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Monday, March 13, 2006

New OLPC Design Concepts


Well, sooner or later, word was going to get back to Negroponte and the MIT Media Lab, home of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. These are the geniuses (literally, geniuses, no sarcasm intended) who are working on the $100 laptop for the developing world (you read about them here at WTKSC). Problem is, these folks are seriously brilliant in lots of ways, but style wasn't their forte.

Somebody, somewhere, finally found a "comments" link, or they sent a snail mail via general delivery and broke the news: that green number with the big-@$$ handcrank was ugly. Not just homely, we're talkin' "U-G-L-Y, you-ain't-got-no-alibi, you're-UGLY, yeah-yeah, you're-ugly!"

To their credit, the crew went back to the drawing board, and came up with a couple of new design concepts. These, while certainly not a threat to Apple, represent a significant improvement in style and marketability (as if you need fancy-schmancy design to market a $100 lappie).

(Click the link for more pics and d33ts ... )

Remember that OLPC is a mesh-network node, with auxiliary power via hand crank, a ruggedized design, and a rock-bottom price point based on open-source OS and firmware. The initial design (pictured here in dashing its' Kermit-toned glam) was good enough for a press release, but wasn't much of a head-turner. Now, OLPC is giving Hello Kitty and Fisher-Price a run for their money, though it seems unlikely that this lapster will ever reach the must-have status of a cellie or a Crackberry.

Nonetheless, props are due for OLPC's foray into fashion, as these two new concepts designs are far and away more attractive than their predecessor. Plus, the swivel-screen e-book style flip-and-fold screams "versatility and style," while the dual four-way controllers on either side of the screen suggest game-like capability. Also note the extra-wide touchpad below the keyboard ... something similar appearing on the USPTO website not long ago from the design gurus at a certain fruit-flavored hardware/software maven. Scroll on for more pics below.

















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