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A closeup of the marvelous mini-computer, that's the size of a USB stick -- and almost as cheap as one.  (Source: p Raspberry Pi Foundation)

With a mouse, keyboard, and monitor/HDMI-compatible TV, a child is set to play on the device.  (Source: p Raspberry Pi Foundation)
Forget OLPC, just give kids one of these things

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project was an ambitious and forward-looking plan.  Unfortunately for all its ambition, it might have been a bit poorly executed.  The initial target cost of $100 ballooned to $188 per laptop.

However, a software great in Britain has devised [video] what could be the salvation of OLPC and similar future programs -- a fully functional computer that's as small as a USB stick and costs only $25 USD (£15) to make.

The tiny computer -- dubbed "Raspberry Pi" -- looks somewhat like a standard USB memory stick, as a USB 2.0 connector juts out of it.  But on the side it packs a SD/MMC/SDIO card reader to provide Flash storage (of course buying said storage might bump the price $10-$20).  And on the side opposite to the USB port an HDMI connector sits, capable of piping out 1080p video to a monitor/TV.

The little board has smartphone-esque hardware, with a 700MHz ARM11 processor and 128 MB of SDRAM packed in.  Specifics on the processor, including the manufacturer were not yet revealed.  The GPU also was not revealed, but it is said to be capable of handling OpenGL ES 2.0 (hence the 1080p output).

Mice/keyboards can be plugged in via the USB slot.  The computer runs a version of popular open-source Linux distribution Ubuntu 9 and comes with a variety of open source software tools (Iceweasel, KOffice, Python).

An expansion port allows for additional hardware models.  For example, a 12 MP camera module was shown off.

A full spec sheet and overview is available here.

The inventor David Braben is the founder of development studio Frontier Developments and co-developer of the game Elite.  His game studio has offered such hot-selling titles as the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, ThrillvilleLost Winds, and most recently Kinectimals.

Lately Mr. Braben has been driven to try to inspire the next generation to success in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).  He is looking to deploy the mini-computer as a device packed with courses for children that teach them about the basics of computer hardware and programming software.

He has launched a UK registered charity dubbed the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

He states that children will be able to "use [the device] as a computer to learn program, to be able to run Twitter, Facebook, whatever.  But also to be able to understand the whole process of programming.  A lot of things have been obfuscated these days in the sense that you can't get at them.  There's so much between you and doing something interesting or creative that it gets in the way.  And hopefully this device will be one of the pieces that helps change that."

The Raspberry Pi foundation plans to distribute the tiny PC to children in the UK, as well as third world children, though no solid release date has been announced yet.



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RE: These initiatives are silly
By Targon on 5/9/2011 5:58:04 AM , Rating: 2
You clearly are missing a big piece of the puzzle in improving conditions around the world. Yes, having access to clean water and food is critical for survival, but once those things have been taken care of, what then? What about giving children the knowledge and experience they need to actually earn an HONEST living in the real world without resorting to working for scammers and criminals?

This is what things like one laptop per child is all about. In the USA, there are some who do not have their own computer, so learning how to use a computer is more difficult and limited to what a school can offer(which isn't much in some areas).

The idea that those in third world countries never really get out of poverty because most of the effort is on the basics of survival is a part of the problem. If you don't stop at feeding the poor, and instead also look to getting the poor to actually get jobs and be self sufficient, these third world countries might be in better shape.

Basically, what has been lacking is a focus on getting poor AREAS to the point where they will not need help FOREVER. How long has the effort to "feed the starving people of Ethiopia" been going on? Since the 1960s if not earlier, and yet, after all these decades of getting help and feeding the children there, is there any real improvement where the world doesn't have to keep helping the people there feed themselves?


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