The next generation XO laptop is due to go into production in 2013, offering the first
touchscreen ever provided by One Laptop per Child. In this article, the OLPC development team provides a behind-the-scenes look at the new laptop, revealing what features will be entirely new, and what good things will be preserved.
Two models are in development: the XO-4 Laptop, and the XO-4 Touch, a convertible laptop with a touchscreen. The XO-4 Laptop follows the tradition of the XO-1.75, the current OLPC laptop, but upgrades the processor and memory, can handle a longer-life battery, and adds a mini-HDMI port to allow easy connection to monitors and projectors.
The XO-4 Touch is all that plus a child-friendly touchscreen that improves on the existing display, keeping sun-readability and ease-of-repair. Both models can be requested with grid membrane keyboard or mechanical keyboard, which the development team calls “chewy” and “crunchy”.
Touchscreens in the sun
Over the last few years, the development team has spent an enormous amount of time looking at touchscreen technology. It was a serious challenge to find a solution that would work well for OLPC devices, keeping repairs simple, sun readability, drop and general child-resistance and low cost.
They found the answer in Neonode’s zForce. It is an infrared-based touch implementation that works without adding a new layer of glass in front of the existing Pixel Qi screen, keeping sun-readability intact.
This approach avoids all the costs and complications in capacitive glass touchscreens. One of the complications is reparability—capacitive touchscreens are glued and nearly impossible to replace or repair. The zForce IR touchscreen can be easily replaced and repaired. zForce is also power-efficient—Neonode has worked hard to ensure that the power consumption is so small that it does not impact battery life.
All touchscreens technologies are sensitive to dust and dirt to some degree. Neonode’s zForce technology is especially good at handling wet and sweaty fingers, which confuse other touchscreens and touchpads.
Nobody else today delivers a touchscreen that is childproof, repairable and sun-readable.