The OLPC project may be suffering from a poorly received give one get one program, and staffing cuts due to budget constraints. But it appears the group is moving ahead on plans for the next generation XO Laptop, which could be available in 2010, if the OLPC project is still going a year from now.

And how do I know that the work is underway on the OLPC version 2? Because Netvibes and Jolicloud founder Tariq Krim snapped a photo of a mockup in Davos today. The photo was only shared with Krim’s Facebook friends, but lucky for us Sascha from Netbook News.de grabbed the image and uploaded it to Flickr.

Right now all we’ve got to go on is a blurry cellphone picture. (Update: This is most likely a non-working mockup) No word on how well this protoype works, what kind of processing power or battery life it has, or anything else. But the machine does look remarkably like the concept photos that were released last summer. It appears to have two touchscreens allowing the device to be held flat for use in tablet mode. Theoretically you should also be able to fold the computer into a clamshell shape and use an on-screen keyboard on one of the displays for touch typing.

It’s a neat concept, but that touchscreen/keyboard is going to have to be pretty responsive if it’s supposed to be an alternative to a normal keyboard. Of course, the target audience here isn’t adults who are used to touch typing. It’s kids who may have limited or no experience at all with old fashioned keyboars. And if we’ve learned one thing over the last few years from cellphone keyboards, it’s that kids can learn to type on anything if it helps them communicate.

I’ll be curious to see whether the OLPC project helps bring down the cost of this technology enough that we’ll see other computer makers try to incorporate dual touchscreens into their devices. What do you think? Would you want a netbook or laptop that looks like the OlPC v2? Or would you rather have a standard keyboard?

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8 replies on “Is the OLPC 2.0 the future of computing or just a silly idea?”

  1. No Tactile feedback, I suspect it would be useless for any serious touch typing. Of course the recent Nokia advances (Haptikos) could help. Interesting effort to advance the technology.
    Personally I’d prefer a single screen tablet (like the techcrunch) with the 6 key GKOS chordic keyboard, fast, international and elegant.

    1. Haptic is great but I think that things like Swype are showing us other viable approaches that this kind of device could handle just fine. I, for one, would certainly prefer something with tactile feedback or even better, a USB port that allows me to bring the input device of my choice when I feel the need, but if the price were right and the OS able to meet my modest needs, I would certainly get quite a lot of use out of one of these.

      1. GKOS today has an on-screen multitouch keyboard option as well. You can try that on iPhone or Android. Could also be adapted to OLPC.

  2. I find it’s concept good for a pmp-like device. While it’s closed it’ll take the space of a phone and if it’s open you’ll have two screens that could be configured to make a bigger one where you could watch movies with a pretty cool size for a portable device. And there’s something interesting, you could add a qwerty keyboard at the back of one of the screens and a small screen and a phone keyboard in the other one and then make the device have three states (closed for using it as a phone, opened 60º for using it as a pmp or 120º to use it as a qwerty-phone) and voila! You have the ultimate device. However, that would be somewhat expensive, so it’ll not be that good, unless you add a fast processor and a high end graphic chipset to target higher end audience.

    1. Perhaps add a fourth ‘mode’ open greater than 180 degrees.
      Then, with it standing on the ‘open’ edge, and a dual channel
      graphic’s chipset (which some netbooks have) – you could have
      ‘interactive’ teacher-student; or kid-kid; applications.

      Anything from two person board games (mine sweeper?) to
      your final exam in a class.

  3. YES! I would. If this provides a reasonable e-reader, pixel-qi sunlight readable and power efficient touchscreen, light weight and long battery life, at a reasonable price point I can think of three additional uses besides 3rd world children.
    1. Nice gadget (actually more than that, perhaps replacing my NC10) for me.
    2. Nice for my two daughters (and other 1st world kids).
    2. Nice tool to use for student teachers – with some smart observation software installed, as a research device for professional development (1st to 3rd world teachers, young and old?). I’m working in teacher education….But seriously, something that would help teachers improve themselves would also benefit children (at least those with access to some form of education).

  4. It is an interesting design concept.
    Interesting != Practical ; so I only score it: “Interesting”

  5. Again, OLPC is an educational project, not a “laptop” or “any other gadget” project. Sure, they aim high (in one interview, Negroponte said if OLPC’s goal was real, he’d not do the project :D) – however, I think the 2.0 design is based on the very tough XO-1 feedback directly from the 3rd world kids. Negroponte pointed out once the kids were not collaborating via their XO-1s exactly the way the foundation expected – probably instead of sitting alone at their own XO, they were rather sharing the notebook among more of them to show and learn stuff together. I can imagine the intended 2.0 design will work much better for two (or more) kids sitting on the ground against each other and having the device between them…

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