New $ 150 Laptops for Developing Countries
According to an article published on February 13, 2007 by Reuters, from Brazil to Pakistan, some of the poorest children in the world will cross the digital barrier this month thanks to the non-profit project “One Laptop per Child”, of the Technological Institute of Massachusetts, which in February will introduce some 2,500 units of its $ 150 "XO" notebooks (about € 115) in eight developing countries. With these white and lime green laptops, kids can read e-books, digitally record videos, compose music, and chat online with their classmates.
Its technological achievements include a manual crank to recharge the battery, a keyboard that switches languages, a digital video camera, wireless connectivity, and open source Linux software adapted for remote regions. Furthermore, groups of laptops can communicate with each other without an Internet connection, thanks to a pioneering “mesh” network that allows children to exchange images and collaborate on common projects.
This experiment is the prelude to the mass production of laptops, which will take place in July, with the manufacture of five million units. Project managers expect the price of laptops to drop to $ 100 a unit next year, with 50 million machines manufactured, and to continue to drop below $ 100 by 2010, when they expect their laptops reach 150 million children.
According to Walter Bender, president of software and content of the group, his commitment is first and foremost to reduce the price: "Instead of adding new features to maintain the price, we will keep the feature set stable and reduce the price."
Only a pulley with a string will replace the crank. One minute of pulling generates 10 minutes of electricity. Additionally, the screen changes color to black and white for good viewing in direct sunlight, a feature not available on 100 times more expensive laptops.
Teachers from Brazil, Uruguay, Libya, Rwanda, Pakistan, Thailand and possibly Ethiopia and the West Bank, will receive the first machines in February, as part of the pilot phase leading up to a larger shipment to Indonesia and a few other countries.
But not everyone applauds the initiative. Some predict that the project will be nothing more than a financial burden with no guarantees of success for countries that can barely finance it; while, for others, the money should be used to finance food, medicine, libraries and schools. Others worry about the social and economic implications of its implementation.