BBC's micro:bit gets a Foundation, international launch plan

October 19, 2016 | 10:10

Tags: #educational #micro-bit #microbit #microcontroller #non-profit #not-for-profit

Companies: #bbc

The BBC's micro:bit educational microcontroller is getting new leadership, as the consortium behind it announces the launch of the not-for-profit Micro:bit Educational Foundation.

Unveiled in March last year, then redesigned away from its Codebug roots before being hit by delays and further delays, the BBC's micro:bit represents the broadcaster's first major computing hardware collaboration since the Acorn BBC Micro of the 1980s. Based on a pair of ARM microcontrollers, the micro:bit includes an onboard LED grid, two buttons, accelerometer, compass, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio, all of which can be programmed in the user's browser and the device's memory flashed from any USB Mass Storage Device compatible system.

With over a million units given away free of charge to Year 7 pupils throughout the UK, thanks to Barclays funding, the micro:bit is off to a flying start. Now its creators are turning their attention to international availability, and in doing so are following in the footsteps of the Raspberry Pi by forming a not-for-profit educational foundation dubbed, unsurprisingly, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation.

'The BBC micro:bit is extremely popular with children in the UK and we're seeing a similar reaction in Iceland where young people are already using it as a trusted tool for their creative ideas,' claimed Zach Shelby, named as the chief executive officer of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. 'Our mission is to ensure that students, teachers and makers in the UK and around the world have long-term access to the micro:bit and get the support and resources that will help them imagine, invent and innovate. For us, this is about putting the micro:bit into the hands of young people everywhere, unlocking the potential to bring great ideas to life quickly.'

As part of the announcement, the Foundation has outlined a rough roadmap which will see the micro:bit get a pan-European roll-out later this year followed by North American, and Asian releases in 2017. The Foundation has also teased a new variant of the device, promised to include a more powerful processor and additional sensors, though details of this and how it will affect the pricing of the micro:bit have not yet been provided.
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