The One Laptop Per Child project introduced the idea of small, low-cost, low-power durable laptops that could be used by students around the world, with a special focus on developing markets. The first XO Laptop units shipped in 2007, and over the next few years the developers improved the hardware and software… and inspired the consumer devices like netbooks as well as other education-focused projects like Intel’s Classmate PC lineup.

It’s been a few years since OLPC launched a new laptop, much of the core team has left the project, and these days the company partners with Vivitar to offer cheap Android tablets.

But the folks at OLPC’s Australian partner One Education have decided to pick up where OLPC left off. They’ve just introduced a new laptop design called the XO-Infinity. It’s a modular laptop designed to be upgraded and modified, and it could ship in 2016.

xo infinity

The idea is to provide children with a single laptop that they can use throughout their school years by offering the ability to change out components as a student’s needs change. One Education says the laptop should be useful for ten years rather than outdated in two.

The core computer will be a small, durable machine with support for a range of hardware including touchscreens and keyboards, ARM or x86 chips, and operating systems including Linux, Android, and Windows.

For instance you could give a a tablet with an ARM-based chip and Android-based software to a child too young to read and they could use the computer to interact with educational apps using a touchscreen. As they get older they can add a keyboard to turn the tablet into a laptop, swap out the processor and operating system, and start using the machine as a Linux or Windows computer.

Need to replace the battery, upgrade the wireless module, or make other changes? Each component is designed to be easily replaceable: you don’t need special tools to open up the case in order to upgrade the system. One Education says the XO-Infinity is designed so a 4-year-old child can assemble it.

So far, One Education’s XO-infinity is still just a prototype. The group doesn’t expect to have a working model until this summer, plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for mass production later this year, and it will be early 2016 by the time the computers are ready to ship.

Still, it’s interesting to see someone keeping the OLPC dream alive — even if it’s not yet clear if the XO-Infinity will be made available outside of Australia anytime soon.

via Sydney Morning Herald and Ink, Bits, and Pixels

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14 replies on “XO-Infinity is a modular laptop for students, picks up where OLPC left off”

  1. I think that is a cool idea. It is a step up from their previous model, IMO.

  2. Kids? Forget the kids we need this for adults now. All of these garbage no SD card , not upgradeable tablets are bad for wallet, earth, people and animals.

  3. I have a gut feeling that modular is not always a good idea.

    The modular design is a double edged sword, not everything should be removable by the end user.

    Things that should be modular:
    + Battery
    + Internal Disk
    + RAM

    Things that should Not be modular:
    – Webcam
    – Wifi
    – CPU

    Why? Because of drivers and compatibility.
    That’s my humble opinion.

    1. I think the main idea here is to give students the opportunity to tinker with electronics from an early age, where it’s much easier to comprehend the concepts that make things work.

      1. if we want them to learn about computers then why dumb it down & make this computer unlike most others?

        You think these kids can’t follow instructions online? Let them tinker & fail, stop holding their hands.

        1. So you would let your child play with your computer parts like Lego? Do you realize how expensive and wasteful that is? Not to mention the danger with power supplies. Do you teach your kids to ride on the bike by throwing them onto a real bike or with a training wheel? Do you teach your kids math by throwing an algebra book at them or with pictorial examples? Your logic doesn’t make sense at all.

    2. And which company is going to make parts for a product thats exclusive to a demographic that requires peoples donation to buy these laptops. Obviously these guys plan on making their own modules. If they do so, why in heck would they make parts that are incompatible with their own products.

  4. The modular design is nice. It will help make sure that every child is familiar with incompatible drivers at an early age.

    There are very good technical reasons that low cost, low power, and reliable smartphones are sold as a device rather than as a DIY kit.

    1. It’s not really low cost when you have to buy parts individually, computers as a whole double in power almost every year, why just limit yourself with only upgrading some of the parts? Especially when the new parts work even better when connected to other new parts.

      Their whole focus on laptops instead of smartphones (which are cheaper) shows this group doesnt know what theyre doing

      1. That’s utterly nonsense. So Chromebook for education means Google doesn’t know what they’re doing? Part of educating the kids is to have them learn typing and produce word-like documents and possibly learn programming. Smartphone is just stabbing yourself in the leg while trying to go for a jog.

        You’re not seeing the main point that this isn’t about the kids being able to upgrade to the latest greatest like you would with a gaming machine. Its about kids not having to purchase a whole new machine when their needs a change. They’re not doing this so other companies will catch on and build parts. Nobody is going to do that – that’s something they’re going to be doing themselves. How do you think Apple manages to optimize their hardware components? Because they only produce so many products and they assemble it themselves.

    2. Its very good especially when people in developed countries buy preassembled computers and havent the slightest clue what’s in their computer.

    1. How is that? Sounds like a costly, narcissistic direction that would price the “project” out of its original goal market. Not to mention all the pieces and parts getting trashed or lost by tinkering kiddies. I suppose it has just become a machine for sucking up and burning crowdsourcing cash.

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