One Laptop Per Child Foundation Focuses On Western World

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has confirmed that chip house Marvell is giving the group $5.6m (£3.5m) to develop a new tablet PC for Western markets.

The plan is to develop a tablet running Android aimed at children in the developed world initially and then use the reference design to build a lower cost tablet running Linux for the developing world, with a target price of $75 (£47).

The funding will pay for final design and production work, as well as the purchase of Marvell hardware for use in the tablet. Marvell is a long-time technology partner of the OLPC project, but with this funding has taken a primary role.

"Their money is a grant to the OLPC Foundation to develop a tablet or tablets based on their chip," Nicholas Negroponte told Xconomy.

"They're going to put the whole system on a chip."

The new computer, dubbed the XO-3, will be around the size of an iPad, he said. Negroponte is an iPad user himself.

As promised, Negroponte plans to unveil the new tablet at CES in 2011. However, he has not said if the CES presentation will be a working model or just a mock-up, nor if it will carry the advanced screen technology Negroponte insists is needed in order to make the computer usable indoors and out.

After significant success in South America and Africa, the OLPC Foundation is now pushing into the most deprived areas of the world, in particular Gaza and Afghanistan, Negroponte said.

Since many inhabitants in these regions can barely afford to eat, let alone buy a computer, the OLPC Foundation is concentrating on persuading governments and aid agencies to purchase the hardware, but so far no one is taking a lead he said.

"The American government spends $2bn a week on the war, and we spend $2m a week on education [in Afghanistan]. It's kind of incredible," he said.

"So all the president of the United States has to do is move half of one per cent from Column A to Column B and every child in Afghanistan would have a connected laptop."

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