OTPC tablets (NEXT)
We all know about One Tablet Per Child (OTPC) project to accelerate learning of primary school children with computing devices. OTPC was abandoned half way through distribution process before acquisition process was completed. A number of supporting projects were left dangling unfinished. There was no official enquiry or review to asceertain the cause of failure and to quantify the loss of investment.
(Picture source: http://www.darun.ac.th/newWEB/ronphibun/reviewOTPC.html)
What happened to OTPC tablets now? Some 86,000 (of 1.6 millions estimated) tablets had been distributed to primary students in some schools. (I do not have detail of the distribution) Are these tablets still being used? By whom and how? (OTPC tablets are to be allocated to students for 3 years then to be returned.) If they are not being gainfully used now or when they are returned in about 1 year time, what then can we use them for? Eventhough they are not very powerful nor capable by todays standard, they have computation power and communication abilities useful for adding values to learning, wellbeing and empowering communities. If we can find ways to use 86,000 computers!
OTPC tablet specifications:
ARM CPU 1.2 Ghz (dual or quad?)
512 MB RAM
8GB internal Storage (sdcard0)
1024x600 capacitive 7" touch screen
WiFi (what level? 900/2400Mhz?)
2MP Camera (front; video 640x480)
MicroSD slot (for external sdcard1)
microUSB slot (for charging & data)
Android 4.0.3 (...) OS bundle including web browser, multimedia players, system updater, human interface,...
(At distribution the tablets were loaded with educational apps: ...)
Updating hardware in tablets is quite difficult and not cost effective. However apps can be selected and/or developed to optimize performance at the hardware level.
Wifi communication is limited by broadband services available. The Internet services in major cities and communication hubs are quite good.
With the general knowledge of OTPC, we now set forth to find ways to make more gainfully use of 86,000 tablets. Afterall they are bought with our tax money. They are people's national resource. They should not be wasted despite their colourful acquisition. We will concern ourselves with using this resource to further our national and community goals.
I have some small projects in mind. They are outlined below. But I want to hear from you -- who are more in touch with the current needs and urgency of services to the public. It is a national duty to serve people. Whe we use under-used resources to serve people we them in more than one.
It is not a folly to think of ways and things we can do with 86,000 tablets. Your ideas may be realized with some help from others from all walks of life: experts, retirees, professionals and amateaurs. We don't know where we can go from here, but I do know the journey can change our lives for the better.
Examples of Projects:
1) Public information media tool: - tablets can be allocated to community libraries for public use such as ebook readers, email, Internet and other social activities. Tablets can be used in classes for elderly to adopt modern technologies for their quality of life.
Libraries also need to develop and provide modern information services. Tablets can provide start-up tools.
2) Ad hoc network for emergency: - tablets can be connected into a network via Wifi and specific apps. The network is used for communication in areas of and surrounding emergency situation. Information, warnings and safety directives can be broadcast to impacted people via nearby tablets.
Though, commercial networks can be constrained to work in localized areas, willingness and initiation for emergency network are less likely to be promptly responsive. Localization of warnings and directives to only the impacted areas can be difficult for networks configured for nationwide services. Ad hoc networks however can be started on demand and constrained by strength of Wifi devices. Localization is simpler to achieve.
3) Mass public data collection: - data demands are high for effective and efficient management in government and local administration. Tablets can be used as data collection devices in some data collection networks or systems.
Certain 'census' (demographic, medical, employment,...) data on ad hoc or continuous bases; data for local water levels, uncollected wastes, pollutants, fires, traffic, sightings of species, and so on can be collected with the help of tablet holders and data collection apps.
e-forms and many government services may be delivered through apps on tablets provided that privacy and security concerns are properly addressed.
Other research projects such as tablets supercomputing network, software agents network, and artificial intelligence network may be experimented with tablets. With 86,000 tablets to experiment with and test hypotheses, many advanced and innovative technologies may emerge.
A national call for projects using these tablets may be a good stimulus for advancing research and development in education and home-grown industries.