Remember the so-called “$10 laptop” project the Indian government was spearheading early last year, that turned out to be a basic standalone storage brick? Something similar this way comes, in the shape of the Humane Reader: a low-cost 8-bit display device that uses your TV as a display and cheap PS/2 peripherals, it can store around five thousand texts – including local Wikipedia mirrors – but costs just $20.
The handiwork of Human Informatics, the Reader is designed for homes and schools that have no budget for PCs and no internet connection for downloading content. It’s built using three Atmega328p microcontrollers complete with an SD card reader and microUSB port; display output is via a composite video port. There’s also infrared support, audio and four hardware buttons.
Interestingly, the expansion headers are compatible with Arduino shields, opening up various avenues of flexibility. No sales availability as yet – Human Informatics are looking for a partner to help them commercialize – but the estimate is that in bulk they could get the price down to just $15 per unit.