The BBC will give 1 million school children in the UK a tiny pocket computer to learn programming.
The BBC unveiled today the final version of the micro:bit computer. As reported, the simple pocket-size computer will be given to about 1 million school kids this fall to learn programming. The BBC of course is no computer maker. The British Broadcasting Company partnered with 29 companies to make the Micro Bit computer a reality.
Partners for the Micro Bit include ARM, Barclays, BBC, element14, Freescale, Lancaster University, Microsoft, Nordic Semiconductor, Samsung, ScienceScope, Technology Will Save Us and the Wellcome Trust.
The most lifting for the hardware was done by ARM, Freescale and Samsung. The BBC micro:bit was created using the ARM mbed hardware and software development kits (HDK and SDK) and compiler services. The project builds on the organization’s collaboration on the original 1981 BBC Microcomputer.
ARM mbed software enables Lancaster University's micro:bit runtime solution and the Microsoft programming interface sits on top of mbed's professional-grade cloud compiler service, converting users’ programs into micro:bit code. These files are ‘flashed’ onto the device over USB or BLE for the board to run. The ARM mbed developer tools are available for students to take their microbit experience to the next level to develop low level programming skills.
Freescale is responsible for supplying the accelerometer, the magnetometer, and the Micro-USB controller. Freescale have worked on the hardware of the micro:bit. They have provided the Kinetis KL26 MCU micro-controller that manages the micro:bit’s USB connection. This allows the users to connect the micro:bit to their computers. Once connected the micro:bit will appear in a similar way to a usb drive. Users can then drag their compiled code file onto the micro:bit and run it.
Freescale have also provided the accelerometer and magnetometer motion sensors that enable the micro:bit to react to motion and the direction it’s facing. These will allow children to create exciting new applications based on position and whether they shake, turn or tilt their micro:bit.
Samsung is connecting the micro:bit to phones and tablets, so that they are able to communicate with each other. By enabling the micro:bit to tap into the functions of our everyday digital devices, it opens up a limitless possibility of imaginative uses. For example, young people could code their micro:bit to launch their phone camera remotely to take a ‘selfie’ at the push of a button or they could code their micro:bit to act as a remote control to play music on their phone.
Samsung will also publish an app that will support the micro:bit coding environment from mobile devices, allowing young people to program on-the-go.
In the 1980s, the BBC Micro introduced many children to computing for the first time. Part of the BBC’s 2015 Make it Digital initiative, the BBC micro:bit builds on the legacy of the Micro for the digital age, and aims to inspire young people to get creative with digital; develop core skills in science, technology and engineering; and unleash a new generation of digital makers, inventors and pioneers.
Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC says: “Channelling the spirit of the Micro for the digital age, the BBC micro:bit will inspire a new generation in a defining moment for digital creativity here in the UK. All you need is your curiosity, creativity and imagination – we’ll provide the tools. This has the power to be transformative for the UK. The BBC is one of the few organizations in the world that could convene something on this scale, with such an unprecedented partnership at its core.”
Micro Bit key features:
25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories
Two programmable buttons activated when pressed. Use the micro:bit as a games controller. Pause or skip songs on a playlist.
On-board motion detector or 'accelerometer' that can detect movement and tell other devices you’re on the go. Featured actions include shake, tilt and freefall. Turn the micro:bit into a spirit level. Light it up when something is moved. Use it for motion-activated games.
A built-in compass or 'magnetometer' to sense which direction you’re facing, your movement in degrees, and where you are. Includes an in-built magnet, and can sense certain types of metal.
Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet and interact with the world around you. Connect the micro:bit to other micro:bits, devices, kits, phones, tablets, cameras and everyday objects all around. Share creations or join forces to create multi-micro:bit masterpieces. Take a selfie. Pause a DVD or control your playlist.
Buy Now: Sony PlaysStation VR In Stock Here
Five Input and Output (I/O) rings to connect the micro:bit to devices or sensors using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs. Use the micro:bit to send commands to and from the rings, to power devices like robots and motors.