Negroponte Outlines the Future of OLPC—Hints at Paperlike Design for Third Generation Laptop

11/2/09Follow @wroush

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less important only because the point has been made and traction exists.

X: In January, you laid out four main goals: development of the Generation 2.0 
laptop, a no-cost connectivity program, publishing a million digital books, and passing on the development of the Sugar operating system to the community. We just asked about the books. Could you provide an update on the other three areas?

NN: 2.0 has been replaced by two things: 1) model 1.75, same industrial design but an ARM inside, 2) model 3.0, totally different industrial design, more like a sheet of paper. No cost connectivity will start up with the ITU in Geneva. It has been the slowest piece.

[Editor's comment: By "model 1.75," Negroponte is referring to an upgraded version of the current green-and-white XO laptop with a different processor inside---a faster chip made by UK-based chipmaker ARM. The Generation 2.0 XO laptop was to be a book-like pair of touchscreens, but would likely have been too expensive to build. OLPC has not released further details about the paper-like "3.0" model Negroponte describes. The ITU is the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland. Along with OLPC and other groups such as AMD's 50x15 Foundation, the ITU is working to bring high-speed Internet service to at least half of the world's population by 2015.]

[Update, 11/2/09, 11:30 pm: We wrote back to Negroponte to request more details about the "model 3.0" XO laptop. He replied: "Not much to say other than its aspirational aspects: 3.0 is a single sheet, completely plastic and unbreakable, waterproof, 1/4" thick, full color, reflective and transmissive, no bezel, no holes. 1W. $75, ready in 2012."]

X: What are the advantages to separating Sugar from the XO, and what are your thoughts about Sugar on a Stick and other work Walter Bender is doing at Sugar Labs?

NN: Sugar Labs has taken over Sugar and is doing what we should have done in the first place, making it an application not an operating system.

[Editors' comment: In the spring of 2008, OLPC co-founder Walter Bender left the organization and started Sugar Labs, a non-profit group which has taken over development of Sugar, the education-oriented operating environment designed for the XO Laptop. This June, Sugar Labs released a version of Sugar stored on a USB drive, allowing anyone to run Sugar on a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine. The software-supported educational activities originally envisioned as the main application for the XO Laptop have thus been separated from the laptop itself.]

X: Are there any new goals, and if so, what are they?

NN: We have separated the Foundation and Association, making two non-profit entities, moving from OLPC to olpc. The Association, based in Miami, deals … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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