Response to Inaccurate Information Recently Posted about OLPC

One Laptop Per Child Association Inc. (“OLPC”) wishes to respond to a recent post in OLPC News that contained several assertions that are contextually inaccurate and may lead to conclusions that are incorrect.

With the recent development of the XO-4 Touch laptop,the XOTablet and its educational “Dreams” User Interface, necessary adjustments in the composition of the OLPC team were required. First, several of the engineers and programmers who specialized in hardware design departed OLPC as their services were no longer required. John Watlington our CTO, remains in charge of finalizing the XO‐4‐Touch laptop. He is also preparing the ground for the next hardware launch. The OLPC Technical team continues to focus on software development, incorporating Sugar into the Android OS, and developing unique apps for the tablet and laptop environment. This team, under the leadership of Andrew McMillan, includes Samuel Greenfeld and a team of developers at Morphoss Ltd., including Heather Buchanan, Chris Noldus, Alexander Nikitin, Samantha Qiao and Tim Evetts.

The OLPC Learning team is under the direction of Doctor Antonio Battro, a colleague of both Jean Piaget and Seymour Papert. Dr. Battro is in charge of leading the philosophical direction of the learning team. He is a distinguished member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, an emblematic institution with more than 40 Nobel Prize recipients in its roster of 90 scientists around the globe. Claudia Urrea remains involved with specific OLPC projects. Moises Salinas Fleitman has joined the Learning group. Bob Hacker also remains committed to OLPC and its mission. Donna Mackenzie has joined OLPC as CFO.Her extensive experience in social media, crowd sourcing, finance, and M&A is of great importance to OLPC at this moment. OLPC is also blessed with the support and contributions of Michele Borba, Educator, TV commentator and consultant to many institutions in the field.

In addition, the XOTablet will be launched on July 16 exclusively at Walmart and soon afterwards at many of the top retailers in the USA, Europe, and in North and South America. With the continued development of new products and content, OLPC maintains its commitment to providing children with an innovative educational experience. OLPC is at its core a social equality movement and a transformer of the existing educational systems. The recent transitions at OLPC permit it to adapt and grow with the demands of the market while adhering to its basic principles.

OLPC is very excited about its current projects in the USA and abroad. OLPC is delivering the first batch of XO-4 Touch machines to Uruguay, in addition to a large order of XOTablets.OLPC has also begun the production of a large order for the government of Rwanda. The feedback from focus groups and educational institutions with respect to OLPC’s new devices, the XO-4 Touch and the XO Tablet, has been extremely positive.

OLPC is aware of certain animosity from top commercial entities and from some individual bloggers that see OLPC as a threat to their existence. In reality, this is something to feel proud about. It is a testament to the strength of OLPC and its mission that it is somehow seen as a threat to bigger entities around the world.OLPC believes that it is the educational equivalent to the World Food Program in its mission to feed the poor. OLPC continues to search for disruptive and creative ways to challenge old beliefs and clichés. OLPC continues to lead the way in innovation and education around the globe. On behalf of OLPC, I thank you for your continued support of our mission.

Rodrigo Arboleda

Chairman and CEO
One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc.

PDF version here.

Designing the XO-4 Touch – Part 3: “Goodies”

Power and battery life

The XO-4 features a powerful dual-core CPU running at 1GHz or 1.2GHz, 1GB or 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 4/8/16GB eMMC storage (and larger in the future). It supports a new battery chemistry (NiMH).

XO-4 – HDMI output to monitor

Video output to connect XOs to monitors and projectors has been a popular request. The XO 4 includes a mini-HDMI output port that can drive HDMI devices as well as traditional VGA displays (with an adapter). All in plug-and-play style.

Older XO models still support USB-to-VGA solutions, and the team intends to expand support for DisplayLink, which is a strong industry standard for USB-to-VGA.

Good things stay the same

In the midst of all these changes, the development team is making sure that all the good things of the XO laptop remain in the XO-4 model.

The child-proof grid membrane keyboard avoids choking hazards and has won the only “Children’s product” USL certification in the industry. The power input allows charging from a wide range of power sources, including power sources that vary their voltage such as solar panels.

The team has been careful to preserve the sunlight-readable screen and long battery lifetime. The microphone input jack still supports connecting humidity and light sensors to use them for science experiments and learning programming.

The laptops still work in hotter and colder environments than others, and still work at higher altitudes too.

For established deployments, it is also important that almost all XO spare parts remain compatible. Existing and new laptops can trade parts and share parts inventory to protect the existing investment and save money. New XO-4 motherboards can be used to repair or upgrade older units at a very modest cost.

A new release of our operating system is planned for early 2013—bringing all the new software versions to existing XO laptops—so environments with a mix of earlier laptops and new XO-4 can have an integrated user experience.

When you open an XO-4, there are lots of things inside—most of them invisible, hiding in the details. Millions of engineering hours, thousands of sleepless nights from the team, making sure this is the right machine for the next generation. For the next few months, the team will still be busy in at the assembly lines, the test labs, pounding keyboards, making sure everything comes together right on time for the start of production.

by: Marting Langhoff

Designing the XO-4 Touch – Part 2: Sugar changes for Touch

The touchscreen hardware is, of course, only as good as its software support. Fortunately, the XO’s Sugar user interface is naturally well suited for touchscreen use, with large, clearly designed icons that users instinctively want to touch.

Sketch of the Sugar interface

Sketch of the Sugar interface

The changes that the team is undertaking to Sugar are simple and subtle, and designed to feel natural to both experienced Sugar users and newcomers.

Icons are moving for better spacing, they are getting enlarged and rearranged to make things work better for touch. The team is adding adding swipe-to-scroll gestures (also known as kinetic scrolling) to show the frame, pinch to zoom and touchscreen-style text selection.

Internally, Sugar has seen a major overhaul that will benefit users of all XOs and unlock modern touchscreen features. This work is intended to provide a solid foundation for the coming years of Sugar development.

The magic in these modern touches relies on heavy engineering, and to perform it OLPC has joined forces with a team from Open Source software consultancy called Lanedo to make Sugar work smoothly with multitouch.

To make the user interface ready for the XO-4′s multitouch capabilities the team has fixed and improved the graphical subsystem (X.org) and the UI toolkit (GTK+)—enhancements include support for gestures and better control over the look-and-feel of the UI, so that icons appear just so on screen.

One of the most exciting features is the new intuitive text selector. Thanks to the newly introduced handles that allow exact positioning, selecting text on the touchscreen now feels like a natural task. The on-screen keyboard is also tightly integrated, preventing applications from taking away the keyboard’s focus when scrolling. Furthermore, several commonly known gestures like zoom, rotate and swipe have been added to the Sugar environment.

A “little” keyboard to go along with Sugar

Sometimes you need to type something in eBook mode, or want to type in a language that is different from the keyboard layout that you have. Sugar now includes an outstanding on-screen-keyboard called “Maliit” (“little” in Tagalog). Just as any other tablet, the XO-4 can be put in eBook mode and still offer the option to open a web browser and type in a URL or a search term.

The team behind Maliit—OpenIsmus—has been working with OLPC to bring this best-of-breed on-screen-keyboard to the XO laptop and to integrate it with user experience. A lot of work goes into making sure that the keyboard appears at the right time, behaves and looks the right way.

This little keyboard opens a window for people working with multiple languages and accessibility. Some multicultural regions need 3 different scripts on the key caps; but only one can be put on the actual keys. Using the on-screen-keyboard, you can type in your language in any XO-4 Touch that you get your hands on.

For users that cannot type easily, but can drive a pointer of any kind, the on-screen-keyboard is an accessibility feature that can be enabled on any XO, even those without touchscreen.

Designing the XO-4 Touch – Behind the scenes with OLPC’s next generation laptop – Part 1: Touchscreen

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.

OLPCA TO RELEASE 3 NEW PRODUCTS AT CES – XO LEARNING SYSTEM DEBUTS AT CES

XO Major Learning Partners Include Sesame Street, MyCityWay, Common Sense Media and Little Pim

VIVITAR, a Sakar Company, is Strategic Partner and First Licensee for XO Tablet in U.S. Market

Vegas, NV- Jan 8,2012 – One Laptop per Child Association (OLPCA), the world- renowned project to provide a modern education to children through a connected
computing device, announced today that it will introduce at CES three new products.
OLPCA will unveil for the first time the XO Learning System, an Android compatible
software suite for child-centric learning, which is available by license to computer
manufacturers, governments, NGOs and content providers such as book publishers.
Tablets under such a license will be called the XO Tablet, the second product announcement. Third, OLPCA will show the fourth generation of its iconic green and
white laptop with both a keyboard and a multi-touch screen using Neonode technology.

Every child has dreams and XO Learning directs the child’s passion, creativity and energy for these dreams into a new user interface that has 12 dreams. Such dreams
include “I want to be” an artist, a musician and a scientist. Each dream features a rich
learning experience and applications, books, games and videos that allow children ages 3 to 12 to naturally explore their dreams and learn at the same time.

“The challenge in computing and education is to use the technology to develop new
ways for children to learn. The rich content of the dreams allows the child’s natural
passion to be directed into learning experiences,” said Giulia D’Amico, the lead designer of XO Learning. OLPCA teamed with the legendary designer Yves Behar of Fuse Project and his team to create the XO Learning user interface and cover.

The content in XO Learning has been curated and selected for age-appropriateness
and learning value by OLPCA, in collaboration with Common Sense Media, the leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping parents and teachers make informed decisions about media. Common Sense Media offers more than 18,000 media ratings and reviews based on both robust educational research and child development guidelines. .XO Learning also offers a full range of parental controls and user IDs for up to three children, a dashboard where the child or the parent can review usage, types of content and the skills the child is developing. Press a single icon and XO Learning switches from English to Spanish with all new content depending on the language. Additional languages will be available in future releases.

XO Learning also offers unique learning experiences from leading partners who support OLPCA’s program to foster child-centric learning. Many international companies share the vision to create learning experiences that unleash a child’s creativity, D’Amico said. In addition to helping to curate the XO Learning content, Common Sense Media has also provided Digital Passport™ an interactive learning environment designed for students in grades 3-5 to teach them how to safely navigate a technology-enhanced world, to the XO Learning platform. Digital Passport™ is already available in classrooms via OLPCA XO laptops in the U.S. and internationally.
Other XO Learning partners include Sesame Street, MyCityWay and Little Pim among
others. OLPCA is currently in negotiations with many other of the world’s leading
companies to provide unique experiences through XO Learning in time for the product
introduction in May 2013.

“OLPCA and Common Sense Media share the same vision of a world in which all kids
have access to the limitless learning opportunities that technology provides,” said Amy
Guggenheim Shenkan, president and COO, Common Sense Media. “By using ratings
and reviews from Common Sense Media to inform XO Learning, OLPCA has created a
product that will point kids towards the highest quality digital media products available, and will go a long way to ensure our kids are well-prepared to grow, thrive, and succeed in the 21st century.”

Sakar International, based in Edison, New Jersey, is the first licensee of XO Learning.
It will offer XO Learning on a 7″ inch Android tablet of its own design. The tablet will
be marketed as the “XO Tablet”. Sakar has the exclusive right to sell the XO Tablet to
leading U.S. retailers for both in-store and online sales.

OLPCA also continues to develop its own line of iconic green and white laptops. At
CES, OLPCA will unveil its fourth-generation system – the XO 4.0 Touch. This touch
screen laptop features:

• Marvell® ARMADA® PXA2128 multicore application processor with hybrid-SMP
technology running at 1 GHz
• Marvell® Avastar® 88W8787 highly integrated SoC
• Neonode touch screen technology with multi-sensing capabilities

The XO 4.0 Touch preserves the dual mode screen, which allows children to use the
laptop in full sunlight as well as in the classroom. The XO 4.0 Touch will also offer the
free educational software, Sugar, which has been featured on all previous versions of
the laptop. Sugar offers over 300 child-centric learning apps and three programming
environments for children.

“We are pleased to be launching XO Learning and the XO Learning Tablet. OLPCA
pioneered the inexpensive netbook for learning, and that concept remains viable today, particularly with the new touch screen version,” said Rodrigo Arboleda, chairman and CEO of OLPCA Association. “The XO 4.0 is still the only laptop that is designed for children. It is reparable by a child with only a screwdriver. It now has the latest Marvell hybrid-core processor and Noenode’s latest touch screen technology.”

About XO Learning

“A learning experience designed to unleash children’s creativity” for 3-12 year olds.
XO Learning believes that tablets offer new ways for technology to provide a child-centric learning environment through the convergence of virtual and physical activities. These experiences are made possible, in part, through app-cessories, sensors and other devices particularly suited to the form factor and user interface of a tablet.
http://www.xo-learning.org

Media Contacts
press@laptop.org
info@xo-learning.org

About Vivitar
Vivitar is a leading provider of photographic, audio and optic devices and related accessories with a rich heritage of technology innovation dating back to 1938. The company celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2013 with an aggressive expansion of its accessory portfolio, including a line of fashion smartphone and tablet accessories as well as co-branded speakers, docks, headphones and earbuds. Vivitar is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey, with additional offices across the United Kingdom, Latin America, Canada and Hong Kong, and retail distribution worldwide.  For more information, visit www.vivitar.com

SPECIFICATIONSVivitar Licensed XO Tablet
Display Size 7.0 inches
Processor 1.6 Ghz dual core
RAM 1 GB
Wi-fi SDIO 802.11 b/g/n
Screen resolution 1024×600 pixels
Free Apps 100 preloaded
Parental Control Built in
Storage 8 GB
Battery 3,800 MA
I/O Micro SD, HDMI, Micro USB, Stereo headset
Front Camera/Rear Camera 1.3 MP 720 HD/2.0 MP

Four new Sugar Activities

Letter Match is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. While far from contructionist, this activity does provide a mechanism for learning the alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are two modes:

  1. see a letter, then click on the corresponding picture

 

 

2. see a picture, then click on the corresponding letter

 

 

 

AEIOU is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. It would, of course, be fun to let the learner add their own pictures and sound recordings. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture

 

 

 

I Know My ABCs is an activity for introducing the Spanish alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture

Finally, a cool app which uses the accelerometer in XO- 4, written by a Google Code-In student:

Level Tool is an activity to check the inclination of a surface with respect to ground.

 

 

 

Lanedo enriches One Laptop per Child’s multitouch experience

Open source experts from Hamburg improve the devices’ software platform. Code will be available under free license to the worldwide community.

Lanedo, Hamburg-based Open Source firm, is proud to announce their contribution to OLPC’s newest device, named XO-4 touch. The 7.5“ convertible notebook, expected in 2013, focuses on multitouch technology as one of its main features.

Lanedo was involved from the very beginning to extend the OLPC sofware platform called Sugar, enhancing the user interface with touch functionality and therefore laying the foundation for future developments. The team not only improved the X.org graphical subsystem with numerous multitouch-related bug fixes, but also extended the respective functionality of the GTK+ toolkit, used for drawing windows, icons and other UI widgets.

Sugar has been a significant diferentiating factor in the worldwide user community for the XO laptop. We appreciate the support of Lanedo to continue the development and enrichment of the Sugar platform, says Rodrigo Arboleda, CEO of OLPC.

One of the most exciting features is the new intuitive text selector, that allows on-screen selection using handles for exact positioning. Furthermore, several commonly known gestures like zoom, rotate and swipe have been added to the Sugar environment, available throughout the system. Lanedo has also contributed to XO-4′s word processor, based on AbiWord, which not only had the same text selector implemented in native code, but also saw improvements in scrolling and other multitouch functions. Likewise, many other bundled applications have been enhanced.

Martyn Russell, one of Lanedo’s founders and managing director, is excited about the work done: Lanedo is proud to have had the opportunity to engage in such a noble project as One Laptop Per Child. It has been a great experience and we are thrilled at the prospect of contributing to the Open Source based platform in the future.

Following the principles of free sofware, developers can take advantage of those new features in their own projects, as all code writen will be made available freely to the benefit of the worldwide community – the GTK+ enhancements have already been incorporated in the 3.6 releases.