Access to computer education could be revolutionised by a sustainable energy approach to personal computing.

Rice University has adopted a high-tech, sustainable energy solution to the problem of how to bring computing to the 100 million Indian school children who are without electricity. They have designed the I-Slate tablet PC which incorporates revolutionary microchips that require a fraction of the power currently required of computers. This advance will enable the I-Slate to be powered by solar panels of a similar power to those found in hand held calculators.

The prototype is currently being tested by groups of school children aged 10 – 13, many of whom had never seen or used a computer before. In addition to representing a groundbreaking educational initiative, this project may also signal a moment where an emergent technology–in this case the tablet–leapfrogs over traditional personal computing platforms, the same way that the use of cellphones did across the African continent.

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