About 100 million Indian children do not have electricity in their schools. Of course, this means they are without computers, too. However, this may soon be changing.
“Students in rural Indian villages are now in the process of testing the I-Slate, a solar-powered tablet PC developed by Rice University and Singapore’s Nanyang Tech University,” CalFinder Solar reports.
The I-slate is the brainchild of Rice University’s Krishna Palem and is reportedly “the first of a series of electronic notepads being built around a new class of low-energy-consumption microchips that use a fraction of the electricity of today’s computer chips.” Along with Rice University, this technology and project is being worked on by researchers at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Indian non-profit Villages for Development and Learning Foundation (ViDAL), and Switzerland’s Center for Electronics and Microtechnology.
The I-slate is expected to be able to run on the solar power of panels similar to those in hand-held calculators due to these new microchips.
Testing Out the I-Slate in Indian Schools
So far, Indian schoolchildren (mostly age 10-13) in a school near Hyderabad have tried out early prototypes of this technology.
Most of these children never saw a computer or video game before, but they were apparently very curious and eager to learn about and use the technology.
“Children in Indian village schools are just like their peers anywhere in the world: eager to learn, tech savvy, and willing to try new pedagogical tools that engage their creative minds,” says Rajeswari Pingali, ViDAL president.
“They immediately picked up on the technology,” says Rice undergraduate Lauren Pemberton. “They clearly didn’t like some of the things we expected to work really well, like the button placement, but they loved the scratch-pad application which was added at the last minute.”
Such a technology would, of course, do wonders to improve India’s economic advancement.
“President Obama’s visit to India this week highlights Indian economic achievements, but India’s full economic potential will only be realized with sustainable, low-cost technologies that benefit all segments of the population,” says Palem.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) apparently has faith in the technology. In 2009, it was one of seven technologies the IEEE believed would “have world-changing implications on the way humans interact with machines, the world and each other” in the years to come.
Looks like a fun project and one that could do much for India and other low-income countries.
Photo Credit: TG Daily