This one has received a lot of media coverage and many may have even seen the billboards advertising the holiday season’s give-one-get-one campaign.
The One Laptop Per Child initiative seeks give kids in developing countries a chance at what those of us of the screen generation (Gen Y) have had since many of us were toddlers– access to computers and the skills that come with it. While all of that comes wrapped in a package with games, pictures, and videos, the idea is to make kids comfortable with technology, so that later on in life they can easily develop the computer skills necessary for jobs and higher education.
The computers themselves (Called the XO) are quite impressive, even by American standards. They network via Wi-Fi better than a typical laptop so students can collaborate or play together (and as far as I can tell, internet chat, which we all know is the most important). They take pictures and video, just like my trusty MacBook. They consume low amounts of power and can be recharged a variety of ways, including with car batteries. Not to mention, they’re built like tanks to handle the punishment kids, heat, dust, and humidity can throw down. Sealed rubber keyboards, rubber-bumpered screens (which display well outdoors), extra-thick plastic, batteries without poisonous heavy metals and a trusty carry handle are all part of the mix. The unique software and design prevent them from being stolen and sent to the black market.
XO’s have been deployed to 26 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania so far with no signs of stopping yet.
If you’re a student, you can get involved. Paid internships delivering and setting up the laptops abroad are available for current grad students and undergrads on the OLPC website.