India’s tantalizing tablet

As noted here last week, India’s Human Resource Development Minister Sibal announced an interest in distributing a $35 touchscreen tablet to students across India.  Charbax demonstrated the reference design used is likely from AllGo Embedded Systems, which recently displayed a matching ARM device.

While Fast Company, Wired, (and later All Things Considered) have responded  skeptically to the proposed cost, let’s assum that one day we will be able to make such tablets, just as we now have $100 laptops. (I don’t think they are far off – we likewise think we can have a more powerful, rugged tablet for twice that cost by the following year.)  What I want to know is: will the government invest in a national deployment, in providing equal access to rich and poor, and in the connectivity infrastructure needed to make this a truly empowering shift?

Some of the statements made suggest the government are considering a nation-wide 50% subsidy and promotion across over 5,000 schools. That’s a fantastic start — I hope their interest persists long enough to start such a project in earnest.

Update: We would be glad to share any of our tech and experience with an India project to help their vision succeed. Nicholas published an open letter to the Ministry inviting them to Cambridge.

Team One Beep – radio software gets data to remote areas

Here’s some research into long distance data transfer over radio frequency, from university students in Auckland New Zealand, that could be applied to future OLPC deployments.  They are currently preparing to compete in the final international round of the Microsoft Imagine Cup, which will take place in Warsaw July 3-9.

Team One Beep, made up of fourth year undergraduates Vinny Jeet, Steve Ward, Kayo Lakadia and Chanyeol Yoo, worked through the summer break to prove their idea could work. Their proposal was to send streams of data across the readily available FM/AM frequencies to impoverished communities.

Their project addresses a common problem encountered by the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) charity. The charity makes education more available to third world countries by delivering low cost laptops to remote and poor communities. They have distributed 1.2 million laptops already, and the number is growing. However a lack of infrastructure, such as broadband or even telephone lines, makes it nearly impossible to update the educational materials on the laptops.

Read the full article here.

Team One Beep intend running field trials in Australia and the Pacific Islands. Solomon Island OLPC deployment has made contact and is interested in collaborating with Team One Beep.