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BBC micro:bit coding computer for kids gets artificial intelligence update © micro:bit/PA

BBC micro:bit coding computer for kids gets artificial intelligence update

Published: 13th October, 2020 at 15:29
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The new device will go on sale in mid-November, starting at £11.50.

The pocket-sized computer micro:bit is being updated for the first time since 2016 with the latest technology to help children code.


The device is now four times faster and includes a built-in speaker and microphone, as well as upgrades making it possible to experiment with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Micro:bit was first launched by the BBC in 2016, as a successor to the BBC Micro that introduced many schoolchildren to computing in the 1980s. It is designed to support the school curriculum on computing and improve digital skills, containing sensors that can detect motion and direction.

During its initial revival, free devices were given to every Year 7 student in the UK. More than five million original micro:bits are used in classrooms around the world.

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“From the very beginning, the BBC’s purpose has been to inform, educate and entertain – qualities which are all reflected in the micro:bit project,” said BBC Director General Tim Davie.

“Since its launch through our Make it Digital campaign, it has helped transform digital skills and learning. I have no doubt the updated and upgraded micro:bit will drive further innovation and creativity, both in the UK and around the world.”

The device will go on sale in mid-November from £11.50.

“The purpose of the micro:bit is to help children unlock their creative potential and learn how to shape the world around them,” said Gareth Stockdale, chief executive of the micro:bit Educational Foundation.

“Learning coding and computational thinking can enhance their life chances in the 21st Century. We have worked closely with our thriving community to make it even easier to get the most out of the device both inside and outside the classroom.


“Getting hands-on and experimenting with the micro:bit is critical to helping children better understand important technologies early in their development, and we aim to make this as fun, accessible and affordable as possible.”

Can Raspberry Pi be programmed for virtual reality?

Yes. You should be able to plug a Raspberry Pi into any VR headset that features an HDMI input. That’s all you’d need to run VR programmes on the affordable mini-computer.

That said, Raspberry Pi tells me that they are still some distance from being able to give people the opportunity to work on programming their own VR environments, but that’s a software tool issue rather than a hardware issue. For this to happen, ideally a VR headset manufacturer would need to release their developer tools to Raspberry Pi, who tell me they would be delighted to hear from them!

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Sara RigbyOnline staff writer, BBC Science Focus

Sara is the online staff writer at BBC Science Focus. She has an MPhys in mathematical physics and loves all things space, dinosaurs and dogs.


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