The BBC has finally launched it’s new micro:bit project in London. At the event, many partners showcased potential uses for the Micro:Bit. It could be used as a game controller or to steer a simple robot buggy. It could also be used to control smartphone applications such as a music player.
The Micro Bit features a programmable array of red LED lights, which includes two buttons and a built-in motion sensor. This feature was not included in the prototype which was revealed in March. Not only this, but another change has been introduced. The Micro Bit no longer has a slot for a thin battery. This dashes the hopes as its main appeal- a wearable device. If it has to be as a standalone device, then an add-on power pack, fitted with AA batteries will have to be used. The micro:bit has a display consisting of 25 red LEDs and two programmable buttons. It also has a built-in compass or “magnetometer” and bluetooth Smart Technology. Along with three Input and Output (I/O) rings , there is an n-board motion sensor or “accelerometer.”
School children will program their BBC micro:bit using a specially-developed graphical programing interface and tools located on a dedicated website that can be accessed from a PC, tablet, or smartphone. A personal area on the website will allow children to save and test their creations using an on-line simulator before transferring them to the BBC micro:bit.
It is a good thing that BBC is actually targeting children of the age group 11to 12. At that age children are very receptive to new things. Exposing them to electronics, programing, and technology, could ignite a life-long passion that might otherwise have been missed. Children are innovative as well and can make great use of the Micro:Bit provided that appropriate training is imparted to them. Many new and bright ideas could pop up from these young minds which in turn could benefit the electronics industry.
The Director Speaks
The Micro-bit is a pocket-sized computer which is to be given to around one million UK-based children next month. It is a part of the corporation’s Make It Digital initiative. Tony Hall, director general of BBC said that the device should help tackle the fact children were leaving school knowing how to use computers but not how to program them. “We all know there’s a critical and growing digital skills gap in this country and that’s why it’s so important that we come together and do something about it,” he was quoted saying at a launch event in London. He intends tapping the creative opportunities that the device has to offer.
BBC Learning head Sinead Rocks said: “The BBC Micro Bit is all about young people learning to express themselves digitally. 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.”
OTHER PLANS FOR MICRO BIT:
The company has also announced its plans to form a non-profit organization around the Micro:Bit brand and making the hardware open-source. It will benefit other hardware companies as they will have a chance to alter and sell Micro:Bit devices “in the UK and internationally”.