' Is Budget laptop ($100) a Tight slap to Business? '
In January 2005,during the World Economic Summit there was an announcement to make laptops, at only $100 each, to be distributed to world's needy school children.
Programme - One Laptop per Child:
A non-profit group - known as the One Laptop Per Child, supported by international big wigs like Google, has been sphere heading across the world to distribute this great machine in countries ranging from China, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa as well as India.
Negroponte, the chief of this project , talks about the ambitious project, its relevance to India and the following are the Excerpts:
You had announced about the $100 laptop in Davos this year. Where does the program stand currently, when are you commercializing it, and how have you managed to cut costs so dramatically?
We are not commercializing the $100 Laptop.
NO SALES AND NO MARKETING:
That is one reason the price will be so low. We will have no sales, marketing or distribution costs. Typically, that accounts for 60 per cent of the cost of a laptop. The remainder can be divided in two more or less equal parts, the display and everything else.
In the case of the display, we have reduced the price to about $40. It is a dual-mode display, that is both rear-lit, colour (640x480) and front-lit B&W at 3X that resolution.
This allows it to be readable in sunlight - which is very important. We lower the cost of everything else by running the laptop on Linux.
It is by no means a network computer or dumb terminal.
Fat operating systems spend most of their energy supporting their own fat.
Our machine will be instant on and feel like it is running much faster than your current laptop.
It does not have a disk, but flash memory.
Each machine has 500 MB of flash, which can be shared with wireless broadband, so kids in a classroom can easily have 10 GB among them.
What is the kind of investment that MIT Labs has put in this project?
MIT does not invest in projects.
It has been part of funded research on "learning".
The ideas go back to 1982, when we were working with Apple in rural Senegal.
Recently, we spun off a non-profit Association, called One Laptop per Child.
It sits across the street from the MIT Media Lab and has $24 mn of funding to bring the prototype, its software, and education plus rollout plans to launch.
Who are the main supporters of the project? Who will manufacture the product?
The nine companies supporting OLPC are:
The support we get differs from player to player. Clearly, Quanta plays a significant role and will manufacture the laptop. 3M is helping with the display materials and backlight. Marvell is designing a mesh network chip, and so on.
So will the PC have any hard disk? What kind of storage space do we get in the laptop?
It has three USB (Universal Serial Bus) plugs. There is a $100 server for schools. We have people making a $10 DVD and a $20 hard drive.
But, as I said above, FLASH plus shared FLASH is probably better. Also, remember that each laptop comes with an Internet connection.
India faces serious power problems. And laptops also need power. How do you propose to resolve the issue?
Our laptops will run on human power.
It will come with at least two means of charging: with your arms and your feet (one each, as a minimum). The satellite connection would need a generator, but we would provide that too.
Human power is not dependent on the number of hours, but the ratio of human movement to subsequent run time. I mean that, simply in the worst case, one minute of cranking means 10 minutes of operation. If you use your legs, like a bicycle pump, it skyrockets, perhaps as much as 25 minutes.
Please note that the laptop has many modes, one of which is eBook mode, which uses the least power, but where we need human power the most.
In situations where you are running the processor and backlit display full blast - in what we call DVD mode - the ratios are much worse and electric power or fully-charged batteries are a better approach. We could also do gang charging at school - the idea being that each laptop can have a second battery ($4-6).
In this case, if there's no electricity, there would be a selection of devices, like playground equipment, where kids can charge them during recess or even animals can be used. Solar and wind are also options, of course.
We have found that making a laptop for $100 is easier than making one that runs on 1 watt. Your laptop runs at 30-40 watts.
Conclusions : As a whole , if useful media equipments can be brought down to this affordable stage , the process of poverty eradication has begun. International charity and welfare organizations should unite and do these types of activities in a big way to make global impact immediately.