The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project had a laudable goal, but unfortunately those plans materialized in very different, and sometimes disappointing, ways. But for all their failures, you have to give them props for never knowing when or how to give up. Now OLPC’s Australian partner One Education is said to have a new XO device ready to be unveiled in a few weeks and it is probably more ambitious than ever. Not only will it be a tablet/laptop hybrid, it will also be a modular one.
You could be forgiven if you have forgotten or don’t even know about OLPC and the XO laptops and tablets. It has been almost a decade since the project launched to give an extremely cheap, rugged, and child friendly laptop to children in developing countries. The end result of the first attempt, however, was a laptop that was twice the price and half the power. That didn’t stop OLPC from iterating over the idea all the way up to the current XO Tablet form.
If third time’s a charm how about the fourth or fifth? The new XO-Infinity device, at least based on the official website itself, is a convertible tablet. Now, this form factor isn’t exactly new, as the likes of ASUS have popularized it. Even Intel has one that’s also education-oriented. But if the XO-Infinity does manage to get out the door, it will be one of the first, if not one of the very few, that will be marketed in such a kid-friendly, rugged design with a kid-friendly price tag attached.
But perhaps more interesting than the form factor is the discovery that it might be a modular laptop. Now don’t go dreaming of Project Ara for laptops yet. The modules here are limited to at least four, maybe five, components: CPU (and maybe RAM), Battery, WiFi, and camera, perhaps with a module for the screen. These are probably not meant to be replaced with random modules of different functionalities. The theory is that OLPC can offer a “base”, perhaps one with very little components, at an extremely low price and offer higher parts separately as addons. If true, this is a rather crafty strategy to keep that $100 laptop promise while not exactly forcing them to used gimped hardware.
One Education reveals that the XO-Infinity is due in the next week or two, so we don’t have too long to wait to see this come to fruition. But before you go getting too excited, do remember OLPC’s track record (or lack of it) and that these products are marketed for children in developing countries and with education in mind.
SOURCE: The Digital Reader