Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Hand-Cranked Laptop

From Treehugger, a report on an emerging development out of the MIT Media Lab: a $100 laptop computer that can be powered by a hand crank. Designer Nicholas Negroponte has bigger ideas than simply offering this as a consumer product:
Negroponte, the co-founder of the Lab, said MIT and his non-profit, One Laptop Per Child, is in discussions with five countries -- Brazil, China, Thailand, Egypt and South Africa -- to distribute up to 15 million test systems to children. The idea is that governments will pay roughly $100 US for each laptop, and distribute them for free. The laptops will largely be powered by a side-mounted hand-crank, and can be juiced up with convential electric current or batteries, when they're available. The proposed design of the machines calls for a 500MHz processor, 1GB of memory and an innovative dual-mode display that can be used in full-color mode, or in a black-and-white sunlight-readable mode. One display design being considered would also consume unconventionally low amounts of power and money; Negroponte said the technology can be used to produce displays that cost roughly 10 cents per square inch
Additionally, these laptops are wi-fi and cell phone enabled. While this is a very cool green development (Negroponte is shooting "near-zero power consumption" displays), the idea of providing such technology to children in poverty-stricken nations is truly revolutionary. Imagine being able to read blogs by these kids rather than counting on Sally Struthers commercials for infomation about third-world poverty...

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