Monday, May 26, 2008

One Laptop Per Child - Version 1.5

olpc Nicholas Negroponte had a good idea: a cheap laptop for the poor children of the world loaded with software and connected to the Internet.

With this in mind, he (along with a few friends) formed a nonprofit group.  They called it OLPC:  One Laptop Per Child.  The organization's mission statement says:

Any nation's most precious natural resource is its children. We believe the emerging world must leverage this resource by tapping into the children's innate capacities to learn, share, and create on their own. Our answer to that challenge is the XO laptop, a children's machine designed for “learning learning.”

Last December OLPC began shipping first version of the XO laptop. 

Version 1 is an amazingly powerful machine for a hundred dollars.   OK, so it actually ended up costing twice as much as projected ($200) and it looks a little like Kermit.  But it is rugged, Internet connected and has great battery life.  All in all a pretty impressive achievement.

Naturally there critics and detractors.  Those who disparage the machine as too simplistic and not powerful enough.  Those who question Nicholas Negraponte's motives. There are Techies who are scandalized that OLPC decided to go ahead and use Microsoft Windows as an alternative operating system.  And to be fair the first version has had it's share of hardware failures and distribution problems.  But all in all, it is a wonderful idea and an impressive achievement.

Of course any technology you can buy is already obsolete.  So last week at the MIT Media Lab, OLPC announced a new version of the laptop.  Dubbed Version 1.5, it is slated for release in 2010 at the low, low price of $75.00. 

Guess what -- the thing is an eBook!

The ideaolpc2 is pretty interesting.  You take two DVD type player screens, add touch capacity and hinge them together.  The book-like configuration can be easily used to simulate book reading.    olpckeyboard  




Or you can turn it sideways, bring up a touchable image of a keyboard to use for typing and position the other side as a traditional laptop screen. 

Pretty cool, from my point of view!  Makes me wish I were a kid again (sort of).  I can't think of a better way to get a child to learn or to read a book for that matter.

Note:  OLPC (like all non profits) can use your help to make this dream a reality.  Find out how you can participate!

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