Friday, May 30, 2008

Nicholas Negroponte: The vision behind One Laptop Per Child

A pioneer in the field of computer-aided design, Negroponte is perhaps best known for founding and directing MIT's Media Lab, which helped drive the multimedia revolution and now houses more than 500 researchers and staff. An original investor in WIRED (and the magazine’s "patron saint"), for five years he penned a column exploring the frontiers of technology -- ideas that he expanded into his 1995 best-selling book Being Digital. An angel investor extraordinaire, he's funded more than 40 startups, and served on the boards of companies such as Motorola and Ambient Devices.

But his latest effort, the One Laptop Per Child project, may prove his most ambitious. The organization is manufacturing the XO (the "$100 laptop"), a wireless Internet-enabled, pedal-powered computer costing roughly $100. Negroponte hopes to put the first devices in the hands of the children in the developing world by the end of 2007, expanding to millions more by 2010 (see XOGiving for details on how you can help -- and get an XO for yourself).

"If Nicholas Negroponte can achieve his ambition of distributing $100 laptops to the world's disadvantaged children, he will help redefine philanthropy and see his name added to a list alongside the likes of Carnegie, Ford and Rockefeller."
Technology Review

One Laptop per Child designer Yves Behar (watch his TEDTalk) shares exciting news about the top-to-bottom redesign of the XO laptop -- sometimes called the "$100 laptop." He writes:

With the XO (1.0), we pushed the boundaries of what a laptop could be by lowering the cost dramatically, being green (no heavy metals, lowest energy consumption ever), and a human-driven unique design approach.

Now, with XOXO (2.0), we are challenging what a truly collaborative and creative computing experience could be ... a true departure from the traditional keyboard and screen layout, a new way to interface and play with data, information and communication:

- imagine if your learning machine was an un-interrupted screen one could interface with from any direction
- imagine if it was a reading experience just like a book, and at the same time a seamless large visual tablet
- imagine if children could play board games sitting across from each other (or computer games).

The XOXO is a book, a tablet, a board...and yes, a laptop too if that is what you need. The design is still green and white, but thin, simple, and un-interrupted by keyboards, buttons, speaker holes, input devices and visible connectors. And it is soft to the touch, like a piece of luggage, everyday luggage you can take anywhere.

Planned for early 2010, the XOXO should be the next learning object of desire, from Bogota, to Istanbul, to New York.

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