In its noble mission to bring technology access to every child, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is planning a bizarre distribution tactic: XO-3 tablets will be airdropped into remote areas for kids to just pick up and start using, without instructions or people to guide them.
Speaking at the Open Mobile Summit yesterday, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte revealed that the group will "literally take tablets and drop them out of helicopters."
OLPC designed the 10-inch XO-3 tablet to be child-friendly. The tablet sports a Pixel Qi hybrid screen for both e-ink reading mode and a normal LCD for video, and will come preloaded with one hundred books. Apparently the tablet will also be able to survive a 30-foot drop and can be left out in the rain.
The XO-3 is inexpensive--projected to cost under $100--but hurling them out of a helicopter still seems a bit extreme.
Negroponte's approach suggests his confidence that the XO-3 is easy enough to use for children to just pick up without any instruction at all. He cited a previous "hole in the wall" experiment supporting this hands-off approach to teaching children computer literacy. OLPC will check back in a year to see how the program's airdrop plan worked.
Worst-case scenario? "Maybe an older brother will get a hold of it, use it for pornography--that's life."
As I said, bizarre.