New Tablet distro plan: Drop them from helicopters

by David Needle

November 3 2011

OLPC X0-3 tablet concept designs -- sturdy enough to be dropped from a helicopter?
OLPC X0-3 tablet concept designs -- sturdy enough to be dropped from a helicopter?

The founder of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), Nicholas Negroponte, has an aggressive plan to get a new kind of educational tablet distributed to poor kids in third world countries -- drop them from helicopters. He discussed the plans to distribute the OLPC X0-3 tablet, due out next year, at an industry conference Wednesday.

"We will literally take tablets and drop them out of helicopters," and return a year later to see if the effort was a success,” Negroponte said, according a report in PCMag.com which also noted he said that the new tablet design can withstand a 30-foot drop, and even be left out in the rain.

The new tablets will be preloaded with 100 books, and will be able to connect to the Internet wirelessly. Previous tablets have used a peer-to-peer mesh connection to help establish connectivity.

"Adults may be able to steal it, but they won't be able to use it ... maybe an older brother will get a hold of it, use it for pornography - that's life," Negroponte said at Open Mobile Summit. 

This is not the first time the MIT professor has taken on an ambitious challenge. In 2005 Negroponte founded the One Laptop Per Child organization that hoped to deliver tens of millions of $100 laptop computers to the developing world. After a series of delays, the OLPC eventually came out above the $100 price and didn’t reach as broad a distribution as the non-profit had hoped for. Negroponte's said his foundation has delivered about 3 million laptops across 45 countries to date. 

The OLPC  XO-3 will be the third generation in a tablet line first announced in 2009. It’s expected to include an integrated solar panel that would charge the device in areas that don’t have ready access to electricity. 

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