- Maybe you all know about this already, but I didn't.
From their web page:
Bridging the Great Digital Divide
The Simputer is a low cost portable alternative to PCs, by which the
benefits of IT
can reach the common man.
It has a special role in the third world because it ensures that
illiteracy is no
longer a barrier to handling a computer.
The key to bridging the digital divide is to have shared devices that
simple and natural user interfaces based on sight, touch and audio.
The Simputer meets these demands through a browser for the
Information Markup Language (IML).
IML has been created to provide a uniform experience to users and to
allow rapid development of
solutions on any platform.
The projected cost of the Simputer is about Rs 9000 at large volumes.
But even this is beyond the
means of most citizens. The Smart Card feature that the Simputer
provides enables the Simputer to
be shared by a community.
A local community such as the village panchayat, the village school,
a kiosk, a village postman, or even
a shopkeeper should be able to loan the device to individuals for
some length of time and then pass it
on to others in the community. The Simputer, through its Smart Card
feature allows for personal
information management at the individual level for an unlimited
number of users.
The impact of this feature coupled with the rich connectivity of the
Simputer can be dramatic.
Applications in diverse sectors such as micro banking, large data
collection, agricultural information
and as a school laboratory is now made possible at an affordable price.
Rs 9000 (Indian Rupees) is less than $200 ($186.50 or so today).
Joseph Bergin, Professor
Pace University, Computer Science, One Pace Plaza, NY NY 10038
- from: http://globeandmail.workopolis.com/servlet/News/fasttrack/20010522/RVOLK
One of the key aspects of the Simputer is that it reads information aloud
in local languages to help even illiterate users tap the Internet.
There's another low-cost computer being developed in Brazil: the
"Computador Popular" (dubbed the "Volkscomputer" in Brazil) including
monitor, has an estimated price tag of $250. It is a no-frills appliance
whose sole purpose will be to connect to the Internet. It lacks a floppy
disk drive and a hard drive -- though users can add their own if they
choose. Its computer chip and modem are dated by the latest standards but
will suffice for the job at hand.
-- Ron --