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Microsoft 'Gadgeteer' kits bring programming to life

Posted on 06/11/2012

Gadgeteer kits

The Department of Computer Science has been given by Microsoft three ‘Gadgeteer’ kits for students to build electronic devices ranging from electronic pets to accessibility tools, as part of their programming courses. 

Gadgeteer is a new Microsoft innovation to help experimenters connect up new devices using an open-source toolkit.   The heart of a Gadgeteer project is a high-powered processor module with many extension sockets.  Each socket connects other modules via a standard lead to make up the gadget.

Modules include touch screens, joysticks, GSM (phone connections) and GPS.  Gyroscopes, high-powered motors and blood gas analysers can even be connected!  The assembly is then programmed in C# language using a simple plugin for Microsoft Visual Studio. Due to the open nature of the design, any company can add new modules to the Gadgeteer library. 

The Department plans to use this exciting new technology to support their ‘hands-on’ approach to teaching programming – one of the unique selling points of its degrees.   Dave Cohen, professor of Computer Science, said: “We believe that students learn and enjoy programming much better by making things work, which is why we run gaming and robotics labs as part of our first-year curriculum.  We are delighted to have been given these new Gadgeteer kits which will be used for running student competitions to build interesting devices, which could include anything from electronic pets to tools for accessibility.”


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