element14, part of global electronics distributor Premier Farnell, has announced an exclusive deal with PiFace Digital, a new easy to use board that allows the Raspberry Pi to control and sense physical devices such as lights, motors and sensors. The new board is targeted at beginners of all ages. It is hoped to appeal to schoolchildren, in particular the 7-16 year age bracket and includes a range of learning materials designed by the University of Manchester aimed at making the device easy for teachers to use in the classroom.
Designed and manufactured in the UK, PiFace Digital will be part of a family of accessories that add extra functionality and capability to the popular Raspberry Pi computer. PiFace Digital is available as an assembled I/O expansion board and stacks on top of the Raspberry Pi to let users make easy screw-terminal connections to control real-world devices such as motors and solenoids and read basic sensors and switches. Customers can pre-register their interest now on the PiFace Digital pre-registration page with shipping due to commencing in the New Year.
PiFace Digital is the brainchild of British inventor and designer Dr Andrew Robinson and was created to inspire a future generation of engineers to support an outreach programme at the School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester. True to its roots, PiFace Digital shares the values of the Raspberry Pi and aims to enthuse children to learn about programming and electronics. Its ease of use and £20 price make it a perfect educational tool. The learning materials and class tutorials designed by the University of Manchester support teachers and lecturers to overcome the obstacles of developing lessons for use with the board. The companion book “Raspberry Pi Projects” supports PiFace Digital providing practical guidance, background knowledge and inspiration for fun projects.
“I grew up playing with and programming the computers of the 1980’s and this is a skill which has largely disappeared from classrooms today”, said Dr Andrew Robinson, of School of Computer Science, Manchester University. “Most importantly PiFace Digital is about having fun with computers. Being able to control a physical device brings computing to life and adds real world relevance. The simple design of PiFace Digital means that even young children can get set up and be flashing lights in seconds.”
“The global interest surrounding Raspberry Pi has been phenomenal,” said Mike Buffham, Global Head of EDE at element14. “Raspberry Pi is bringing coding back to the mainstream and custom built accessories such as the PiFace Digital provides a crucial stepping stone. This exclusive agreement will allow us to provide enhanced functionality and an even better experience for the 10,000’s of dedicated Pi enthusiasts and students who are eager to learn electronics.”