Tuesday, July 31, 2007

One Laptop per Child hardware ships

I previously posted a link to a presentation by Nicholas Negroponte on the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project. OLPC chairman Negroponte downplays focus on the laptop hardware, stressing that this is primarily an education project. However, the laptop has now gone into production, and the BBC has published an article highlighting its engineering innovations.

This is without doubt a significant project. At the very least, it will put a nifty PC and e-book reader in the hands of millions of poor children. Some of the engineering innovations, like a monochrome display mode suitable for use in bright light, may influence mainstream laptop manufacturers (as the new iPhone may inspire cell phone manufacturers).

Built-in mesh networking will be used for connecting to a local server or other laptops. (It will be interesting to see how well the network performs when a laptop is several hops from the server).

But the biggest win will occur if those village servers are Internet gateways connecting to the rest of the world. Connectivity in developing nations is very poor, and we can only hope that backbone infrastructure projects will match the audacity of the OLPC.