India is developing a 35-dollar computer for students
The Indian government unveiled the world’s cheapest “laptop” computer meant for students – a touch-screen device that costs $35. Developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Science, mass production of the computer might begin as soon as next year, claims Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, adding the government is trying to find ways to cut the price to as low as $10.
India released its pint-sized computer five years after scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced their $100 laptop for children in developing countries. The government spends just about 3 percent of annual budget on education. The literacy rate has shown steady improvement over the past few years to reach over 65 percent of India’s 1.2-billion population (pretty low, compared to China with 94 percent).
“India had developed another low-cost computing device last year but it cost about 65 dollars. This is a different model … it looks like an Apple iPad,” said Mamta Verma, a ministry spokeswoman.
The laptop has all the basic features, including seven- and nine-inch (18- and 23-centimeter) Linux-based touch screen, 2 GB of RAM memory, Wi-fi connectivity, USB ports and is powered by a 2-watt system for use in power-deficit areas. It weighs 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds), and it has ability to run on battery or solar power.
Regarding the media it supports, it has an Internet browser, a media player, a reader for PDF files and has video conferencing abilities. One drawback to the computer is that it doesn’t have a hard disk, instead, it has a memory card like a cellphone to store files.
H.P. Khincha, a professor at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, said the new low-cost computer would be beneficial as schools move to add lectures and study materials online. Already, nearly 500 web- and video-based courses have been uploaded on YouTube. However, there are some studies that claim such gadgets are detrimental in learning processes since they offer games and idling in other entertainment available on the Internet.
There is also the problem of the actual manufacturing at that price, since the developers hope someone will make an offer to make this tablet-looking gadget at such a low price. Only time will tell will this project fail completely, succeed or end like the project from MIT where actual price was two times higher than predicted.