One Laptop per Child Prototypes

Nicholas Negroponte unveiled a working prototype of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) PC this week, and Dan Farber posted a great update on the project. The OLPC has also been called the $100 PC; however, this is not currently accurate, since the PC will cost $130 – $140 at launch and is not expected to hit the $100 mark until 2008. They plan to launch these Red Hat Fedora Linux-based systems in April of 2007.

These systems are not intended for consumer purchases, but they will be made available working with local governments. Nigeria, Brazil, Thailand, Argentina, China, India, Egypt. Russia, Mexico and Indonesia have all shown interest in these laptops according to Farber.

I admire the goal of getting computers in the hands of every child, and I like Negroponte’s approach of designing the systems with the specific needs of emerging nations in mind. Features like the hand crank for power, screens with good visibility in full sunlight, and rugged form factors to handle rough conditions match the unique needs of these users. I am still a bit skeptical, so I will be curious to see how well these work when they start getting them in the hands of the users. Will they use them? Will these computers create security problems (theft / bodily harm) for the children who receive one? Will these unique features really meet their needs?

I am anxiously waiting to see the results of this project.