Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Bridging the digital divide with a self-powered laptop


Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States, plan to provide laptops costing just US$100 to 100-200 million schoolchildren in the developing world by 2006.

But bridging the digital divide between rich and poor countries is not just about making a cheap product, it is also about making it usable in areas that have unstable electricity supplies, poor transport systems, and few trained computer technicians.

In this article, Clint Witchalls reports how Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists Nicholas Negroponte, Seymour Papert and Joseph Jacobson aim to overcome these problems. They are developing innovative ways of powering the machines, such as through the action of typing. The laptops are also being designed to be as robust as military equipment to prevent them being damaged in transit on poor roads.

Similar projects have failed before, Witchalls reports, but Negroponte has the advantage of experience in providing information and communication technologies to schoolchildren in poor rural communities. The plan has already received US$2 million from both Google and computer chip maker ADM, and samples should be ready by September this year.

Link to full article in the The Guardian
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.