One Laptop Per Child and manufacturing partner Marvell have announced their new XO-3, a ruggedized tablet meant to withstand the rigors of both vigorous children and the developing nations in which they'll be used. I'm digging both the integrated rubber border and the peelable elastomer screen cover, which flips around to cling to the back of the machine when it's in use.
Chief designer Yves Behar has released a design statement on the project:
After 6 years of design development with Nicholas Negroponte and the non-profit organization he founded, One Laptop Per Child, I am incredibly excited to share the next generation XO-3 tablet. More than 2.4 million children in 25 countries received the original XO Laptop, and these kids have been our inspiration to create the next generation of this educational tool.
One Laptop Per Child is a technology story about how to provide low-cost educational tools to millions of children. For those children, and for us, it is also a creative story about how to design specifically for young students. Every decision made by the OLPC engineering team and the design team at fuseproject has been about adapting technology to children's needs at a cost that makes the tablet affordable for developing countries.
The first impression of the XO-3 is its extreme simplicity. The focus is on the screen, while the surrounding green rubber border provides a safe tactile grip for children's hands. The back surface has a bumpy texture and integrates a rear-facing camera. The connectors, power switch and speakers are arranged on the bottom edge, facing the user.
The XO-3 tablet uses similar ruggedizing strategies as the original XO laptop: rubber protection, anti-scratch grip textures, and robust construction. The XO-3 goes takes this protection further by creating an elastomer removable cover, which is flipped from screen cover to back cover. The cover's arced front surface allows access to ports and buttons, and shields them during transportation to further preserve the hardware. Additionally, the solar cover option can house a solar panel combined with internal batteries for outdoor or indoor charging.
Our approach has been to minimize complexity, while delivering a high quality, and a heightened touch feel. There is playfulness in the way one can adapt the cover to different needs, while each design detail and material is chosen to deliver maximum value.
-Yves Behar, fuseproject founder and OLPC Chief Designer
By the bye, this does not mean OLPC will be abandoning their titular product; this March they'll begin shipping their XO 1.75 laptop to places like Uruguay and Nicaragua, with 75,000 units already ordered.