The Micro Bit Is Now A Commercial Product

Micro Bit Fully Commercialised

The BBC Micro Bit, the tiny computing device designed to get children coding, is going on sale to the general public.


The device is already being delivered, free, to one million Year 7 children in schools across the UK, but it will now also be available to buy from the various partners in the project for just £12.99.


Commercial availability of the Micro Bit follows the signing of a licensing deal with the device’s manufacturer, a Leeds-based company – element 14.


The firm says it will only sell them in batches of 90, but retailers including Microsoft, the “Technology Will Save Us” organisation and Sciencescope will offer individual devices.


Element 14 is part of Premier Farnell, one of the distributors of the very successful Raspberry Pi barebones computer. Richard Curtin, strategic alliance director at element 14, is expecting a similar reception for the Micro Bit.


“It’s going to be huge,” he told me.”We’ve already got a pipeline of orders including foreign governments who’ve seen what has happened in the UK.”


The Micro Bit was meant to be the flagship of the BBC’s Make It Digital season last year but suffered a number of delays. It started arriving in schools this spring and the BBC says it has now been delivered to about 80% of schools and roughly 750,000 Year 7 children (11 and 12-year olds).


While I have heard plenty of enthusiasm from those children who have got their hands on it – and there are already plenty of exciting projects on display – there have also been frustrations from teachers.


A number have told me that the Micro Bit has arrived far too late in the school year to be of much use – “starting after half term, it’s come far too late to get proper use out of it, plus concerns about handling/failures” was one comment this morning.
But another teacher said this: “Got ours just before Easter holidays. Kids are loving using them and are even buying add-ons for them, building projects at home etc.”


It is late in the year – although the Micro Bits belong to the children who will take them home over the summer holidays.


The hope must be that their enthusiasm will continue as they join Year 8 in September, though of course there is a risk that their devices will be lost or broken by then.
The real test, however, will be whether schools and parents decide that the next Year 7 children will benefit from getting their own Micro Bits.


They could decide it is worthwhile investing in the devices now they are going to be available to buy. And there is also the prospect of some being made available for free again.
Element 14 tells me it is paying a licensing fee for the use of the BBC and Micro Bit brands – but that all of that money will be going to a charitable trust with the aim of providing an educational legacy.


The Micro Bit is entering what is now quite a crowded market for simple educational computing devices.


But if it does prove as good a seller as the Raspberry Pi, then a windfall for the charity could mean more Year 7 children getting their hands on one.



Microsoft have developed a mirror that can tell how you feel

Microsofts Mirror Can Now Read Emotions And Feelings

You CAN be smart and good-looking. That’s the message from Microsoft’s Magic Mirror – a so-called smart mirror that can recognize and greet users, read their emotions and display the weather, time and other information. All the while looking just like a regular mirror.

“Imagine when you wake up in the morning, you’re able to use the mirror to style your hair, do your make up, and while doing that, you can also view the weather,” Izzat Khair, a member of Microsoft Singapore’s developer experience team explained.

The Magic Mirror has a hidden facial-recognition camera that can detect eight human emotions, including anger, happiness and surprise. Microsoft plans to expand the mirror’s features, allowing it to show app-fed news as well as Facebook and Twitter feeds in a display panel.

Microsoft Magic Mirror

The mirror was still at the demo stage but had real business potential, Khair said, pointing out that the advertising and marketing industries, for example, could use the technology.

“Imagine on the monitor of the mirror, you’re able to play an advertisement. And you have a camera that can snap a photo of the users that are viewing the advertisement,” he said.

The mirror’s facial-recognition features could then provide real-time information to advertisers on how viewers reacted to the advertisement, he added.

The Magic Mirror was one of a number of tech products on display at InnovFest UnBound 2016, a digital technology conference, to illustrate the changing ways users were interacting with technology.

Credit: CNBC

Google Was Scared Microsoft Would Dominate Smartphone Market

Google Terrified Of Microsoft

Today, Google owns the most widely used mobile operating system in the world, but there was a time when it was seriously concerned Microsoft would dominate the market.


That might seem laughable today, given Microsoft’s 1% market share compared with Google’s 80%, according to data from Gartner. But before Android’s launch in 2008, its co-founder Rich Miner, now a general partner at Google Ventures, wrote an internal email describing the need for an open-source mobile operating system. The email emerged yesterday (May 12) at the Google-Oracle trial in federal court in San Francisco where the two companies are arguing over whether Google created Android using Java APIs without the proper licensing. Java was a technology of Sun Micro-systems, which Oracle acquired in 2009.


“If an open platform is not introduced in the next few years then Microsoft will own the programmable handset platform,” wrote Miner. “Palm is dying, RIM (aka. Blackberry) is a one-trick pony, and while Symbian (a closed operating system) is growing market share it’s becoming a Nokia only solution”.

Credit: Quartz

iPhone 7 Sneak (leaked) Peek Photos Of Confirmed Design

A Sneak Peek At The iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 is already Apple’s most controversial iPhone to date. Not just for the radical changes Apple will make, but for what will remain unchanged. And now those decisions appeared to be carved in stone…

Confirming both good news and bad this week is the ever reliable The French website has famously attained designs ahead of release for the Galaxy S6, S7, Note 5, iPhone 6S and SE and now it has pulled off this trick again with schematics for the iPhone 7. So let’s break them down:

The Bad News

What immediately stands out about the schematics (mostly likely CAD drawings) is the iPhone 7 will indeed retain a virtually identical design to both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S.



How identical? Right down to the last millimetre:

iPhone 7 – 67.12mm wide, 138.3mm tall
iPhone 6S – 67.1mm wide, 138.3mm tall (official Apple specs)
Furthermore it isn’t just the dimensions. The overall look of the iPhone 6S is retained and Nowhereelse says it also expects the iPhone 7 to be exactly 7.1mm thick – the same as the iPhone 6S and 1mm thicker than the iPhone 6.

If Apple fans were expecting the traditional hardware redesign associated with an iPhone ‘number change’ year then they look set to be disappointed. This will be the third generation of iPhone to look like the iPhone 6.


The Good News

And yet, if you look more closely, there are positives to be had.

Firstly, while the schematics appear to show the iPhone 7 will indeed miss out on the dual camera said to be launching in a new ‘iPhone 7 Pro’ model, it will get some optical enhancement. This can be seen by the increased cut-out space for the camera module, which is noticeably larger than on the iPhone 6S.



Apple is famously reluctant to increase the mega pixels of its iPhone cameras and given rivals are also returning to 12MP a bump here seems unlikely. Instead the extra space would allow for a module with larger individual pixels and a faster aperture. The former would enable Apple to catch up lost ground on Samsung with better low light performance, while the latter would capture images more quickly therefore reducing blur.

Secondly, the schematics don’t show any antenna lines on the back of the iPhone 7. This could simply be an omission on a render primarily designed to convey dimensions, but Apple is known to be working on removing the unsightly bands and this keeps that hope alive.

The Big Question

Needless to say, the iPhone 7 will inevitably be faster than any iPhone to date and it will feature a slightly bigger battery as well. But overall the question has to be asked: Is this really the model to reverse Apple’s first ever year-on-year iPhone sales decline?

On the face of it the answer looks set to be ‘No’, but there remains enough time for Apple to pull out surprises which have users once more queuing around the block.

Of course making the iPhone 7 such an incremental upgrade may also be the reason why leaks are already appearing for a far more exciting ‘all glass’ iPhone 8 in 2017. After all this would be the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone and a fine time for Apple to Wow us all over again.

But in the meantime, the iPhone 7 has it all to do…



Windows 10 upgrades will cost £85 from July 30th

Microsoft To Charge £85 For Windows Upgrade

Microsoft is reminding everyone today that the free promotion for Windows 10 upgrades is finishing soon. The software maker first released Windows 10 as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 machines on July 29th last year, giving everyone a year to upgrade at no cost. Many had assumed Microsoft would keep the free upgrade rolling past the year cut off, but it appears the company is sticking to its original promise.

In an announcement of 300 million Windows 10 users, Microsoft has started driving awareness of the July 29th date. “Time is running out,” says Yusuf Mehdi, who heads up Microsoft’s Windows and devices marketing efforts. “The free upgrade offer will end on July 29th and we want to make sure you don’t miss out.” After July 29th, Microsoft says you’ll need to purchase a full version of Windows 10 Home for $119 (£85-ish) or get Windows 10 on a new machine.


Windows 10 has proved popular, especially with 300 million machines now running it, but the company wants one billion devices using the software within the next two years. Reminding people that they only have two months left to upgrade free of charge is one way of driving upgrade numbers, but opting to extend the promotion could also have similar results. It’s hardly surprising that Microsoft is sticking to its original plans, but there’s still time left for the company to change its mind.

Source: The Windows Blog