OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte has revealed that the OLPC XO-2 – the dual-touchscreen sequel to the XO-1 – will be released with an open-source hardware design. Describing the approach “as if we were Google”, compared to the first-generation notebook which was “designed as if we were Apple”, Negroponte says that all hardware components – including the dual displays and the touch-sensitive, force-feedback, haptic keyboard – will be available to third-parties to develop.
“One important thing about the XO-2 is that we’re going to do it as an open source hardware programme. The XO-1 was really designed as if we were Apple. The XO-2 will be designed as if we were Google – we’ll want people to copy it. We’ll make the constituent parts available. We’ll try and get it out there using the exact opposite approach that we did with the XO-1. We had to do the XO this way because everybody said it couldn’t be done. We purposely designed a special-purpose, award-winning museum of modern art piece. The next one will be different: everything from the dual display to the touch-sensitive, force-feedback, haptic keyboard will be available” Nicholas Negroponte
What’s less clear is whether the OLPC project’s new approach will result in a simple reference design – therefore leaving production models up to third-party manufacturers – or if they’re planning their own hardware release. If the former, it could delay the arrival of the XO-2 as OEMs examine the open-source hardware specs and develop their own machines.
Negroponte also confirmed the $75 target price for the XO-2, explaining that the focus of the new machine will be books. “Suddenly a village can have 10,000 books,” he explained, “which is more than we had in school.”