Ok, you might not know what the thing in this picture actually is. The answer is a Micro:bit and it is a really cool programmable bit of kit – with Bluetooth, a compass and accelerometer built in. I’ve joined the Barclays Digital Eagles through work and I’m really excited about being part of this amazing initiative.
It’s been developed by 29 different partners (including: the BBC, Barclays Bank, Microsoft and Samsung). Although the project has been delayed (it was meant to be released in September 2015), in 2016 this project is full steam ahead. The plan now is that all year 7’s in the UK (over 1 millions kids) will have one of these for free by the end of this school year. After this it should then be available to the wider general public fairly soon afterwards through a not-for-profit BBC organisation.
For those of you who know a little something about this industry, the closest thing to this on the market at the moment is the Raspberry Pi. Both have the same purpose – to attempt to bridge the ever widening skills gap in the coding industry – and are both seriously affordable for everyone. There is no official price out for Micro:bit yet (the rumours are that it will be less than £30) but the most up to date Pi is currently available for about £30 – with the older models even cheaper.
The prominent difference between the two – in my opinion – is that the Pi has more project options long term, but the Micro:bit can make something actually happen a whole lot faster. So in terms of creating that initial ‘inspiration moment’, I think that the Micro:bit really has that extra bit of zing as a result – especially if, like me, you are a complete novice at coding.
One really cool thing about the Micro:bit – because it’s meant to be something that can be taught to kids in school – is that there is already a huge collection of free online resources available on the BBC. This tiny bit of kit is also being backed by some huge stars and Will.I.am (who does actually have a huge interest in tech) has also added some of his ideas into the mix of what you can do with it.
The theory is that this will inspire a generation of kids to want to fill the skills shortage of coders we currently have in the global jobs market. However, if you’re an adult (like me) who want’s to get ahead of the curve, then this is the thing you have been waiting for.