The BBC micro:bit is set to land in the little hands of year 7s across the country from today, as the corporation finally gets around to delivering its programmable computer to schools. The Raspberry Pi-like development boards will belong to students, and the BBC hopes it inspires the nation’s youngsters to take up coding.
Companies and government organisations have long complained about a digital skills shortage in the UK, and the micro:bit is designed to help combat that. Kids will be able to build a wide range of devices using the pocket-sized computer, from display boards to toy cars and even health tools.
There’s a dedicated Android app (which you can download here), and an iOS version is in the works. The BBC says that the micro:bit hardware and 'much of the' software will soon be open-sourced, and anybody unfortunate enough to not be 11 or 12 years of age right now will be able to buy it from the shops.
“This is a very special moment for us, our partners and most importantly for young people across the country," said Tony Hall, the BBC's Director-General. "The BBC micro:bit has the potential to be a seminal piece of British innovation, helping this generation to be the coders, programmers and digital pioneers of the future.”
The device itself features 25 LEDs, along with two programmable buttons, a magnetometer, accelerometer, Bluetooth and I/O rings for connecting it to real-world machines. Parents, prepare for utter confusion.