The next iteration of the XO will finally have a fully armed and operational tablet mode, thanks to an optical touchscreen from Neonode.
This week we signed a licensing agreement with them to embed their optical touchscreens into future ‘XO Touch’ laptops. The XO Touch will be a true laptop + tablet, with the same 7.5” sunlight-readable display, and Neonode’s fast-scanning multitouch. There are a lot of applications I have in mind for those prototypes…
Neonode are energy-conscious, thanks to their history of work with mobile devices, and have features such as gesture-activated wakeup that will help the XO remain the lowest-power laptop around. Neonode is also proud of their screen’s low-latency pen or brush sensors, and ability to sense proximity, pressure, and depth and measure object-size.
Leaders of both projects commented on the partnership:
Thomas Eriksson, Neonode CEO:
“We are honored to be collaborating with OLPC to produce the XO Touch, a truly pioneering and sustainable device that shows the broad versatility of our technology. This market entry confirms that our MultiSensing technology makes it possible to create a top class product that is both affordable and extremely energy saving and still has a user interface that is radical enough to satisfy the uncompromising demands of knowledge- and entertainment-thirsty children. Our company philosophy is to contribute to a better and happier world, and we have the opportunity to do so by supporting OLPC’s mission.”
Rodrigo Arboleda, OLPCA CEO:
“OLPC is proud to partner with an organization that shares its appreciation for innovative and transformative technology. Neonode’s expertise in engineering and design will turn the XO Touch, which combines the best features of laptop and tablet, into a next-level innovative machine.”
The XO-1.75 prototypes are currently under development, and the laptops will enter mass production this summer. Some touchscreen prototypes are being made as well, but the primary model will not have touch. Thanks to Armada 610 ARM processors and improved Pixel Qi screens, the 1.75 will draw roughly half the power of the 1.5, while keeping roughly the same form factor and most of the existing industrial design.
These will be our first models with ARM chips, which we plan to use in our tablet designs later this year. The 1.75 should be roughly $20 cheaper to manufacture, than the 1.5, but the real drop in cost will come for rural deployments, as a result of the lessened power requirements. Not quite in the human-powerable range yet, but getting there.
The XO-3 will have a larger 9.7″ screen when it comes out in 2012, and will shave off another significant fraction of power – up to another full Watt.
I spoke yesterday about the olpc use case of rural and offline schools (you can find my slides online on the OLPC wiki), where bookreaders and the books they can find are often all that students have in the way of a regional library. Others in the audience added that there is also often no historical division between receiving stories and creating your own, or a tradition of ‘received knowledge’ that publishers have decided is worth distributing.
A few wonderful bits of news: the Internet Archive’s bookreader, which is one of the best browser-based readers around, now works with touchscreen input (NTS: get them a 1.75 model once they’re available!; some of their sliders are too small/close to the screen edges for the XO bezel). Mary Lou brought a new Pixel Qi screen with her from Taiwan (she and John will both be @ SFSU tomorrow). And a lot of people in attendance (including many people who are building the next gen of bookreader) are working on one of the core ideas of modern collaboration — that everyone is both reader and author at different times.
My favorite quote from the event so far: “Before the writer was ‘author’, before the invention of [literary] ‘genius’, artists simply transmitted culture that preexisted: spongs, dances, text, stories, poems that didn’t ‘belong’ to anyone. And their skill was the skill to transmit, not of invention, and attributable to a [muse], not to personal genius.”
I hope to see some of you tonight at 5pm at the opening party for the community summit!
Toshiba is testing my favorite laptop design, a dual-touchscreen model: the Libretto W100. It will be available to the public in a ‘limited run’ later this year, for around $1,100, and will sport a pair of 7″ touchscreens. They say the laptop will run Windows 7 and offer a variety of keyboards for the ‘bottom’ screen.
It’s good to see this design get out there and effort put into software for it — we will eventually move away from static keyboards altogether, and I would love to see it happen in this decade.