Socially Responsible Design of the One Laptop Per Child XO Computer is Honored with Popular Science Magazine 19th "Best of What's New" Grand Award
Can socially responsible design change the world? Fuseproject's product design of the new One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO computer can. Honored by "Popular Science" magazine's "Best of What's New" Grand Award, the XO computer marries fuseproject's high-concept design with cutting-edge technological solutions for a very low price. The goal of the project is both simple and worthy: to give every child a laptop computer, especially in developing countries, where the machines will be sold in bulk for about $130 each.
The revolutionary child-size laptop was created by the nonprofit OLPC, which was formed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Nicholas Negroponte. It brings learning, information and communication to children where education is needed most: in developing countries. The result is a cheap and energy-efficient computer. The machine's reduction in energy use by 90 percent is ideal for a device that could be charged by hand-cranked power in rural villages.
The OLPC is designed as a compact, durable and expressive product. Every design aspect of the machine serves a dual purpose to achieve a sense of economy and efficiency. When closed, the entire unit is sealed, protecting it from dust and dirt. When it is opened, it has a whimsical and tactile richness, with the Wi-Fi antenna's (also called Rabbit Ears), giving the OLPC an endearing personality.
Antennas also function as covers for the laptop's USB ports and dual latches to close the clamshell. The handle doubles as an attachment for a shoulder strap. The surrounding colored bumper is a seal to protect from dust, as well as a tactile ergonomic palm surface, which also integrates the feet on the underbelly of the laptop.
The MIT engineers perfected a new type of LCD screen, which slashes energy usage. Turn on the computer and a full-color image appears. Turn it off to save power and the screen forms a black and white image for reading text or email, even in the sun.
In ebook mode, the wide track-pad doubles as a drawing/stencil writing tablet (handy for learning how to write script letters).
"I am honored to received this Popular Science recognition," says fuseproject founder Yves Behar.
"This is a rare and creative project for us, which allows us to make a difference to the other 90 percent of the world, the developing nations. It is truly exciting for us to be able to finally realize the democratizing power of the personal computer: bringing access to information to all."
With the built-in powerful Wi-fi antennas, children will be able to connect with each other, their schools and to the web. The mesh network is possible thanks to these antennas: they achieve half-a-mile radius, which connects each laptop to one another. This is also possible since the school districts will distribute literally one unit per child, hence disseminating many wi-fi spots across a town or village and instantly creating a wi-fi network for entire areas. Servers and satellite connection are dropped in remote places, allowing the kids to connect from anywhere, and access school books and lessons from the school directly. In places where an internet connection already exists, no server will be needed.
Skype, Google, Echostar and Linux Red Hat are some of the more visible partners, and thanks to an integrated video camera, microphone and the powerful Wi-fi antennas, children will be able to connect readily. Traditional power and human power solutions include rechargeable batteries, hand-cranks, foot-pedals, pull-cords and eventually solar energy depending on the appropriate need.
By giving school systems an easy way to reach all the children in a developing country's population, OLPC connects children to education in a completely new fashion: children are given access, while practicing their intuitive abilities to learn on a self-tutoring machine. By bringing the laptops home after school, the children continue to learn and educate the world around them. By owning a practical, beautiful and tactile object, the children acquire the pride and dignity of a tool of their own.
The Popular Science What's New Awards identify thousands of new products and technologies in 10 categories and then choose 100 of them for awards. Best of What's New awards recognize outstanding innovation, vision and execution. It is juried by Popular Science senior editor Mike Haney, deputy editor Glenn Coleman and associate editor Joe Brown. For each product category, an editor from Popular Science leads a panel of at least three judges-veteran contributors who are experts in their fields.
Founded in 1999 by Yves Behar, fuseproject is an award-winning San Francisco-based industrial design and branding agency. It works across a wide array of industries as diverse as beauty and fashion to furniture and technology. In-house capabilities span industrial design, packaging, graphics, and environmental design. fuseproject's breadth of service is both broad and narrow, from an overall branding program, incorporating marketing strategies and communication tactics, to product design. Its clients include Herman Miller, Nike, Microsoft, Hussein Chalayan, Mini, Birkenstock.
Fuseproject has been featured in leading publications, including New York Times, Fast Company
and ID Magazine. Founder Yves Behar was the winner of the Cooper Hewitt Design Award 2005.