Home » Cloud client SW platforms » Marvell® ARMADA® PXA168 based XO laptops and tablets from OLPC with $185 and target $100 list prices respectively

Marvell® ARMADA® PXA168 based XO laptops and tablets from OLPC with $185 and target $100 list prices respectively

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Core information:

CES: One Laptop Per Child – The New XO v3.0 [Jan 11, 2012]

The new OLPC XO v3.0 laptop is unveiled at CES 2012. Demoing at the Marvell booth (the company that developed the processor found on board the XO) Giulia D’Amico, Director of Business Development [at One Laptop per Child], talks about some of the features found on the new device. 

Related information: Marvell’s SMILE Plug for the “Classroom 3.0” initiative [Feb 1, 2012]

One Laptop Per Child XO-3 [Yves Behar’s fuseproject news blog, Jan 9, 2012]

6 years of design development with Nicholas Negroponte and the non-profit organization he founded, One Laptop Per Child, has led to the next generation XO-3 tablet. More than 2.4 million children in 25 countries received the original XO Laptop, and these kids have been our inspiration to create the next generation of this educational tool.

One Laptop Per Child is a technology story about how to provide low-cost educational tools to millions of children. For those children, and for us, it is also a creative story about how to design specifically for young students. Every decision made by the OLPC engineering team and the design team at fuseproject has been about adapting technology to children’s needs at a cost that makes the tablet affordable for developing countries.

The first impression of the XO-3 is its extreme simplicity. The focus is on the screen, while the surrounding green rubber border provides a safe tactile grip for children’s hands. The back surface has a bumpy texture and integrates a rear-facing camera. The connectors, power switch and speakers are arranged on the bottom edge, facing the user. Our approach has been to minimize complexity, while delivering a high quality, and a heightened touch feel. There is playfulness in the way one can adapt the cover to different needs, while each design detail and material is chosen to deliver maximum value.

Fuseproject Unwraps The Third-Gen One Laptop Per Child: A $100 Tablet [Fastcompany’s Co.Design blog, Jan 10, 2012] 

With the XO-3, OLPC unveils a design that will allow it to be customized for myriad markets.

Let’s get this out of the way. The OLPC XO-3, the $100 tablet addition to the One Laptop Per Child family, newly launched at CES 2012, is much thicker than the concept tablet, which they showed in 2009. Plus, it’s missing the ring!

The original XO-3 concept, featuring a slimmer design and that lovely ring.

See the earlier information on this blog here: Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [Nov 4, 2010 – July 20, 2011]

“They’re still the ultimate goal,” says Yves Béhar, founder of fuseproject and OLPC Chief Designer. The key component that enables the thinness of the concept tablet is flexible color e-paper, and that has been slow to come to market. When it does, the OLPC team anticipates that the robustness and low power consumption will make for an ideal very thin and lightweight tablet.

Testing and getting back reports of usage on the ground is a core part of the OLPC design process. From their previous experience, they knew localization would be key for this product. For instance, one of the benefits of a tablet form factor is that keyboards and other interfaces are entirely done in software, so it’s easy to swap them out for different languages and milieus. Easier than doing it in hardware, anyway.

There is localization in the hardware as well. This is localization not for language but for the infrastructural conditions of the places where the tablets will be used. Every XO-3 comes with a removable cover. “The cover is the multiple personality side of the tablet,” says Béhar. They can be simple passive protection, but depending on the needs of a particular locale, other capabilities can be built in.

For example, one version of the cover comes with a solar panel on the inside along with a thin battery. When you are in school, using the machine, you can leave the cover out in the sun to power the battery. When you put the cover back over the tablet, the battery connects and recharges the machine. Béhar says they are also working on a version of the cover with antenna that will enable the tablet to communicate with satellites. There are more accessories to come. “We learned a lot with the original OLPC XO,” says Béhar.

Marvell and One Laptop per Child Unveil the XO 3.0 Tablet at CES
Also: The first Marvell ARMADA powered XO 1.75 laptop will begin shipping in March to school children in Uruguay and Nicaragua [Marvell press release, Jan 8, 2012]

Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL), a worldwide leader in integrated silicon solutions, and One Laptop per Child, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help every child in the world gain access to a modern education, demonstrated a fully functional version of the much-anticipated XO 3.0 – a low-cost, low-power, rugged tablet computer designed for classrooms around the globe – at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show.

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image“We’re proud to introduce the XO 3.0 tablet, showcasing the design, durability and performance features that make it a natural successor for our current laptops, which have been distributed to more than 2.4 million children in 42 countries and in 25 languages,” said Edward McNierney, Chief Technology Officer of One Laptop per Child. “The XO 3.0 builds on many of the technology breakthroughs we made with the XO 1.75, including the use of the Marvell® ARMADA® PXA618 processor, resulting in a significant decrease in power consumption–a critical issue for students in the developing world.”

image“Marvell is committed to improving education–and the human condition–around the world through innovative technology for Smartphones, tablets and a myriad of new cloud-delivered services. Partnering with One Laptop Per Child is one way we can deliver a revolution where it matters most–to benefit children in some of the poorest places on the planet,” said Tom Hayes, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. and a member of the OLPC advisory board. “Marvell has been with One Laptop per Child from the start and we’re doing whatever it takes to help the organization realize its mission of providing meaningful educational opportunities to the 500 million school-aged children around the world.”

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Marvell and One Laptop per Child also announced today that the XO 1.75 laptop will begin shipping to customers in March 2012. Over 75,000 units of the XO 1.75 have already been ordered by OLPC projects in Uruguay and Nicaragua. The XO 1.75 uses the Marvell ARM-based ARMADA PXA618 SOC processor, which compared to the earlier XO 1.5, maintains performance while using only half the power. The XO 1.75 features a sunlight-readable screen and all the other features and design characteristics of the two previous versions of the XO laptop.

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The XO 3.0 tablet will also feature the Marvell ARMADA PXA618 SOC processor and Avastar Wi-Fi SOC. Other features include:

  • Unique charging circuitry; the XO 3.0 is the only tablet that can be charged directly by solar panels [see that above as built into the internal side of the protecting cover], hand cranks and other alternative power sources
  • Standard or [a somewhat more expensive] Pixel Qi sunlight-readable display
  • Android and Linux operating system support

A First Look at the new XO 3.0 tablet from One Laptop Per Child [Jan 10, 2012]

A Look At OLPC’s XO 3.0 Tablet’s Solar And Kinetic Chargers [Forbes, Jan 8, 2012]

Due to the simplicity of the model, McNierney expects to see a lot of interest in the solar cover. Since the panel produces 4 watts of energy and the tablet uses 2 watts, one hour of solar charging should enable 2 hours of tablet run-time.

The hand crank charger is more experimental. Like the solar cover, it is separate from the core tablet but connects via a port. It also hearkens back to the first concept designs for OLPC which had built-in hand cranks on their sides. That feature was eventually dropped for structural weakness reasons.

That history may make OLPC customers leery of the new hand cranks. McNierney acknowledged that most customers may bypass the hand cranks but he insisted they are usable. (Six minutes of hand-cranking should produce an hour of run-time.) To test the feature, the organization took out the tablet batteries to see whether the devices could run just by hand crank. The test worked, said McNierney. “If something can generate DC power, we can use it,” he added.

OLPC isn’t specifying which energy source customers need to use. McNierney pointed out that different countries will have their own preferences, based on culture, climate or other factors.

This effort goes back quite a time: Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [a collection of information on this blog, Nov 4, 2010 – July 20, 2011]

One Laptop Gets $5.6M Grant From Marvell to Develop Next Generation Tablet Computer [Xconomy, Oct 4, 2010] [see that as built into the internal side of the protecting cover]

The One Laptop per Child Foundation and Santa Clara, CA-based semiconductor maker Marvell have cemented a partnership announced last spring, with Marvell agreeing to provide OLPC with $5.6 million to fund development of its next generation tablet computer, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte tells me. Negroponte says the deal, signed in the past week or so but not previously announced, runs through 2011.

“Their money is a grant to the OLPC Foundation to develop a tablet or tablets based on their chip,” he says. “They’re going to put the whole system on a chip.”

One Laptop per Child and Marvell Join Forces to Redefine Tablet Computing for Students Around the World [Marvell press release, May 27, 2010]
Marvell Joins ‘One Laptop Per Child’ Initiative [Marvell press release, May 8, 2006]

OLPC XO-1.75 Costs $185 and Starts Shipping in March [OLPC News, Jan 7, 2012]


With regard to the price I confirmed with OLPC Association’s CFO Bob Hacker that the XO-1.75’s list price will be $185. As with the XO-1 and XO-1.5 the exact price depends on a number of variables such as the specific hardware configuration (RAM and NAND flash for mass storage) and other details.

An interesting detail here is that it seems like Uruguay decided to go for 8GB of NAND flash for mass storage while Nicaragua opted for 4GB.

XO-1.75, XO-3, Nell? – What Will OLPC Show at CES 2012 Next Week? [OLPC News, Jan 8, 2012]

The XO-1.75 looks identical to the XO-1 and XO-1.5 from the outside yet its hardware guts are quite different as OLPC switched from an x86 architecture to an ARM platform. I had previously expressed doubts whether this move would really led to a much improved battery life. However reading an e-mail that Richard Smith (OLPC Foundation’s Director of Embedded Engineering) sent out in November it seems like my guesstimates where quite off as he mentions feeling…

“…safe in saying that regardless of what you do on the 1.75 you are going to get 3.5 hours of battery life. Period.”

Additionally he wrote:

An interesting data point is that the 1.75 is the first laptop of the XO series that has ran 100% from a solar panel for an extended period. During my solar testing I often swap in different batteries. The 1.75 can consistently survive battery removal under moderate solar conditions when connected to the OLPC 10W solar panel.

Aside of these promising power characteristics the XO-1.75 also includes a three-axis accelerometer which people like Bert Freudenberg and Saadia Husain Baloch have already used for some cool things such as this little eToys project or an “etch-a-sketch” program in Turtle Art.

XO-1.75 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 12, 2011]

The XO-1.75 laptop is a refresh of the XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops. In our continued effort to maintain a low price point, OLPC is again refreshing the hardware to take advantage of the latest component technologies. This design, while separate from the XO-3 tablet effort, uses the same very low power electrical design. It continues to use the same industrial design and batteries as XO-1. The design goal is to provide an overall update of the system within the same industrial design and external appearance. Overall, the target was to greatly improve the power consumption while reducing the purchase cost.

XO-1.75 machines will ship with a new software release based on Fedora 14, including both Sugar and GNOMEsoftware.

Specifications

Block Diagram

Software

XO 1.75 C1 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 5, 2011]

XO-1.75 Laptop C test model 1, also known as C1.

The C1 are the last prototypes of the XO-1.75 built. Electrically, these are very similar to the B1 prototypes. A small number were made in September, 2011, for final testing.

These are the first XO-1.75 laptops marked as such. XO-1 laptops have a smooth hinge cover, and XO-1.5 laptops have three small raised dots inline on each side of the hinge cover. XO-1.75 laptops have seven small raised dots on the hinge cover, arranged in two rows.

While three version of C1 were built (SKUs 200, 201, and 202), testing out various alternate component suppliers, from a software and functionality point of view all versions should be identical. Unlike the B1 prototypes, all C1 laptops provide SDRAM for the DCON.

Photographs:

If you disassemble the laptop (instructions), you will see:

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The XO-3 tablet debuts at CES [the official OLPC blog, Jan 7, 2012]

Our XO-3 prototype is debuting at CES this weekend, and will be shown off next week at the Marvell booth. …

If you are heading to CES, you can stop by and see it yourself! Ping Giulia to set up an appointment, or drop by the Marvell booth. Charbax of olpc.tvwill be on site as always, recording some video and interviews.

The XO-3 will sport a 1024×768 Pixel Qi screen, half-gig of RAM, and a Marvell Armada PXA618 chip. Some of the soft cover designs proposed so far include a built-in solar panel. More updates coming over the next week; for now, here is our CES press release.

The XO-3 is still planned to enter production at the end of this year.

[debuting at CES >>>] The $100 OLPC Tablet Is Really Real [Gizmodo, Jan 7, 2012]

Building on its success with laptops designed for developing countries, the One Laptop Per Child project is set to unveil a long-awaited tablet at CES next week. Here’s what you get for $100.

The OLPC has been kicking around the idea of a super-affordable tablet for over a year. Originally known as the XO-3, but now dubbed the XO 3.0, the tablet will feature an 8-inch 1024×768 screen with some models also offering a PixelQi 3qi display that mimics E-paper. A Marvell Armada PXA618 chip and 512MB of RAM reside in the tablet’s ruggedized shell and will run either Linux Sugar or Android OS.

With a bare-bones feature set, the OLPC tablet should cost about $100 per unit—up from the original estimated price of $75, but still way cheaper than virtually any other tablet on the market.

The coolest feature that the XO 3.0 can be powered by hand-cranking—to the tune of 10 minutes of run time for every minute of work. Why isn’t this available on, well, everything? I’d gladly spin a handle for a few minutes if it meant I wouldn’t have to beg for outlet time at coffee shops, carry spare chargers, and constantly dread the “low battery” notification. [Electronista]

XO 3 A1 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 12, 2011]

XO-3 Tablet Alpha test model, also known as A-test or A1.

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The A1 was the first prototype of the XO-3built. The bring up happened in early December 2011.

The number of boards obtained was small, and distribution was limited to demonstrations, hardware testing, and UI development. Much of the software development is being done on XO-1.75 laptops, due to the similarities.

  • Bare circuit board, no case or display
  • Rev. A motherboard

Photographs:

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Please understand that this motherboard is still in the process of slimming down, and despite being less than half the area of an XO-1.75 motherboard, will continue to get smaller in coming months. We also intend to restore an internal SD slot, allowing for storage expansion and repair of motherboards with failed eMMC devices. –wad

Marvell ARMADA 618 Application Processor
1GHz, 1080p Encode/Decode, 16MP ISP, 45 MTPS 3D, Security Enabled
[Marvell product brief, May 3, 2010]

PRODUCT OVERVIEW

The ARMADA™ 618 processor is Marvell®’s latest application processor targeted for next generation, high-definition (HD)-capable smartphones. Featuring a gigahertz-class CPU, integrated full HD 1080p encode and decode, an integrated ISP capable of 16MP image capture, an integrated audio processing engine for extremely low power audio playback and exceptional high quality sound and advanced 3D graphics, the ARMADA 618 consumes extremely low power, while maintaining high processing performance at attractive price points. This allows manufacturers to deliver high-performing features in lightweight form factors, with the extended battery life that consumers look for in their smartphones.

The ARMADA 618 is based on a 1GHz Marvell-designed ARM v7-compatible CPU offering best-in-class performance. An integrated 3D engine renders 45M triangles-per-second for an immersive gameplay experience, via a complete floating point pipeline and unified vertex and fragment/pixel shading, to generate contrast-rich scenes in high definition resolution and color, ensuring complete compatibility with the most hotly anticipated mobile game titles.

With respect to video, the ARMADA 618 features Marvell’s award-winning Qdeo™ technology with an integrated video accelerator that can seamlessly encode and decode h.264 High Profile 1080p video at 30fps. In addition, the ARMADA 618 incorporates a complete Image Signal Processor which can capture high resolution color pictures as well as stream 1080p video at 30fps. This enables smartphones to access the latest HD content from the web, record and playback HD videos and capture high quality images previously only seen in SLR-class cameras.

The ARMADA 618 offers support for high performance LPDDR memory, a highly flexible display controller capable of four simultaneous displays at up to 2K x 2K resolution and a highly robust security subsystem that includes a secure execution processor. The ARMADA 618 also features support for the next generation of peripheral interfaces, through support for MIPI DSI display, MIPI CSI camera, MIPI HSI and MIPI SLIMbus. Additional peripheral interfaces supported include USB 2.0 HSIC, SD/SDIO/MMC, eMMC, HDMI w/PHY and a standard set of lower bandwidth peripherals. Legacy peripherals such as Parallel LCD and Parallel Camera interfaces are also supported. The ARMADA 618 offers optimized OS support for Linux, Android™, Windows Mobile and Flash® 10, as well as industry standard APIs. Available in both a 12x12mm POP and a 12x12mm Discrete package, ARMADA 618 customers will have one of the broadest, most flexible choices of platform in the industry to create truly innovative and marketable products.

BLOCK DIAGRAM

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Fig 1. Marvell ARMADA 618 Application Processor

APPLICATIONS

The Marvell ARMADA 618 platform offers customers a development platform for creating ARMADA 618 based smartphones. The platform incorporates the ARMADA 618 processor, the Marvell Avastar™ 88W8787 for 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and FM tuner support as well as a Marvell 3G baseband for high speed cellular data and voice access. The platform demonstrates the full suite of Marvell technologies for smartphone applications in a compact form factor that is easy for developers to use with powerful expansion options for adding more platform capabilities.


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Social Good Summit : Day 1 : Nicholas Negroponte [Sept 28, 2011]

One Laptop per Child founder Nicholas Negroponte aims to tackle universal education through technology. Already the organization has gained success in Uruguay, where every single child between the ages of five and fifteen have a laptop. But to achieve universal education, Negroponte argues that building schools and training teachers are not enough. In fact, he points out that many teachers in the developing world are illiterate themselves (shocking stat: 25% of teachers in Afghanistan are illiterate). He believes that children can learn on their own. The organization will be testing this notion out.

One Laptop Per Child Redux [Jeff Shear on Miller-McCune, Dec 23, 2011]

Declared dead just two years ago, the plan to provide every child in the developing world with a computer shows signs of life.

The New York Times called it,  “The Laptop That Will Save the World,” while the renowned Computer Graphics Laboratoryat Stanford University  referred to it as “a monumental feat of engineering and design.”

Dressed up like a toy in a Kermit-the-Frog green and white plastic shell, this durable little computer was the progeny of the nonprofit organization, One Laptop Per Child.

When the laptops went into mass production in November 2007, OLPC’s ambitious plan aimed to place a free computer into the hands of the world’s 1 billion impoverished children. Education is the exit ramp off the endless road of poverty, the organization argues, and because young people naturally take to computers, the idea is to use them as a way to bridge the so-called “digital gap” between the haves and the have-nots. The little laptop is seen as both a virtual classroom and teacher, with playful software designed for self-learning and an Internet connection to the Internet Archive, which has a dedicated OLPC gateway to its 1.6 million book library.

But in 2009, Scrooge came knocking on the organization’s door, accompanied by One Laptop’s own three ghosts: rough economic times, soaring costs, and technical glitches. Tumbling financial markets crippled donations, while its skittish supporters, chiefly philanthropies and foundations, abandoned it for greener pastures. Desperate to stay afloat, it fired half its staff, and cut pay to the 32 who remained.

These days, the company has been reorganizing, rehiring, reinventing, and aggressively making its way into the developing world. As many as 3 million of the nonprofit’s laptops are now in the hands of children and educators in 46 countries spanning 25 different languages. The company has staffed back up to 53 employees, although some are temporary software writers.

And in early 2012, a new super-low cost tablet, the XO-3, will debut, with a promised price-point of $75 for the nonprofit. Significantly, the XO-3 will be available outside OLPC. One Laptop hopes to prod the big manufacturers into using their distribution channels for their own branded versions of the tablet.

This is a big change for OLPC, an acknowledgement that they aren’t the only kid on the cheap-computer block. While iPads, Kindles, and other low-cost computers and tablets are sweeping the market, none of them are designed specifically as educational devices for primary and secondary school students. Intel’s Learning Series does make the Classmate netbook, but even discounted it goes for $505.

How does a computer designed for education differ from one used for education? “A child can do anything to this software and never break it,” explains Walter Bender, a co-founder of OLPC and a former director of the MIT Media Lab that created Sugar, the XO’s user interface. “Why? When you make mistakes you’re learning. When you don’t, you’re being incremental. Yet if penalty is high for making mistakes, you stop taking risks, you stop learning. We try to give kids a safe place to do trial and error, to go out there and do it in a way they can’t screw up.”

OLPC turnaround has reignited its bravado and swagger, stunts included.

Next week, the company plans to drop XO-3 from a helicopter — Santa has gone high tech — into the hands of some the poorest 5-to-8-year-olds in the remotest regions of the world. (Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Liberia are likely candidates ) In a recent interview appearing in New Scientist, the father of OLPC Nicholas Negroponte explained that the idea is to discover how much a child working on his own can learn from a computer with just “modest” intervention. In turn, OLPC will learn from the kids. After two years, trained researchers will return to the site to evaluate its effects.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Negroponte is recognized as one of the forefathers of the digital revolution. As chairman of MIT’s renown Media Lab, Negroponte announced the birth of the One Laptop Per Child project in January 2005 at the World Economic Forum. He carried around a prototype of a $100 laptop to meetings, and by the time he had packed his bags to fly home, he had collected letters of intent from several national leaders to buy as many as 9 million. That was very good news because the resulting economies of scale lowered costs to OLPC.

Negroponte soon sadly discovered that a letter of intent was a long way from a hard-boiled contract. Manufacturers who saw the original numbers and leapt on board to churn out laptops for $100 reversed themselves when actual orders came in for fewer than 800,000 machines, and their prices doubled.

The price hike hurt Negroponte’s grand design and also scuffed his reputation. He failed to deliver on his out-sized promises. At a well-attended technology conference in 2006, he told his audience his year-old operation — which had yet to begin mass production — would not launch without five to 10 million units in the first run. Further, he predicted that by 2008, OLPC would have 100 million to 200 million computers in place around the world.

Negroponte was both boastful and crotchety, a formula for making enemies. He was rude, too, scoffing at the idea of offering test runs to prospective countries. Speaking before a large audience, he said, “When people say we’d like to do three or four thousand [OLPC laptops] in our country to see how it works. [We say,] ‘Screw you. Go to the back of the line. …’

And it wasn’t just Negroponte’s attitude that didn’t sit well with partners. A $100 computer selling for more than $200 looked to them like a raw deal. Some donors thought that the high cost of the laptop was eating up money better spent immunizing children from measles and providing mosquito netting to fight off malaria.

Even Miller-McCune piled on with a widely quoted story by Timothy Ogden titled “Computer Error,”which suggested that the downfall OLPC might be a blessing in disguise. Ogden argued that, “If the goal is improving education for children in the developing world, there are plenty of better, and cheaper, alternatives.”

In the world of foundations and philanthropies, charities with donations under seven-figures, view organizations like OLPC as a zero-sum game. A dollar spent here is a dollar unavailable to spend there, a large part of Ogden’s thesis. Holden Karnofsky, co-executive director of GiveWell, which evaluates charities says, “If someone only has $100,000 to donate, they’re not going to buy computers. They’re going to give to a proven global health program.”

Large foundations, however, don’t see giving as a zero-sum game. “They look for programs that work,” says Rob Reich, at the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. “To use a phrase from a different realm, they want to maximize their return on investment.”

And that’s exactly what Negroponte was trying to do as he pulled OLPC out of its 2009 tailspin. That September, he split OLPC into two nonprofits. One was a cutting-edge research foundation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which he chaired. The other was an association based in Miami and run by Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby, a longtime Negroponte associate and former classmate at MIT.

The business end of OLPC was left to Arboleda, whose mantra is, “OLPC is a mission and not a market.” OLPC has ever been out to make money. The association doesn’t talk about sales; it talks about “deployments.” A high-powered entrepreneur and former trustee of Save the Children, Arboleda made two significant changes to OLPC. First, he focused the association’s energies where it had its earliest and greatest successes: Eighty-percent of OLPC’s first million sales came from Latin America.

Arboleda also looked to Latin America to restaff. He hired Roberto Interiano, a former vice minister of foreign relations for El Salvador, to manage overseas operations. Dr. Antonio Battro, an Argentinian researcher in the field of “neuroeducation”became the association’s chief education officer. It was a good fit; OLPC already used his research, while Battro says, “We believe the computer gives the child access to higher levels of logical thinking.”

Arboleda’s second big move was to take OLPC off life support. “Our original financial model was devoted to donations,” he says. “You can’t go with hat in hand begging.” The association is now a contract-driven enterprise, working chiefly through governments.

And one more thing: the new tablet being introduced early next year aims square at Africa’s sweet spot. Rwanda has already deployed 110,000 OLPC laptops as part of an effort to create an industrial/service-based economyby 2020. Ten years into the program, its Ministry of Education claims nearly universal school enrollment and a dropout rate falling from 47 percent to 25 percent. Arboleda says he is thinking about dubbing 2012 the Year of Africa.

Matt Keller, OLPC’s “global advocate,” and his family will be moving to Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, where he plans to make the Horn of Africa his base in the next nine months. “What we’re asking ourselves,” says the former legislative director of Common Cause and senior program officer for the U.N.’s World Food Program, “is whether children in non-literate communities with no access to schools can teach themselves to read by using the XO-3.”

A hundred million African children have no access to schools, let alone electric power. The back of the XO-3 tablet is a solar panel used for re-charging.

“The XO-3 is a world in a box that can be accessed by any child anywhere. My chief aim is to reach kids off the grid in remote sub-Saharan Africa,” he says of the project also being backed being backed by the artificial intelligence unit at MIT. “We want kids to be connected to other kids everywhere.

“It’s not a choice between mosquito netting, health and education,” he insists. “It’s not a zero-sum game. When kids are educated, good things happen. A generation of children who learn to think critically, analytically and rationally will change the status quo.”

Happy New Year! Reflections on OLPC in 2011 [the official OLPC blog, Dec 31, 2011]

As we prepare for 2012, here is a quick look back at the past year of OLPC. We distributed our two millionth laptop (now 2.5M), and our largest programs in Latin America (Peru) and Africa (Rwanda) grew steadily. Austria’s Julieta Rudich and Journeyman Pictures produced a fine documentary about Plan Ceibal in Uruguay (the world’s first complete olpcprogram), and Peru provided XOs and compatible robotics kits to all of their urban schools.

In East Africa, we expanded our work with African nations and donors to improve education for children across the continent. We were invited by both the African Union and the UN to open an OLPC office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis is a major hub for African diplomacy, and the support there for our mission has been stunning. We have become a full partner of the East African Community in Tanzania, and our recent country report on Rwandahas driven further interest in the region.


A Rwandan student workshop in Kigali

In the Middle East, we continued working with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN to provide thousands of Palestinian children with XO laptops, integrating them into schools. It took ten months to work the laptops through customs in Gaza. But at a forum in Ramallah in June, teachers from Bethlehem and Gaza showed how OLPC was helping to end isolation and to excite learning for their children. Third grade girls in refugee camps are teaching others and writing computer programs. The testimony of these women to the power of persistence was extraordinary.

In Afghanistan, we founded a regional OLPC Afghanistan office, and briefed General Petraeus on the project. We believe that one laptop per child and connectivity, across the country, will transform this generation and their communities. Today we are working with the Education Ministry to support four thousand children in 10 schools, and are looking into expanding in Herat Province.

On the technical side, we focused on driving down laptop power needs by switching over to ARM chips in the XO-1.75 and upcoming XO-3 tablet. The tablet should be chargable by a solar panel that could serve as its carrying-case. We are studying new waysto help children learn to read, including where there are no schools at all.

In society, the idea that every child should have access to their own computer and to the Web – as a basic part of learning, whatever their family income – continued to spread. In addition to ongoing national programs in Argentina, Portugal, and Venezuela (for secondary students), two full-saturation laptop programs for older students are developing in India – an inexpensive tablet is being distributed to university students, and in Tamil Nadudual-boot laptops from six different manufacturers are being provided to secondary students.

Reaching the least-developed countries in the world remains our goal and our most difficult challenge. While our largest deployments are funded directly by implementing governments, rural successes may be driven by foundations, NGOs, and individual donations. OLPC Rwanda, today one of the largest educational technology projects in Africa and part of a ten-year government plan, was seeded with ten thousand laptops given by Give One, Get Onedonors.

So to our supporters: thank youfor your development, contributions, and collaboration, your feedback from the field, and your encouragement! This is all possible thanks to you.

Happy New Year to all — may 2012 bring you inspiration and discovery. We have some excellent surprises planned for the new year. And we would love to hear your reflections as well — please share stories from your own school projects in 2011.

OLPC’s XO-3 Tablet to Debut at CES [IDG News, Jan 7, 2012]

One Laptop Per Child’s XO-3 tablet is ready to ship after years in the making, and working units will be shown next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, OLPC founder and chairman Nicholas Negroponte said.

The tablet has an 8-inch screen and will be priced at less than US$100 as originally planned, Negroponte said via e-mail. Like OLPC’s XO-1 laptop, the XO-3 will be offered as an educational tool for children in developing countries. Negroponte declined to say if it will also be sold at retail.

The XO-3 was first announced in late 2009 with availability targeted for early 2012. At the time, skeptics questioned OLPC’s mission, accusing it of losing its educational focusin favor of designing hardware at unachievable price points.

The XO-3’s on-time release will help erase unpleasant memories of the XO-1 project, for which the laptop shipped late and at double the promised $100 price tag.

The XO-3 uses a Marvell chip with an ARM-based CPU running at 1GHz and will run Linux-based software such as Google’s Android or Chrome operating systems. It will be offered with optional technologies, such as a power-saving Pixel Qi screen and a solar charger for the battery.

“[The XO-3] price will be $100 or lower. But this time there are options, so we cannot guarantee the final price,” Negroponte said

The tablet provides about eight to 10 hours of battery life, though some audiences may choose a smaller battery capacity to reduce the purchase price, said Ed McNierney, chief technology officer at OLPC.

The internal batteries can be charged by “just about anything that produces DC power,” he said. The charging options include solar panels or hand cranks, and a study is under way to see if the battery can be detached and the tablet powered directly through a solar cell.

“Our ability to accept erratic, variable, noisy power inputs is extremely important to us, and something no other tablet has even attempted,” McNierney said.

The tablet is also available with a traditional LCD screen. But the optional Pixel Qi display absorbs ambient light to brighten the screen, reducing power consumption and extending battery life.

Eight inches is the right size for the display, McNierney said, because a 9.7-inch display is too big for children to handle, and 7 inches “seems too small to be usable.”

Microsoft’s Windows will not run on the device, only Linux-based OSes, Negroponte said. The nonprofit has abandoned its pursuit of Windows for tablets, even though Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 will work on ARM processors. Negroponte has said the tablet on display at CES will run Google’s Android OS.

OLPC didn’t share further specifics, but the tablet may include a camera and USB ports, according to some design details shared with IDG News Service in July, .

The XO-3 ultimately will replace the XO-1.75 laptops that are currently shipping, Negroponte said.

OLPC is not dependent on a specific manufacturer for the tabletand will work with “whomsoever wants to roll-out the tablet, for whatsoever purpose, at a very large scale,” Negroponte said, adding the objective is to see prices plummet.

As part of a two-year project to study educational development among young children in developing countries, researchers will collect data from XO-3 tablets used by three-to-eight-year-olds in India, Tanzania and Sierra Leone. Software on the tablets will record audio and video and adapt a reading platform to the needs of the children without human intervention. The project will study how children interact with the tablet and will aid in the study of tools for self-learning and critical thinking among children. One goal is to provide basic comprehension and reading, which is important in countries where teacher training is inadequate.

“In the reading experiment, where we ask can a child learn to read on his or her own, we imagine many hours of use per day, as many as six or eight. Frankly, the reading experiment may be the most important thing I have ever done….if it works,” Negroponte said.

The study will be run out of the MIT Media Lab and be conducted in partnership with Tufts University, Newcastle University, and OLPC.

OLPC XO-3 tablet delayed [networkworld, Nov 3, 2010]

OLPC XO-3 Tablet Delayed [IDG News, Nov 3, 2010]

Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop Per Child said that the XO-3 tablet computer will debut sometime in February 2011, about 45 days later than originally planned.

Negroponte said that he wants the screen to be flexible so that it is more resistant to breaking, but that it doesn’t need to roll up.

“The issue has been really finding an unbreakable material, which may not be plastic, it may be glass or some flavor of glass,” he said during a video interview at MIT.

At first the XO-3 won’t be branded OLPC, rather made by Marvell, with the actual XO-3 to follow.

The tablet will eventually cost US$75 and during a May 2010 interview, Negroponte said hitting that mark wouldn’t be a problem.

Sitting in his sparse office in the MIT Media Lab, which he founded 25 years ago, Negroponte said that the job of the XO-3 is “pushing where normal market forces wouldn’t otherwise.”

“We’re going to push down on price, we’re going to push on non-breakable, we’re going to push particularly on power because we want to hand crank these things,” he said. “Our characteristics are ones that the market wouldn’t do normally, but that we will bring sooner or prove that can be done.”

Once the XO-3 tablet does debut, it will co-exist “for some time” along with the original laptop.

“It is unclear to us now both in the labs and imagining the future if the haptic version of the tablet keyboard is going to be sufficient to allow you to use it as a general purpose computer,” Negroponte said.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.


1 Comment

  1. […] the tablet and smartphone fronts [Aug 21, 2011 – Jan 19, 2012], so far in the Android, Google TV, educational and OPhone spaces, here is the next large scale opportunity for the company. With the young and […]

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