chip has today launched an edutainment handheld gaming device aimed at getting youngsters coding, tinkering and experimenting. It rocks similar looks to Nintendo's Switch, albeit with a much lower resolution screen and a Raspberry Pi for a heart, and like Pi-based projects such as the pi-top, Hexa and Q.bo, Pip has been created to give the coders and makers of tomorrow the building blocks they need today.

"We wanted to make something that taught coding skills with real hardware," said Curious Chip's Sukhvir Dhillon. "It was important for us that people could use skills learned with Pip and go on to invent beyond our platform."

Pip is built around the Raspberry Pi compute module 3 and the Raspbian OS, and has even attracted support from Eben Upton, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Apps and games are created using a browser-based coding platform called Curiosity, which allows users to develop apps using JavaScript, Python, Lua, HTML/CSS and PHP. The computer or laptop running the Scratch-inspired programming tool can connect to Pip over Wi-Fi, and there's an emulator included so coders can try their creations out before loading them into Pip.

Interactive walk-through tutorials and suggested projects give would-be coders the basics – like generating the ever-popular Snake, Pac-Man and Minecraft, or simply getting the device's eight RGB LEDs to flash, or building up to programming smart devices. Pre-coded games and apps will come bundled with Pip, and more will be available for download.

The portable, battery-powered handheld features a 4-inch 800 x 480 capacitive touchscreen display, USB side controllers, has a built-in microphone and microphone and comes with motion sensors cooked in. Open source components and hardware should make tinkering fairly straightforward, allowing users to plug in sensors or bring Lego creations to life using Pip.

Curious Chip fully expects Pipsters to move beyond the handheld to experiment with breadboarding, use everyday objects as game controllers or go on to invent bigger and better devices. A community spirit is encouraged via an online Spaceport portal, where Pip-coders can share creations and give feedback.

The Pip project has launched today on Kickstarter. Pledges start at £150 (about US$195) – expected retail price is £199. The £50 Maker Pack level includes a Breadboard Kit and PipHAT for extended creative fun. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in August 2018. You can find out more about Pip in the pitch video below.

Sources: Curious Chip, Kickstarter

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