Dean Kamen Urges Innovators To Help Solve The World’s Problems

From Cnet:

Kamen gave a talk at the Lux Executive Summit here about science and innovation. But he had a clear ulterior motive: convince a room full of technologists to address the “chilling” need for more scientists and engineers to solve the world’s worsening problems.

Kamen said that addressing the basic needs–such as water and power–of the very poorest people would prevent millions of deaths a year and make a huge impact on environmental problems. He said 1.1 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water and 1.6 billion lack access to electricity.

He talks about a few interesting examples in the article, which you can read here.

Google Invests In Satellites To Help Bridge Digital Divide

This one is filed under digital divide:

O3b’s service should be activated by late 2010 and provide speeds of up to 10G bps (bits per second) to other areas including Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. O3b plans to launch 16 MEO satellites, which can send data anywhere between a 45-degree angle north to a 45-degree angle south of their orbits. The lifespan of a MEO is about 10 years to 15 years.

Link to NY Times.

OLPC Makes It To India

It was a disappointment when India didn’t show any interest in the OLPC, but it looks like the non-profit has made considerable progress in the country with some local help:

Two years later, Negroponte is back to open a new office in New Delhi and launch the OLPC program in India on Aug. 4. Despite all the rebuffs, Negroponte’s urge to sell in India is stronger than ever. “India is the largest market for us, and I had to be here,” he says. More important, Negroponte has a new partner—one of India’s politically influential private-sector conglomerates. The Digital Bridge Foundation, part of Reliance ADA Group, owned by Indian billionaire Anil Ambani, is providing the technology backbone and logistics for the installation of OLPC’s white and green XO laptops in primary schools.

Using “White Space” Airwaves To Address The Digital Divide

An article from Washington Post about a handful of tech companies, including Google, that want to use white space airwaves to provide broadband to rural areas.

Engineers from the technology heavyweights, including Motorola and Philips, lugged their laptops, antennas and other equipment to parks, homes and high-rises around the Washington area, hoping to prove to the Federal Communications Commission that the unlicensed airwaves between television stations, known as white spaces, could provide a new form of mobile Internet service.

Using white spaces “will provide a way to provide broadband across long distances at much faster speeds than cellphone networks and WiFi,” said Jake Ward, spokesman for the Wireless Innovation Alliance, which includes Google, Microsoft, HP and Dell. The group is trying to convince regulators that using the airwaves will provide broadband to rural schools, beam high-definition online video to low-income households and let consumers stream music while sitting in highway traffic.

Microsoft Plans To Join OLPC

There’s been lots of drama with OLPC but hopefully the non-profit can work through it and make some progress with their new partner Microsoft:

The alliance between Microsoft and O.L.P.C. comes after long stretches of antagonism, punctuated by occasional talks, between the two sides. Mr. Negroponte, a former computer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a new media pioneer, said he first talked to Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, three years ago.


Classmate PC To Begin Selling In US And Europe

Link to

Intel plans on expanding the distribution of its inexpensive, school children-friendly Classmate PC to U.S. and European retail outlets, according to a Reuters report on Wednesday.

The Classmate will sell for $250 to $350, Lila Ibrahim, general manager of Intel’s emerging market platform group, told Reuters. Apparently Intel has already been conducting pilot programs using the devices in classrooms in the U.S. and Australia. Provides Guidance

DotOrg officials said they had decided to spend the money on five initiatives: disease and disaster prevention; improving the flow of information to hold governments accountable in community services; helping small and medium-size enterprises; developing renewable energy sources that are cheaper than coal; and investing in the commercialization of plug-in vehicles.

Link to NYTimes article

A Step Back For OLPC- Intel Pulls Out

According to the Wall Street Journal, Intel has pulled out of the One Laptop Per Child partnership, citing disagreements with founder Negroponte.

“We’ve reached a philosophical impasse with OLPC,” Mr. Mulloy said. He added that Mr. Negroponte had demanded that Intel stop selling its own-designed laptop, known as the Classmate, in developing countries and stop supplying its chips to other laptops marketed to schoolchildren in those countries.

“We can’t accommodate that request,” Mr. Mulloy said.

This is unfortunate, however, AMD, which is the current supplier, is capable enough of handling the requirements here. It’s been really hard for OLPC to solidify orders for the low cost PC, and it needs more demand so it can scale to drive down costs. I believe part of the motivation for Negroponte to be the sole supplier of these low costs PCs stems from that.

T-Mobile Helps OLPC

T-Mobile is participating in a pretty neat marketing program for the OLPC where if you participate in the buy one give one program, T-mobile will give you a year’s worth of their hotspot service for free.

“T-Mobile believes in helping people stay connected to those who matter most in their lives. The Give One Get One program delivers on our unmistakable commitment to enhancing personal relationships,” said Joe Sims, vice president and general manager for Broadband Services, T-Mobile USA. “We are excited and proud to partner with One Laptop per Child, and are hopeful that our contribution will not only encourage other people to participate, but also make a positive difference.”

New Developments for OLPC and Intel’s Classmate PC

Here are some important updates on what’s going on with the OLPC and the Classmate PC. First, it looks like Nigeria has selected Classmate PCs running Linux for a nationwide pilot in their country. The article (via slashdot), offered by the linux company supplying the operating system, discusses how 17,000 computers will be provided in Nigeria.

Mandriva today announced that the Nigerian government has selected Intel-powered classmate PCs running on Mandriva Linux for educational use in nationwide pilot in Nigeria. Mandriva is working with Intel Corporation and Technology Support Center Ltd. to provide 17,000 Intel-powered classmate PC. The aim of this project is to improve the quality of technology delivered to students, and to help teachers and parents.

What’s OLPC up to? No updates on big wins like this but Microsoft did announce that they will be building an operating system for the OLPC. Negroponte is fine with this, as he wants to promote the open source spirit with the project.

While the news that Microsoft is developing a version of Windows for the so-called “$100 laptop” has caused some consternation, One Laptop Per Child Chairman Nicholas Negroponte has said the project could not promote openness if it blocked Windows.