MIT to launch $100 laptop prototype in November
The 500-MHz laptop will run a version of Linux
IDG News Service - The MIT Media Laboratory expects to launch a prototype of its $100 laptop in November, according to Nicholas Negroponte, the lab's chairman and co-founder. The facility has been working with industry partners to develop a notebook computer for use by children in primary and secondary education around the world, particularly in developing countries. The laptops should start appearing in volume in late 2006.
"In emerging nations, the issue isn't connectivity," Negroponte said at the Emerging Technologies Conference on MIT's Cambridge, Mass., campus today. "That's not solved, but lots of people are working on it in Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, etc. For education, the roadblock is laptops."
Negroponte and his colleagues believe that equipping children around the world with their own laptops will greatly improve the level of education and help stimulate kids to learn outside of school as well as in the classroom.
The lab expects to unveil a prototype of the $100 laptop at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on Nov. 17, according to Negroponte. The WSIS is due to be held in Tunis, Tunisia, Nov. 16-18. Negroponte showed slides of the prototype at the MIT event.
The 500-MHz laptop will run a "skinny version" of the Linux operating system. It will have a two-mode screen, so it can be viewed in color or, after pushing a button or activating software, in black and white. The latter display can be viewed in bright sunlight at four times normal resolution, according to Negroponte. He estimates that the display will cost around $35.
The laptop can be powered either with an AC adapter or via a wind-up crank, which is stored in the housing of the laptop, where the hinge is located. The laptops will have a 10 to 1 crank rate, so that a child will crank the handle for one minute to get 10 minutes of power and use. When closed, the hinge forms a handle, and the AC cord can function as a carrying strap, according to Negroponte. The laptops will be ruggedized and probably made of rubber, he said. They will have four USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports, be Wi-Fi- and cell phone-enabled and come with 1GB of memory.
Each laptop will act as a node in a mesh peer-to-peer ad hoc network, Negroponte said, meaning that if one laptop is directly accessing the Internet, other machines can share that single online connection when they power on.
The lab will initially target the laptops for use in Brazil, China, Egypt, South Africa and Thailand, according to Negroponte, as well as in Massachusetts,
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