One Laptop Per Child has been supplying XO laptops to primary-age kids in the developing world since 2006 and there are over 3 million XOs in active use today. The technology has been thoroughly tested in a wide range of classrooms, from schools with no walls, (let alone electricity or books), to those better equipped with tools for learning. Today the project takes a giant leap forward with the unveiling of a low-cost touchscreen tablet called the XO-3. Quite apart from its impressive technical specs (more about them later), the XO-3 represents the next phase of the OLPC project.
Kids in the developed world have made the leap from playing games on their Mum and Dad's iPads to using them in school, whilst their brothers and sisters in less privileged classrooms are saddled with ancient Windows-based machines; power hungry, difficult to repair and built on a closed operating system. Sugar Labs revolutionised this model while still being tied to the laptop form factor. All over Africa, people went straight from no phones to cellphones, leapfrogging the fixed-line era completely, and in the same way the XO-3 shows that access to intuitive touch screens and gestural interfaces doesn't have to be the exclusive preserve of the rich world.
One of the challenges in providing access to learning via computers is that technology moves so fast. Acquire the behavioural attitudes and mental models of laptop computers, and before you know it the rest of the world has moved on. You're trapped in a dying technological paradigm.
The XO-3 addresses this squarely with a a 1024×768 Pixel Qi screen, half a gig of RAM, and a Marvell Armada PXA618 chip. There's an amazing solar-panel protective cover, all the usual ports, and some new software. All these new features help OLPC pursue its original mission via a solid, low cost, connected tablet. The XO-3 is planned to enter production at the end of this year.
One Laptop Per Child has equipped almost 3 million children worldwide in more than 45 countries.
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