A few months back, I saw a presentation that has kept me thinking ever since. Nicholas Negroponte is currently in the completing phases of a project I think might revolutionize the world. The $100 laptop project, or, as it is known now: One Laptop Per Child (OLTP). The idea behind the One Laptop Per Child project is to create a computer that can be given to every child in developing countries. In order to do this, the computer has several innovations to overcome the limitations of its environment. There is little or no power available, so the computer has to consume dramatically less power than what is common, and it accessories will provide hand power, like a crank or a foot-pedal. Network capabilities will be weak, so the computer has spearheaded innovations within grid wireless networking. The size and ergonomics has to be adapter for children, but the computer will probably also be used as TVs by the whole family.
There are a few interesting sides to this. First: Prices for off-shoring to India have been increasing, and it has been years since the first time I first heard of Indian development sub-contracting with Chinese. India and China will probably have a limited lifespan as source of highly qualified inexpensive labor. But imagine a generation in Africa having grown up with access to good computers and the internet. In ten years, I think that’s where the off-shoring will go. That’s, of course, extremely good news for Africa.
Second, the computer is really cool. It is ultra-portable, Linux based, low-power, super-networked and in-expensive. Rumors are that non-third-worlders can buy one for the price of two – the difference will sponsor the laptop of a third-world child. I can hardly wait until they become available!
Now, to see an inspiring talk and vision, you can watch Nicholas Negroponte’s talk about the One Laptop Per Child project.