Monday, 3 May 2010

OLPC Oceania - Team One Beep and the Microsoft Imagine Cup

Mitiaro High School Mitiaro, Cook Islands
 Imagine Cup NZ  winners hooks into OLPC
Monday morning just got a whole lot more interesting courtesy of this three leg story which connects a remote island school in the Cook Islands and their One Laptop Per Child, OLPC,  project with Auckland University engineering students and Microsoft New Zealand.

First up the Auckland University engineering students. Known as Team One Beep, they are  the winning team at last Fridays Microsoft NZ Imagine Cup, who now go onto the worldwide final in Poland in June - with more on that, here

Team One Beep
The Team One Beep,project,  in a lovely twist, deliberately focuses on the One Laptop Per Child programme and its 1.4 million deployed laptops,

Their software solution packages a file of educational data as audio to be sent via radio waves. This can be received on any cheap AM/FM radio which passes it on to the laptop. The file is then converted back to its original form once it has been received on the childrens' laptops, ready to be viewed.

AM/FM Radio? For sure, sounds a little esoteric in the age of digital. But that's the point - by stripping it down to transport over radio frequencies, it allows text, and hopefully soon, audio/video and eventually code to be picked up by any old radio and then onto a OLPC mesh.


Mitiaro, Cook Islands
And so to the photo above and the Cook Islands. The kids in the photo are from Mitiaro High School. Mitiaro is a small remote island in the Cook Islands, which in turn sits bang in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. The OLPC Oceania project is working with 17 island countries, including the Cook Islands and these guys are one of the latest schools to get with the programme.

And yes its more than interesting to see Microsoft NZ getting behind an open source programme like OLPC, although it should be noted that according to the OLPC Road map, the OX 1.5. will run both Linux and Windows. Haven t seen this in action yet - but hopefully soon.

Sources
In any event - not a bad Monday morning story - more  on the Imagine Cup end from Computerworld, here . OLPC Oceania blog is here.  And for balance, a  bit of a step back and re-think on the OLPC roadmap  is here.

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Lastly, I just asked myself, would I rather go and visit Poland for the final, or Mitiaro? Answer, Mitiaro any time. You have no idea how blessed the welcome is in Pasifika.

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