iSlate : Solar powered tablet PC!

You can have any innovative product developed anywhere in the world and we will find a use for it in India. Sometimes the way we use the product would be a revelation for the product innovators themselves. Umpteen text messages and ubiquitous missed calls are just two use cases. My post on 10 great Indian money-saving innovations is riddled with great innovations which are finding great uses in India. Almost all the innovations on that list are constraint based. If electricity is the problem then an innovation either has to generate electricity or use less or none of it. iSlate is a constraint based innovation which uses less power.

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iSlate is a solar powered tablet PC which uses very minimal power and runs on solar power for the most part. It is powered with power-stingy microchip and a touch screen. The unsubsidized cost is projected to be $20, which is much less than the $35 tablet PC.

Krishna Palem, a Rice University professor, is leading the efforts for iSlate. The prototype is developed at Institute of Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID) at NTU. iSlate’s prototype is sent for field testing to a village near Hyderabad. Students of Hussainpalli Government School are the early alpha testers for this device.

No. This is not yet another Android device. In fact the device doesn’t need an operating system. Not exactly but it runs a variant of Linux and the users don’t interact with the OS as it will be pre-loaded with the courseware. The slates are connected to any other external devices through USB ports and there is no Wi-Fi enabled. This is a pure education only device which should use the courseware on-board. The courseware is developed using Python and there is a possibility of Java programmed software to be installed on iSlates. iSlate can be used with a direct touch interface or a stylus.

Touch screens and Tablet PC’s are seeing a huge surge. It is as if the world has found an elixir for its computing problems. If Apple and Samsung are creating the market at the top-end of the spectrum, innovators like Palem and Negropante are creating a market at the lowest-possible end of the spectrum. And there is no dearth of devices at the middle of the spectrum. The tablet PC’s range is from $20 to $700. That is a wide range and a nightmare for the segmentation fanatics.

Just like the $35 tablet, I don’t expect this to be for retail consumption. This would be strictly academic. And that is good in a way. A very noble initiative and I hope iSlate reaches the intended audience.

[Image via gizmag]