Now put this same child in a developing country where their lives quickly become more about survival and less about exploration. Maybe one of those children holds the key to solving the world’s water crisis or has the potential to cure malaria. Without education and the tools of imagination, will we ever know they existed?
Nicolas Negroponte, a legend in his own right at MIT, wants to unlock the potential inside the children of the developing world. He proposes to do it with the One Laptop Per Child Program. Along with his team, Negroponte developed a durable, solar powered, kid friendly, Internet connected, software equipped laptop called the OLPC XO. His goal – an XO in the hands of every single child in the developing world.
That’s ambitious considering laptops are expensive pieces of delicate equipment, right?
Wrong. Negroponte and his team found a way to make the laptops for less than $200 each. His original design was nicknamed the $100 computer but the first batch were a little more costly than anticipated. When the project is off the ground and producing in bulk, he envisions scaling back to the $100 price tag. His chief technology officer, Mary Lou Jepson is shooting for a $50 laptop by 2009! Now that’s incredible.
The One Laptop Per Child program has approached the World Bank and several countries about purchasing the computers for their nation’s children. The project is well on its way to fruition.
The little XO tackles many of the technological problems faced in third world countries. The screen is completely readable in harsh sunlight. It’s solar powered and battery operated and draws very little power, less than any other computer ever developed. And, the XO easily transforms into an e-book reader so the child will have access to books from all over the world, not just local sources, which can be scarce.
The XO has been reviewed and tested by several top flight technology magazines and passed the tests with flying colors. It has reporters wishing they could take one home. Negroponte and Jepson say that the kids come first, no retail sales are in the works.
Except…if you go to their website after November 12, 2007 you will be able to buy an XO thanks to the Give One, Get One program. For a limited time, while OLPC is in the launch phase, individuals can buy two laptops for $399. One will be shipped to a child in need and the other to a child in your home. How cool is that? What a great gift for Christmas and a great way to help.
OLPC is also taking donations through their website. This is a worthy program with long reaching humanitarian and technological potential. With a donation, we can say we were part of the revolution from the very beginning.
Read more about the capabilities of the XO and this exciting project at e.week.com and laptop.org.