Wednesday, May 21, 2008

XO 2 - OLPC Second Generation Laptop

Nicholas Negrponte unveiled the design of the next laptop computer that will be the future sub $100 computer designed to bring affordable computers to developing countries. With it's first computer, the project did not quite achieve its goal of developing a computer that could be produced for under $100, but they have at least made significant progress. As part of the process they designed a laptop computer that completely rethought the engineering of the typical laptop, and produced a computer that is far more energy efficient, robust and usable in more difficult lighting conditions. The innovation that they brought will no doubt impact not only on the children it is intended for, but will surely have implications on the laptop industry as a whole.

Based on the learnings made so far, the One Lap Top Per Child project have decided to take a different approach for their next computer. This time they are not 'improving' an existing product, they are inventing a completely new one. The device is half the size of the original, and consists of two flat panel screens. Looking like a digital book, the device can be used in a variety of ways; Held vertically like a book; Placed flat like a tablet; Or like a traditional laptop, where the lower touch sensitive screen can be used as a keyboard. The device will naturally benefit from advances in new technology and the inevitable lowering of production costs, so that the device will be able to be produced for $75 (or at least closer to the original psychologically important price point of $100).

Also to note is the repeat of the chance to get your hands on the original computer, by buying two and having the second donated to a child in a developing country. This is due to launch in August. I am not going to let that opportunity pass by, as this computer is not only cheap and useful, and would make a great computer for my son, but it will surely go down in computer history.

Interestingly, being a not for profit programme, they have taken the 'un Applelike' approach of revealing the design, two years ahead of production, with the aim that people actively adopt the thinking of their device. Therefor, the project and the public as a whole will benefit for development in this type of devise, ensuring a further reaching improvement than if they had been secretive. This is pretty revolutionary thinking, but I have another theory...As we all wait for Apple to launch their latest version of the iPhone, there are also rumors that they will also be introducing a new portable web device. I would not be surprised to find out that their devise is not dissimilar to this one. Maybe OLPC wanted to trump Apple?