Intel builds $400 laptop for school desks worldwide

CEO Paul Otellini touts access to PCs in an educational setting as one way to improve conditions in developing countries.

AUSTIN, Texas--Intel unveiled its notebook for schools in developing countries on Wednesday, with CEO Paul Otellini calling on governments to spread technology's reach around the world.

Otellini demonstrated an Intel-developed teaching application on the Eduwise notebook here the World Congress on Information Technology, a biennial event taking place this week. The company hopes to launch the laptop for less than $400 by the first quarter of next year.

The CEO reiterated Intel's commitment to developing products that will help close the technology gap between rich nations and poor ones, one day after it announced plans to invest $1 billion in education and training as part of its World Ahead program.

WCIT conference

"No one wants to cross the digital divide using yesterday's technology," Otellini said.

The Eduwise laptop joins low-cost PC projects such as Advanced Micro Devices' Personal Internet Communicator and MIT's Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child program.

Otellini showed off a wooden prototype of the notebook earlier this year at a conference in Brazil, and he noted Wednesday that it was the result of work by design offices in countries such as Brazil, India and China, which were set up by Intel. The Eduwise uses flash memory instead of a hard drive and runs Microsoft Windows XP.

In addition, Intel has developed an application that enables teachers to monitor how and when students are using the Internet in a networked classroom. For example, a teacher could click a button on his or her console that starts a presentation with video on the Eduwise laptops. Students could move through the presentation at their own pace and access the Internet if they wanted to learn more about something contained in the presentation. The teachers can see where students are in the presentation and what Web sites the student is visiting--and can pull them back from checking sports scores or chatting with friends online.

Otellini demonstrated the Eduwise during a keynote speech at WCIT, a gathering of about 4,500 people from around the world, including company executives, government officials and teachers. About 2,000 of them are delegates who will vote on proposals to improve access to technology and to streamline health care services while ensuring privacy and security.

Otellini was preceded on stage by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who reiterated the software maker's commitment to the developing world, but didn't announce any new projects or initiatives.

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