BBC officially unveils micro:bit microcomputer design

The BBC has shown the design of the micro:bit: the microcomputer that the company wants to provide to education. The final version has two buttons and a series of LEDs, but compared to the prototype shown earlier, the battery has disappeared.

The dimensions of the BBC micro:bit are 4x5cm. The gem has a magnetometer and accelerometer and there is support for bluetooth low energy. The processor is an ARM Cortex M0. Unlike the previous prototype, the microcomputer does not have its own battery, but can be supplied with power via an external accessory with AA batteries. In addition, the USB connection for the power supply can be used.

The board contains an array of 25 LEDs, arranged in a 5×5 pattern, with which, for example, numbers and letters can be displayed. The BBC has also chosen to add two buttons, so that the micro:bit can be used as a controller, for example. There are also five input/output rings to connect the micro:bit to other sensors or systems.

The BBC will provide the systems free of charge to students aged 11 to 12 in October, mainly to teach them how to code. After that month, the micro:bit will also be available for sale to others. The development is part of the Make it Digital project, to which ARM, Freescale, Barclays Bank, Samsung, Microsoft and Lancaster University are also contributing.

It’s not the BBC’s first computer project: in the 1980s, the broadcaster released the Micro, made by Acorn Computers. That system was sold 1.5 million times and was widely used in universities and schools. The BBC Micro was a major competitor of the ZX Spectrum, also British-made at the time.