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OLPC confirms tablet production for third world education project

ITProPortal has long-been intrigued by the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project founded by Nicholas Negroponte, which seeks to stimulate education among the world’s poorest children by donating laptops to deprived communities.

The non-profit scheme has grabbed global attention and when ITProPortal met its creator in May, Negroponte told us that tablets were being trialled as an alternative technology in the targeted regions. The test has obviously shown signs of success as OLPC has now announced that its next devices will have “a fully armed and operational tablet mode.”

The development comes courtesy of a licensing agreement with Swedish firm Neonode, which possesses its own patented optical touch technology. The touchscreen capabilities will be incorporated into the 7.5in, sunlight-readable displays of the project’s XO laptop range.

OLPC says the XO will remain “the lowest-power laptop around” thanks to the “energy-conscious” technology of Neonode, which includes features like gesture-activated wakeup.

Rodrigo Arboleda, CEO of OLPCA, said it was “proud to partner with an organisation that shares its appreciation for innovative and transformative technology.” He continued, “Neonode’s expertise in engineering and design will turn the XO Touch, which combines the best features of laptop and tablet, into a next-level innovative machine.”

Neonode CEO Thomas Eriksson added, “This market entry confirms that our Multi-Sensing technology makes it possible to create a top class product that is both affordable and extremely energy saving and still has a user interface that is radical enough to satisfy the uncompromising demands of knowledge - and entertainment-thirsty children.”

After Negroponte revealed the latest plans for the project in May, ITPP examined the potential impact of tablets on the third world as well as the OLPC mission as a whole. Research suggested the usability of touchscreen devices engages children quickly and effectively in comparison to other technology, offering hope for the project’s new adaptation.