The BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor is a new kit designed to help kids learn how to write code that can control robots or interact with IoT hardware.

It’s an interesting little educational platform, but one of the things I find most interesting about the kit is that it’s one of the first consumer-oriented products powered by a RISC-V processor made by SiFive.

RISC-V is an instruction set architecture (ISA) positioned as an open source alternative to the x86_64 and ARM ISAs at the heart of most of the chips used in mainstream computers, phones, and many other devices.

SiFive has built its business around developing RISC-V chips, but so far SiFive has focused on embedded products, development boards, and custom silicon. The closest the company has gotten to a consumer device being the new SiFive HiFive Unmatched dev board that you could maybe use to build a PC if you really wanted to.

The new BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor kit from BBC Learning and Tynker is very much a consumer device… albeit one with an educational focus.

Shaped like a hand packed with a series of LED lights, a few buttons, built-in sensors, support for WiFi, Bluetooth, and an external battery pack and speaker, the kit can be programmed to perform different functions.

The Doctor Who theme comes through a set of educational courses where Jodie Whittaker, the Thirteenth Doctor, provides narration to guide kids through various tasks.

The kit is said to be appropriated for kids ages 7 and up, and it’s available for pre-order now for $75 and should ship starting November 23, 2020.

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  1. Oh wow. So it looks like this might be intended to be pin compatible with the MicroBIT. It also packs an ESP32 if I’m reading the module correctly. I wonder if that chip will be exposed to programming as well.

    Very cool kit!