Tag Archive | "IoT"

The BBC Micro:Bit just launched. Lucky UK kids! Video, details.

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The Micro:Bit has officially launched in the UK.  It’s about as minimalist as you can make a computing device, including the cost which is so low that 1 million of them are being given to UK school children as part of a BBC-run project. The CPU uses an ARM architecture and there are sensors on board, digital and analogue ports, a 25 LED matrix, two programmable buttons, microUSB port and Bluetooth LE. It’s so small that you can wear it as a badge. How cool is that! Check out the video below.

BBC MicroBit

BBC Micro:Bit

BBC MicroBit

BBC Micro:Bit

From the press release:

  • 25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories
  • Two programmable buttons activated when pressed. Use the micro:bit as a games controller. Pause or skip songs on a playlist.
  • On-board motion detector or ‘accelerometer’ that can detect movement and tell other devices you’re on the go. Featured actions include shake, tilt and freefall. Turn the micro:bit into a spirit level. Light it up when something is moved. Use it for motion-activated games.
  • A built-in compass or ‘magnetometer’ to sense which direction you’re facing, your movement in degrees, and where you are. Includes an in-built magnet, and can sense certain types of metal.
  • Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet and interact with the world around you. Connect the micro:bit to other micro:bits, devices, kits, phones, tablets, cameras and everyday objects all around. Share creations or join forces to create multi-micro:bit masterpieces. Take a selfie. Pause a DVD or control your playlist.
  • Five Input and Output (I/O) rings to connect the micro:bit to devices or sensors using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs. Use the micro:bit to send commands to and from the rings, to power devices like robots and motors.

The CPU is based on ARM Mbed hardware and software which is free for commercial use. Freescale provide the sensors and micro-USB controller, Lancaster University wrote the runtime OS and Microsoft have created a tailored TouchDevelop web application and hosting service (IDE.) Nordic Semiconductor are supplying the Bluetooth chip and Samsung are involved with creating mobile apps for the Micro:Bit. Element14 are in charge of manufacturing, ScienceScope are handling the distribution to schools and the Wellcome Trust are running the educational content around the Micro:Bit. There are other partners too (29 in total.)

The web-based IDE will go live at microbit.co.uk later this summer and it will give the 11-12 year olds (and probably a lot of parents) the chance to create projects, run a simulator and program the Micro:Bit.

Will it be available to buy? Well the BBC have said that they will open-source the Micro:Bit but it’s not quite clear how ‘open source’ the hardware is yet, despite the ‘free to use’ Mbit core. We’ll work on getting that information, along with more technical details, as the launch progresses.

The Micro:Bit might not be an ultramobile PC as we see it here at UMPCPortal but it’s definitely worthy of a mention and indicative of the way that computing devices will shrink even more over time.

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Micro:Bit rear, populated.

Ainol Mini PC has everything + battery for $129

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I use my Intel NUC with Atom N2820 processor daily. It’s quiet, neat and runs Openelec like a dream. It was cheap too but now I’m wondering if I should have waited. The Ainol Mini PC comes with RAM, storage, a Windows OS and a 26 Wh battery for just $129. It’s silent too!

Ainol Mini PC

Ainol Mini PC

It doesn’t have a Gigabit Ethernet port but it does have USB3.0 so adding an adaptor is no problem. Retro-fitting an infra-red reciever might be a problem though and of course this Baytrail-T ‘tablet without screen’ is not going to allow for any expansion. The storage won’t be as fast as what’s possible with the SATA interface on an Intel NUC. The biggest problem I see though is that you might have problems installing your favorite Linux distro on this due to the 32-bit UEFI bug.  Some tablets come with a 64-bit Windows not but you can clearly see that this 64-bit CPU is running a 32-bit Windows version on the Geekbuying sales page.

Along with the Baytrail-T-based dongles these are interesting IoT-style products (and with a 3G dongle could be the perfect malicious hotspot) but until they allow you to boot your chosen 64-bit OS they’re not flexible enough. If anyone finds a similar one with 64-bit UEFI bootloader, let us know.

Ainol Mini PCAinol Mini PC

Update: Voyo has a similar product with a smaller battery.

Voyo mini pc with battery.

Voyo mini pc with battery.

Hat-tip: Liliputing.