Following the immense popularity of the Raspberry Pi in the UK, BBC on Tuesday announced a similar microcomputer called Micro:bit - a spiritual successor to the original BBC Micro launched back in 1981. BBC intends to distribute one million Micro:bit (also called Micro Bit) computers to kids (11 to 12-year-olds) in the UK in October.
The Micro:bit measures 4x5cm and will be available in a range of colours (not specified). Some of the key features of this tiny computer are 25 red LED lights, two programmable buttons, an accelerometer, compass, Bluetooth Low Energy module, Micro-USB port, and five input and output (I/O) rings to connect the Micro:bit to devices or sensors using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs. An optional power pack powered by AA batteries is required to use it as a standalone computer. The Micro:bit's processor is based on an ARM Cortex-M0, and has been made by Nordic Semiconductor.
BBC has constructed the Micro:bit in partnership with 29 companies including ARM, Barclays, element14, Freescale, Lancaster University, Microsoft, Nordic Semiconductor, and Samsung. BBC intends 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.'
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The firm states that it is doing this because UK is currently facing a critical skills shortage in the technology sector. It is a part of BBC's Make it Digital initiative to inspire kids to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology. Notably, BBC also points out the Micro:bit programmable computer is meant to be used in conjunction with other more complex microcomputers like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino.
On the occasion of the launch Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC said, "Just as the BBC Micro introduced millions to personal computers 30 years ago, the BBC Micro:bit can help equip a new generation with the digital skills they need to find jobs and help grow the UK economy. It's the unique role of the BBC that allows us to bring together an unprecedented partnership to deliver such an ambitious project."