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New micro:bit provides opportunities with sound and touch

Farnell, the exclusive manufacturing partner of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, is now shipping a new BBC micro:bit.

Extended capabilities include greater memory capacity, a faster processor and, for the first time, “out of the box” sound and touch capabilities. The updated pocket-sized computer also provides future potential for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in the classroom, paving the way for children to experiment with some of the world’s most transformative technologies.

Farnell has manufactured and shipped more than five million devices since 2016, helping the Foundation reach an estimated 25 million children in more than 60 countries who have learnt digital creativity and computing skills. The micro:bit has been adopted by educational organisations around the world to support Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics (STEM) learning programmes.

The Foundation worked directly with teachers and the community of micro:bit fans to drive the selection of updates, ensuring the updated micro:bit meets current and future requirements. One of the most requested enhancements was the addition of a built-in speaker and microphone to allow children to be creative with sound and music. As part of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation’s commitment to keep the device as cost-effective and accessible as possible, the updated feature-rich micro:bit is available at the same price as the original version.

The updated micro:bit is packed with new technology and improved features, including:

  • Computing power – The main Nordic nRF52833 microprocessor runs at 64MHz with 512kB of flash storage (double the storage in comparison to the original micro:bit), and an eightfold increase in RAM to 128kB. The micro:bit also includes a discrete regulator that can supply up to 200mA of current to external accessories.
  • Audio components – A MEMS sensor microphone and 9mm magnetic loudspeaker are partnered with a dedicated recording LED to indicate when the microphone is on, allowing teachers to engage with students around privacy and the impact of listening devices.
  • Programming – Official micro:bit editors support both versions of the micro:bit simultaneously with a single download using a new type of universal hex file. For ease of use, if they are using features that are on both versions of the micro:bit, users will not have to select a device.
  • Touch capabilities – The device includes a touch sensitive logo enabling users to take on new exciting tasks or expand previous micro:bit projects.
  • Ease of use: a built-in sleep/off mode that means the board can be powered-down with batteries connected.

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation provides a range of resources for educators on, including micro:bit classroom. Micro:bit classroom makes it easy to save progress and start again at the same point in the next lesson, monitor student progress in the classroom and download code into word to provide evidence of student progress – all making programming lessons easier to manage and more productive.

Neil Tyler

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