Monday, April 04, 2005

Low Cost Laptops .... $100 [?!?!?]

Wired News: Low-Cost Laptops for Kids in Need:

Negroponte and some MIT colleagues are hard at work on a project they hope will brighten the lives and prospects of hundreds of millions of developing world kids. It's a grand idea and a daunting challenge: to create rugged, internet- and multimedia-capable laptop computers at a cost of $100 apiece.


The laptops would be mass-produced in orders of no smaller than 1 million units and bought by governments, which would distribute them.

This will help a lot of people in the 3rd world and developing country, where computers, especially laptops, are still considered to be luxury. This project will cut cost on software, using open-source and free software instead of bundling (or bloating) the machine with the commercial apps:

Details are still being worked out, but here's the MIT team's current recipe: Put the laptop on a software diet; use the freely distributed Linux operating system; design a battery capable of being recharged with a hand crank; and use newly developed "electronic ink" or a novel rear-projected image display with a 12-inch screen.

Then, give it Wi-Fi access, and add USB ports to hook up peripheral devices.

The detailed hardware spec is yet to be revealed (or might yet to be decided). However, given the concept of being a multimedia capable computer, they should be more than capable for student doing homeworks and learn programming and application development. However, they wouldn't, I guess, be capable of playing latest games (DOOM3 eats anything for breakfast).

This, however again, is a big plus obviously. Students should spend their time doing homeworks and studying, not playing games. Those who are interested in IT and CS will have an Research/Academic-calibre system (most of us use UNIX/Linux) environment to play with.

Kudos MIT folks!

Now I would like to quote the beginning of the article, which Wired News lovely put:

In a rural Cambodian village where the homes lack electricity, the nighttime darkness is pierced by the glow from laptops that children bring from school. The students were equipped with notebook computers from a foundation run by MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte and his wife Elaine.

"When the kids bring them home and open them up, it's the brightest light source in the home," said Negroponte. "Parents love it."