BBC Reveals Production Micro Bit Computer, Hopes To Inspire One Million Kid Coders

Move over Raspberry Pi, there’s a new micro computer in town, and it’s geared [for now] primarily at British schoolchildren. We first brought you news about the Micro:bit in early March as a part of the BBC’s “Make it Digital” campaign. At the time the device was still in the prototype stage, but the device is now being shown to the public in its final production form.

The Micro:bit measures just 2-inches by 1.6-inches and is powered by a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 processor. You’ll also find two push buttons for input, a microUSB connector, Bluetooth connectivity, an accelerometer, a compass, and 25 programmable LED lights clustered around the center of the board (you can see more of the device’s specs by visiting this BBC site).

BBC Micro Bit

The BBC will give one million Micro:bit computers to every Year 7 student (11 to 12 year olds) in the UK as a means to stir their creative juices. Students will be able to code in JavaScript, Python, C++, and Block Editor (graphical coding language) with the help of TouchDevelop, a software platform that grew out of Microsoft Research in 2009. TouchDevelop can be used on both PCs and mobile devices, which makes coding even more accessible. Students will be able to gain assistance when working on code, and when completed, the code can be transferred to the Micro:bit using the aforementioned USB port or wirelessly via Bluetooth.

BBC Micro Bit

While the Micro:bit was originally supposed to come with its own onboard button battery, the final production device instead uses a separate pack that accepts two AAA batteries and plugs directly into the board. The added bulk of the battery pack may limit the the usefulness of the Micro:bit for more adventurous projects (think wearable computing), but it shouldn’t be a deterrent for school kids that are learning the ropes with respect to coding.

As you might have already surmised, the BBC didn’t go at this project all alone; it had plenty of help from some big names in the tech community including ARM, Microsoft, and Samsung. “The simple truth is, being a maker matters. Real computing, doing not just consuming, will drive a creative revolution in this country,” said Microsoft UK CEO Michel Van der Bel. “That’s why as a key partner in Make it Digital, Microsoft is helping to give a programmable Micro:bit device to every year seven child in the country.”

One the initial run of one million Micro:bit computers is delivered to school children, the BBC plans to license out the design to other computers to keep production flowing.