One Laptop Per Child Wins Award

Loraine Lawson

Did you know that 99 percent of children in the developing world leave school without ever touching a computer?


I didn't. But it helps explain why the XO Laptop -- the $175 computer that will be used in the One Laptop Per Child program -- won the 2007 Index Community Award.


Denmark public and private companies began the INDEX prize, which awards in five categories, in 2005 to recognize design that looks good, but more importantly, improves the lives of people all over the world. Winners in each category are awarded �100 000. That's about $136,000, according to MSNBC.


The awards committee apparently was impressed by the XO's design -- and why not? It's not only cheap, it's child-friendly. The XO laptop, according to the Index site, is sunlight-readable and shock- and moisture-resistant -- all requirements for a computer destined to be used in places where classes are often taught outside. It's lighter than a lunch box -- I assume they mean the old metal ones -- and about the size of your typical textbook. What's more, it can be operated using a hand crank, pedal or a pull cord -- which is good, considering recent tests yielding an unimpressive battery life.


It also makes networking easy. A mobile ad-hoc network means many machines can connect to the Internet from one connection. There's also a maze-network that connects all XO Laptops within reach.


The team plans to give the prize money to the Massachusetts-based One Laptop Per Child program.


Here are the other winners, by category:


Work: The Tongue Sucker, designed by four industrial design engineers from the Imperial College and the Royal College of Art in the UK. It is a device that allows untrained bystanders to easily open the airway of an unconscious person.


Body: Mobility for Each One won for designing a prosthetic foot for land mine victims that can be made for as little as $8 in developing countries.


Home : The "Solar Bottle," which uses sunlight to disinfect water. According to the INDEX site, a sixth of the world's population does not have access to safe drinking water and is exposed to waterborne diseases such as cholera and Hepatitis A.


Play: The Tesla Roadster electric sports car, which produces zero emissions but accelerates from zero-to-sixty in four seconds. Nice.


The People's Choice Award: The Antivirus, which is a cap that can be placed on soda cans to isolate used needles -- and eliminate re-use of needles. It's designed for use in low-income countries. As a young girl, designer H�n Pham received a vaccination with an infectious needle in a Singaporean refugee camp. That experience left her ill for a long time and inspired the creation of the Antivirus.

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