A new version of the pocket-sized BBC micro:bit computer is coming to schools worldwide, packed with new features designed to keep young students up-to-date with the latest hot trends in technology.
New hardware will help young coders make experiments with artificial intelligence, and build applications running machine-learning systems. The micro:bit 2.0 also includes, for the first time, a built-in speaker and microphone, so that sound-based projects no longer have to be connected to exterior audio systems – while also letting the device respond and react to sounds like clapping.
And in a nod to big tech and the industry’s privacy headaches, an LED will flash to make it clear when the microphone is on and sensing sound, to encourage young users to reflect on the pervasiveness of listening devices.
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“We want to support teachers teaching or taking their first steps with digital creativity and coding,” Gareth Stockdale, CEO of the micro:bit educational foundation, told ZDNet.
“So, listening to what teachers would find useful was really important, and making and creating with sounds always came out at the top. That’s why we worked on playful sounds and personality for the micro:bit, not just monotone beeps and buzzes.”
Available from mid-November 2020, the micro:bit’s new features are coming four years after the first iteration of the device was released as part of an effort to help children get to grips with basic programming skills.
A 4×5-centimetre computer complete with two programmable buttons, LEDs, and I/O rings to connect to other objects, the first micro:bit launched in 2016 with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology. The goal was to enable children with no prior knowledge of computing to easily code the computer with something simple in seconds, using a