Elon Musk once said the purpose of Tesla was to catalyze the auto industry—forcing it to make electric cars was a bigger goal than creating a viable business.
Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT professor that founded One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is doing the same for computers. OLPC's first product, the XO, essentially launched the netbook wave, as manufacturers not included as partners on the project set out to beat it.
OLPC’s images of it's next device, a superthin education tablet PC that would cost $75, are as mouthwatering as the best “one last thing” Steve Jobs could dream up. According to Forbes, the “XO-3” is targeted for release in 2012, and is little more than an idea in the head of Yves Behar, founder of FuseProject, which designed the both the original and the XO-3.
Its minimalist design takes away virtually every element of a traditional computer except a screen, a camera, and a thin frame. A foldable loop at one corner can be used for balancing or carrying the device. The multi-touch screen is plastic, resilient, ultra low-power, and slightly flexible. To build them, the company is teaming with startup PixelIQ, founded by Negroponte understudy Mary Lou Jepsen.
Of course, Negroponte’s track record of delivering isn’t perfect. His promised $100 PC only made it to $175. Take that price point outside the context of Negroponte’s pronouncements, however, and you have a revolutionary (in the true sense of the word, not the hackneyed pitch sense) device with big implications for global education, economy and culture.
Negroponte is open about his primary goal—he’d happily be beaten at his own game. As OLPC designs and builds the XO-3, it will open the architecture of the computer to allow any other PC manufacturer to take over the project. “"We don't necessarily need to build it," he told Forbes. "We just need to threaten to build it."
The dot below the blue cross is the camera lens.
The loop handle folds back and can be held in a retracted position with magnets.
images courtesy: OLPC