Saturday, November 8, 2008

Courtship Difficulties

Long overdue note, but here's a recap on our progress over the past few months (focused on lesson plan development and pilot deployment).

Thanks to the efforts of our Berkeley students we were able to refine our initial lesson plan to create a structured lesson with background materials suitable for instructors and students of all ages. Though not translated for the various pilot countries, our matured bundle positions our effort well for rapid transition to any of our targeted pilot groups. Our difficulties mainly lie in the wavering support within each of the remote ecosystems. Here's a synopsis of our communication thus far:

OLPC Thailand
Our main POC has been "Roger" Arnan who has taken the lead on the coordination efforts among Thailand's 4 pilot projects. On the other hand, NECTEC, the former local tech support team, has lost some interest due to the loss of government fiscal support. Roger has been very supportive of our effort and enthusiastic towards the receipt of prototype samples; however, limited remote tech support has created the need for new partners. Roger is currently investigating the availability of students at Chang Mai University to help us with prototype assembly. In the near-term, we'll look to build 4 prototype samples for distribution and work with a few of our dedicated volunteers to translate an abbreviated 3-page lesson to Thai.

OLPC India
Arjun was kind enough to introduce me to Satish Jha, the new head of OLPC India's effort. There seems to be quite a bit of activity on their list-serv, but the remote team has been primarily focused on the infrastructure rather than content development. Initial communication with Satish broke down after a few initial e-mails, but I'll try again shortly to setup a Skype discussion.

Oscar Becerra, a former IBM Peru top executive, has taken the lead of the Peru effort which currently commands about 150,000 XO laptops (and 140,000 more by the end of the year). Similar to India, they have been battling infrastructure and policy issues. I have been very interested, but have been unable to get reports of the first-hand experience of Peru children in spite of the overwhelming support of the Peruvian Ministry of Education. I received an initial inquiry from Oscar during the summer, but I have not been able to follow-up with a one-on-one discussion until recently.

Our near-term goal is to build 10 prototypes, along with our software build and lesson plan, for distribution to these three target pilot groups. It would be great if we could get these out before Christmas and make it our special Holiday gift for the children.

In order to further explore the clinical applications of our peripherals I've reached out to various health care non-profit organizations. In particular, I've contacted Ellen Ball of Boston-based Partners in Health. Our specific intent is the identification of a clinical partner who has focused on environmental hazards re: air pollution. Unfortunately PiH has not dealt with these concerns as highlighted in Ellen's response below:
"Most of our hospital/clinics are in rural areas (Haiti, Rwanda, Siberia, Lesotho, Malawi). The exception is Lima, Peru which has a pollution problem. But we deal with infectious disease – MDR-TB and HIV."
I'll continue my efforts to identify a suitable partner who would kick-start a Youth Venture project in Thailand. If anyone happens to have established relationships with organizations dealing with asthma-related issues, please contact us.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


OLPC@Duke contributor, Alex Keybl, organized The OLPC Grassroots Web Conference "GrassCon" to increase communication between grassroots projects, as well as increase the general visibility of OLPC projects around the world. The projects that presented ranged from software/hardware development to pilot programs and public awareness campaigns. The conference was held on July 19th but a conflict barred me from participating live. As a result I submitted a 5 minute presentation to report our efforts. Overall feedback was positive but few pilot coordinators participated so there was little opportunity to get specific feedback on ways to integrate independent activities into their pilot programs. In any case, the video serves as a quick presentation of our mission.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Marin Middle School Demo

Here's a few photos from the day's lessons.

Thanks again to Kassie for getting involved with us.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bay Area Pilot

On May 29, our lesson plan was delivered to 7th grade students at Marin County Middle School through two one-hour classes of 15 students each. It was the last day of a three day lesson plan that was kicked off by Kassie. Overall the lesson was well received, and I tried to insert as much adjacent application (Lie Detector) and pop culture (Wii Fit) references to maintain the students' attention and explain the phenomena.

I led the day's lesson with the IR prototype and introduced the plethysmograph concept by relating it to childhood curiousity of covering the flashlight with a hand. I also digressed and talked about communications applications for IR. The IR prototype lacked an enclosure, so the readings were susceptible to motion artifacts which was an excellent lead into the the high fidelity ECG approach. While students were hooked up to the ECG circuit, the valsava maneuver was an excellent way to demonstrate the physiological effects. The students were really captivated by the signal activity and were exploring ways to induce a higher heart rate such as embarrassment. Here the lie detector concept hooked the entire class; however, it led to a few inappropriate and personal questions but we're dealing with 7th graders after all =)

Worksheets were used the previous day for the manual pulse-feel exercises. This would be a good idea for the devices introduction if more prototypes and XOs were available for the class. For the day we only had 2 ECG prototypes, 1IR prototype, and 2 XOs which was sufficient for explanation purposes but not enough to allow everyone an opportunity to get hands-on with the devices.

We'll be releasing the IR circuit schematic with a BOM soon for those interested in incorporating some biofeedback into their XO/Sugar applications.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

IR Plethysmograph

Plethysmograph is an infrared photoelectric sensor used to record changes in pulsatile blood flow from the finger. The Plethysmograph operates by recording changes in blood volume as the arterial pulse expands and contracts the microvasculature.
This circuit will provide an alternative method to visualize pulse rate for the children and remove the complications of electrode application. An enclosure will be made to help deliver a consistent view of the pulse rate and remove any motion artifacts that might be visible. The ideal enclosure could be as simple as a clothes pin. The following video also demonstrates our latest working beat detection method displaying the heart rate.

Video Demo:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ECG Prototype 2

Jake delivered a new prototype with an enclosure to support our Bay Area deployment. I've checked out the latest hardware and have modified the heart rate method to correctly perform beat detection with a normal/positive QRS waveform.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bay Area Pilot

Luckily a Marin County Middle School teacher has contacted us to participate in our very first launch of our prototype . Kassie Petrick has graciously offered us her support in the development of a lesson plan incorporating our biomedical prototypes. The lesson plan will begin with a basic introduction to the human body and then lead into a history lesson on the discovery of "vital signs". Afterwards, students will participate in manual exercises of pulse monitoring (via stethoscope and wrist/neck) and then an explanation of "lub-dub" will follow to describe the anatomy of the heart. Finally an electrical perspective of the heart's contraction will provide background for the autonomous methods ECG and Pulse Monitor (Plethysmograph) circuits. The lesson plan will be delivered to Kassie's 7th and 8th grade students and I'll be present to assist as well as monitor the kids' reception of the activity/capability. Hopefully a few students would be interested in pursuing developing a science project/health related project around this peripheral. The XO chapter of the lesson plan will be delivered on May 29th.

Lesson plan to be posted on our Google groups:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

ECG Prototype 1

Jake delivered the ECG prototype 1 supported by alternative power sources (9V battery and USB). Leveraging the Measure code with a few tweaks we've fixed sampling at 4 kHz and down-sampled effectively to 500 Hz. With a buffer depth of 1100 samples only ~2 seconds worth of a beat signature is saved thus giving us an unstable beat rate. If we extend the signature to 10 seconds worth we should be able to get more stability, so we'll need to decouple the drawWaveform buffer from the buffer used for beat detection.

Nevertheless, we've delivered the first ECG prototype for the XO which will hopefully serve to gain more interest for the XO's health-related applications.

Our Demo Video

OLPC Case Study

HBS professor John Quelch completes case study on the OLPC platform.
There is also a class scheduled for Spring 2008 addressing the marketing aspects of the campaign.

Partnership Kick-off

First Meeting with Phonchan aka "Newey", Director of Youth Venture
Jake and I had a one hour meeting via Skype to gain a better understanding of Youth Venture's project selection cycle, funding limitations, and schools that have established relationships with YV. So here are the details and logistics...

Target Age: 14-24.
Youth Venture provides youth with an initial start-up financial investment (up to 50,000 Baht or ~$1400 USD)
Support in all phases of the development and implementation of their social ventures:

  • Outreach/Marketing - Posters/Brochures, PR mass-media campaign and through CSO
  • Project Development - Online/Offline supports help youth develop ideas into Venture plans
  • Selection Panel - Panelists evaluate Venture plans
  • Venture Launch - Teams launch and receive seed funding, orientation, tools and consultancy support
  • Capacity Building - Series of workshops offered from marketing to sustainability and project management
  • Evaluation/Lesson-Learn - Evaluation and lesson learning workshop offered to help sustain/grow Venture
  • Fellowship/Movement - Venture teams are connected through local and global events and the website.

Current project selection phase ends late January 2008.
Chosen theme for 2008 is the Environment, although another general template will be constructed for all other focuses. Newey is interested in a demonstration of our capabilities which is a bit challenging due to our lack of XOs. I'll look into the possibility of DSIL supporting this demo with their XO lot.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Initial Project Development Thoughts

First pilot program established under DSIL/Supsattana foundation. In March 2007, 30 XOs were given to a school in Samkha village located in the suburbs of northern Thailand. In this particular pilot, general feedback was provided from their basic interactions with Sugar and a few of the applications. Ban Samkha's challenge will be the structure of a constructionist curriculum that can integrate the XO effectively.

Two pilot programs initiated under the support of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. As per the Princess's request, 100 XOs were deployed to two non-constructionist schools in Nakhon Nayok (suburbs of Bangkok). Students from Grades 4 and 5 participated and discussion of out-of-classroom activities began. Instructors and students would like to study the conditions of their local rivers.

Both sites would be excellent candidates to launch our preliminary prototypes. The primary focus on these pilots would be education rather than social impact. Given the age range of these pilots it would be a steep learning curve, but we can re-evaluate the situation once the children vest their interests.

Bangkok - Ashoka Youth Venture
A partnership with Ashoka could provide an excellent opportunity to see the merits of the XO platform with an older student group. Also with Youth Venture's focus on youth and the community we can inspire youth to think about entrepreneurship in the context of creating social benefit. With the XO's mobility and intuitive interfaces, we can create a level playing field, both an easy ability to access the environment and low barriers to participation. Access which is a key element of the OLPC project meshes resonates well with the goals of Youth Venture. Ashoka also has a wealth of Fellow mentorship resources, specifically in the field of Health.

"Health Ashoka Fellows will not be the scientists seeking cures in the laboratories, or
even the clinical practitioners seeking to deliver inoculations and care. Rather, Ashoka Fellows will identify and develop low-cost yet high-impact strategies to deliver health care, educate populations to prevent the spread of disease, and incorporate into society populations previously excluded by the shame associated with their disability. The overlap between poverty and poor public health is well-established. Many Ashoka Fellows have not only recognized that their region cannot afford an individual-care models, but have launched alternative models of self- and community-care."
Youth Venture has a structured process that includes project selection panels, seed funding allocations, continual fellow mentorship, and workshops for the youth. We must initiate discussions with the Health fellows and perform some needs assessments to develop specific applications that can address some of the health-related issues.

We also need to identify a local school partner to introduce our activity and get preliminary Human Computer Interaction feedback.

Monday, March 10, 2008


... Thank Goodness for G1G1.
My co-worker donated his G1G1 laptop for our HW development efforts. Big thanks to M. Koop for his generosity.

G1G1 Playtime: Setup network. Constructed sample probes for Mic input to investigate Measure activity's fidelity. Setup root and OLPC user passwords. Mounted USB drive.
Peripheral Development: Gary is re-creating an old Pulse Oximetry circuit. Jake has completed his 9V prototype. All final prototypes will be driven with the 5V 500mA source from the left USB port. Currently all parts procurement is covered by our generosity, but I will investigate alternate sources of funding (donations?) that does not involve filing for 501C3 tax-exempt status.
Lab Access: As recruitment efforts gain more traction on the Berkeley and Stanford campus, we hope to gain more access to HW development labs with new membership. Our current lab has restricted access which bars everyone but Gary and myself from contributing to the effort in the Bay Area.

"Sugar" Learning Curve

We've submitted applications for the official Developer's Program to receive a few machines, but the lead time is unknown. It seems there are a few issues with power management and battery life on the latest factory builds that have tied up the Cambridge team. While hardware development relies heavily on a quick response, back-end GUI development will have to rely on the Sugar Emulation in the interim.

Emulation setup: I've installed QEMU with the latest image. Jake installed the Sugar build on Ubuntu. We've both had no problems in the installation process. I've also collected all the necessary utilities and libraries to create a Developer's Tools CD for distribution to Gary and others. For ease, I've incorporated a few batch scripts to simplify the installation and run process. Hopefully this lowers the learning curve for environment setup and brings people quicker into development.

Python and GUI designer tutorials: With Alex Keybl's permission, I'd like to distribute his powerpoint tutorials to other team members that are not as familiar with Python. My familiarity with Perl has helped me out with Python but there's still much needed time to be spent getting familiar with all of the GTK libraries. I usually love to leverage GUI designers like NetBeans back in the Swing days but I've already developed a hate for Glade. I'll enclose Glade tutorials with the Tools CD but I'll still recommend brute-force construction for the time-being.

Hello World ECG: Our simple Hello World code for the ECG interface. I've constructed a little GUI and sugarized some Activity code to integrate one of Jake's beat detector methods. The code currently reads from dummy data files, but will soon be integrated with the ADC interface after our hardware development gains more traction.

Icon artwork courtesy of the wonderful Diane.

Other local SW-driven efforts: So far I've made contact with two other groups; Charles Merriam heads weekend Silicon Valley jam sessions and Sameer Verma heads an awareness group in San Francisco. I'll need to follow-up with them later to see if they'd like to get involved and understand their current objectives.

OLPC Thailand

So why choose OLPC Thailand as the target for the health pilot? Due to my relationship with the Thai Physicians Association of America (TPAA), I have a few physician contacts throughout Thailand . Also, Thailand was one of the first countries to vest in OLPC pilot programs so they've established a pretty supportive ecosystem. Currently, there are 3 major working groups:

1. The policy team, led by Dr. Djitt Laowattana, as an advisor to the Minister of ICT, works on the government support system and budgetary provision

2. Lampang Province Non-Formal Education Department let by Dr.Suchin Phetcharak
3. DSIL is another coordinator involved in XO deployment

4. National Electronics and Computer Technology Center, NECTEC is the local tech contact point
5. King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, KMUTT is also assisting NECTEC
6. OLPC Cambridge offers basic deployment support

According to DSIL, this is how it all started...

DSIL, Darunsikkhalai School for Innovative Learning ( is a participant in the OLPC Thailand effort. It is a K-12 school, located in southwestern Bangkok on the main campus of a technology-focused university, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT). DSIL is based on the constructionist theory of learning (invented by Prof.Seymour Papert of MIT's Media Lab), which focuses on concepts such as learner-centered learning, project-based learning, learning-by-doing, which aim to develop the students into life-long learners. (More info on Constructionism here) There are three multi-age classes that periodically work on projects that extend over 10-week cycles.

The school was established in 2001 through funding by two major foundations: Suksapattana Foundation (started by MIT alums in Thailand) and Thaicom Foundation. Both founders of the school were also MIT alumni. One of the founders, Khun Paron Israsena, was the CEO of the Siam Cement Group and had a close relationship with MIT Media Lab. As a result, he was invited to participate in the OLPC effort by MIT Prof. Negroponte. Khun Paron then introduced Negroponte to ex-PM, Dr. Thaksin. After a few demos, Dr. Thaksin was very impressed and decided to join the effort. Pending the success of the pilot programs, Thaksin made the diplomatic promise that Thailand would buy the first lot of at least 250,000 units. At the time, Negroponte aimed to secure at least 4 million units sold since such volume would allow the XO to be sold at USD $100. Dr. Thanksin also reassured Negroponte that he could convince neighboring countries to buy; however, Thaksin's promises soon materialized after the coup-de-tat in December 2006. After the coup, the project was immediately rejected by the provisional military government due to Thaksin's affiliation despite the merits.

Despite these political barriers, there are 3 pilot programs in progress. DSIL distributed the first 30 units to one of its school-members in the northern part of Bangkok. Reports are occasionally fed back to Cambridge to alert them of any technical issues and to shape further application development.

More details later...

Links to OLPC Thailand:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Amplifier Design Challenges

There are two major constraints for designing an OLPC peripheral: cost and power. The laptop project has prescribed a $10 cap for all devices, and of course any design must be low power so as not to drain battery life. Right now I am designing the ECG amplifier for the XO, and I am at the stage where some decisions must be made regarding the trade-offs between performance and the cost and power constraints. The rest of this post consists of technical details, so read on only if you are interested in the engineering design aspects of the project.

The ECG will consist of an amplifier box with an output plug going to the microphone jack and a set of two or three reusable electrodes as inputs (electrodes are an important technical consideration that we will leave for another post). The ECG application will be an extension of an existing oscilloscope program which can visualize audio jack input. The box will have a separate jack for power supply, probably from the laptop USB port.

This design is in contrast to the other possibility of microcontroller-based device, which we felt presents too many challenges in power consumption and cost. However, we support the idea of different groups working simultaneously on different approaches to the problem, and would welcome discussion with other teams that share our overall goal.

Unless a separate power supply is designed, the USB port of the laptop is the most likely candidate. I knew that mic jacks supply a bias voltage, but a quick check confirmed that the voltage is too low and output resistance is way too high to think about using the bias to power a circuit.

The USB port provides 5V at a maximum of 1 amp (over all ports). Of course we want to minimize the power and so won't come close to that kind of supply current. The bigger question, though, is how (and whether) to split the supply for dual-supply op-amps. It is easy to split to +/- 2.5V with a voltage divider, but for highest CMR (common-mode rejection), the reference terminals on the instrumentation amp require low impedance, requiring an additional op-amp to buffer the new reference voltage. Although if sources of interference (i.e. 50/60 Hz power lines) are sparse or our signal processing is good then this might not be required. Single-supply op-amps can be used, but single-chip instrumentation amplifiers (discussed next) generally require a split supply.

Single-chip instrumentation amps (in-amps) are probably the best bet for cost, power and performance. These chips have a full 3 op-amp circuit inside, with a single external resistor setting the gain. All the resistor trimming is taken care of on the chip so component tolerance is not a big problem. The most common in-amp chip is the AD620, which provides a nice combination of cost, power consumption, and performance. However, I am looking at others, such as the INA126, which has 2 internal op-amps and is cheaper with comparable performance. Luckily they have the same pin-out and we can continue with the rest of the design independent of this choice.

Noise/interference suppression
Some additional modifications can be made to improve CMR, the primary example being a driven right leg (DRL) circuit. One op-amp can be used to tap the average of the two signal electrodes and drive the ground electrode with the inverse of this average. This is an effective way to subtract common-mode interference before it has the chance to be amplified. However, the question in this case is whether interference will be a huge problem in the environments the laptop is meant to be used. I am leaning toward including the DRL circuit, since it is hard to predict what the noise levels of the environment will be. This also applies to the question of whether to buffer the split supply, mentioned above. Again my inkling is yes on this as well.

Second stage
Is it necessary to provide a second stage of amplification? The best performance can be had using a low gain on the in-amp chip, then adding a high gain second stage after the signal is high-pass filtered. However, the mic jack provides a coupling capacitor and the audio card has up to 30dB of preamplification on the mic input, so this might be an opportunity to cut costs and let the laptop do the work, freeing up money and board space for better noise performance.

These are only a few general questions for now. In the future we will have more technical details on this as well as electrode design, modularity of the system, and software interface.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Who are we?

You might be curious about who we are and how exactly our backgrounds fit within the mesh. So here's a little background on the Snake and I that was taken directly from our OLPC Developer Program applications:

I obtained my Bachelors and Masters degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Much of my coursework focused on VLSI and Computer Architecture, but I am very familiar with Embedded HW and DSP applications through coursework, academic projects and professional experiences. My embedded breadth stretches from the low-level development of a light-weight RTOS on an XScale/ARM platform to an encrypted VoIP system on an Altera FPGA platform. My prototyping skills were also applied as a consultant to an educational NPO, Pittsburgh Voyager, where I architected hand-held device applications that collaborated students' data with databases on-board the vessel and on-shore.

In industry, I worked at Medtronic in their Cardiac Rhythm Management group. During my time at Medtronic, I worked on the migration of Heart Failure SW algorithms to ASICs as well as the power optimization of their Telemetry sub-systems. I also worked on the development of their Carelink Monitor firmware, which enabled clinicians to manage their patients' chronic illnesses remotely. I currently work in the aerospace industry on image processing R&D for tracking and discrimination. These DSP platforms range from custom-RISC processors to PowerPC cores. While my DSP background keeps me tight with various assembly languages, I am also proficient in C/C++/Java/Perl/MATLAB and have some familiarity with Python.

I obtained Bachelors degrees in both Electrical and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. There I was mentored by Prof. John Webster, a well-known expert in bioinstrumentation, both in classes and in several engineering design projects including a portable electroencephalograph, portable voice amplifier, and mosquito bite vibration sensor. My EE classes at UW focused on signal processing and circuit design. During my time at Wisconsin I also worked as a technician in the Chemistry Dept. electronics shop, where I learned practical skills in design, prototyping, and repair of instruments.

I am currently in my final year as a PhD in Bioengineering at the Univ. of California, San Diego. My thesis project, written entirely in Python, required me to build a software platform for automated measurement of heart function in adult fruitflies, including hardware interface (video, robotic stage, temperature and oxygen sensors). Design of this software required low-level memory management, threading, and GUI design. I am also proficient in data analysis languages (Matlab, IDL, R), and have some familiarity with Java, C, and Perl from some bioinformatics work over the course of my research.

Who would've thought 4 years after our days at Medtronic that we would be collaborating again.

Although a tech background would be most applicable, we invite all who share the passion to join us. Our primary efforts lie in the front-end development, but there are many areas we have not even begun to address, such as program awareness, possible fundraising. If you are interested at all, send us a brief description of your HW/SW experience as well as areas in which you'd like to contribute.

Any other questions? Shoot us an email.

Friday, February 8, 2008

OLPC Golden State Mission

First off, I'd like to say thanks to everyone I've contacted. This is my first global effort, so I'd like to thank all those who have supported calls and Skype sessions with me. Everyone was extremely patient in helping me to understand their organizational infrastructure and vision:

Habib Khan, PhD - Director of Education for South and Central Asia, OLPC
Sreeram Dhurjaty, PhD - Medical electronics consultant
Michail Bletsas - Director of Network Computing, MIT Media Lab / OLPC
Arnan (Roger) Sipitakiat, PhD - former MIT Media Lab grad / OLPC Thailand
Santi Tisayakorn - DSIL Provost
Dr.Thaweesak Koanantakool - VP of NSTDA / OLPC Thailand
Dr. Stephen J. Atwood, MD - Unicef EAPRO
Phonchan (Newey) Kraiwatnutsorn - Director of Youth Venture
Sinee Chakthranont - Ashoka Thailand

For those not really familiar with the XO laptop let me discuss some of its unique capabilities:

DURABILITY: Certified to operate in temperatures up to 45 degrees celsius; withstands 125G of shock due to lack of a hard drive; dual-mode screen (reflective B/W mode) that can be read in direct sunlight

MOBILITY: IEEE 802.11s. For those not familiar with geek-speak, it's a standard for MESH networks, where only one computer needs to maintain an internet connection. Thus it creates the potential for internet access and connectivity where technical infrastructure doesn't exist. According to early tests, the WiFi antennae range reached 1000 meters.
Check out this interactive flash demo

EFFICIENCY: Consumes about 2 watts, 1/10th the power of standard laptops. Low-power consumption allows the XO to be recharged through human powered alternatives.

More technical details can be found here

However, the most interesting feature of the XO that allowed us to explore non-traditional application extensions is the dual-mode microphone input that also serves as a SENSOR INPUT. The embedded Analog-to-Digital converter facilitates the integration of various biological sensors:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) = Heart rhythm analysis
    • Arrythmia, Heart Failure
  • Electromyogram (EMG) = Muscle condition
    • Nerve compression or injury (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
  • Spirometer = Breathing measurements
    • Asthma (Occupational), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Pulse Oximeter = Oxygenation of blood
  • Bioelectrical Impedance = Body fat analysis

We’ve introduced a very powerful computing platform that can perform diagnostics on the human body, but how specifically can we leverage this technology to help others?

Can we bring basic primary care to others in rural villages?
Can we help elders manage chronic illness?
Are our bodies endangered by our surroundings?
Can we educate others about basic sanitation, dietary needs, etc.?

We could certainly develop a hardware peripheral for remote patient monitoring to address issue #2, but this form of patient management has been around for some time and we didn't want the focus of our effort to stray from the educational goals of the organization: the enrichment of the children.

OLPC Educational Proposition
It is critically important to adequately educate all the children of the emerging world. Simply doing more of the same is no longer enough, if it ever was. If their citizens are to benefit, as they should from the spread of the technology-based, global information economy, these nations must rethink the old top-down classroom paradigm, and replace it with a dynamic learning model that leverages the children themselves, turning them into “teachers” as well as “learners.” The tool with which to unlock their enormous potential is the XO. Put this ultra-low-cost, powerful, rugged and versatile laptop in their hands, and the kids will do the rest.

OLPC Golden State's mission is driven by this proposition. We truly believe that one of the most effective ways to improve the lives of youth is to empower them to realize their own ability to make positive social change.

- Engage the children to think about health concerns in their community
- Educate the students about basic health diagnostics and primary care/preventive medicine
- Develop HW peripherals and SW applications geared towards health related issues they want to address
- Support deployment and execution of pilot projects

Since there is much complexity behind these health issues and fundamentals, we realize a great deal of mentorship from technical and medical disciplines is needed to produce an effective project. Yet this is what makes our effort much more than just another technical effort. Here is just one example of how we can make a social impact...

Sample Case: Air Pollution in Bangkok

Situation: Over the past 5 years, the air pollution in BKK has become better, but it continues to plague those in the most urban areas. Air pollutants can worsen asthma and allergies and induce asthma attacks even in healthy people.
Main Barrier Addressed: Insufficient evidence that air conditions are better for all citizens. Despite an overall better Air Pollution Index record are certain segments of the population still at risk?
Experiment: Use a spirometer to gather demographics.
Create awareness of pollution levels
Educate urban dwellers how to protect themselves (asthma treatment/prevention)
Early detection of asthma (occupational asthma)
Education of asthma/allergy management

MAKE THE CASE! Tell us how you could see diagnostics improving society!

OLPC Mission

Mission Statement (courtesy of

Most of the nearly two–billion children in the developing world are inadequately educated, or receive no education at all. One in three does not complete the fifth grade.

The individual and societal consequences of this chronic global crisis are profound. Children are consigned to poverty and isolation—just like their parents—never knowing what the light of learning could mean in their lives. At the same time, their governments struggle to compete in a rapidly evolving, global information economy, hobbled by a vast and increasingly urban underclass that cannot support itself, much less contribute to the commonweal, because it lacks the tools to do so.

It is time to rethink this equation.

Given the resources that developing countries can reasonably allocate to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per pupil, compared to the approximately $7500 per pupil spent annually in the U.S.—even a doubled or redoubled national commitment to traditional education, augmented by external and private funding, would not get the job done. Moreover, experience strongly suggests that an incremental increase of “more of the same”—building schools, hiring teachers, buying books and equipment—is a laudable but insufficient response to the problem of bringing true learning possibilities to the vast numbers of children in the developing world.

Standing still is a reliable recipe for going backward.

Any nation's most precious natural resource is its children. We believe the emerging world must leverage this resource by tapping into the children's innate capacities to learn, share, and create on their own. Our answer to that challenge is the XO laptop, a children's machine designed for “learning learning.”

XO embodies the theories of constructionism first developed by MIT Media Lab Professor Seymour Papert in the 1960s, and later elaborated upon by Alan Kay, complemented by the principles articulated by Nicholas Negroponte in his book, Being Digital.

Extensively field-tested and validated among some of the poorest and most remote populations on earth, constructionism emphasizes what Papert calls “learning learning” as the fundamental educational experience. A computer uniquely fosters learning learning by allowing children to “think about thinking”, in ways that are otherwise impossible. Using the XO as both their window on the world, as well as a highly programmable tool for exploring it, children in emerging nations will be opened to both illimitable knowledge and to their own creative and problem-solving potential.

OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program, nor is the XO a product in any conventional sense of the word. OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end—an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community.

Until then, stay tuned.

Brief Intro

Welcome all!

Jake (Snake) and I (Coach B) look to maintain this blog to help update everyone on our progress. A blog is definitely an excellent way to communicate our results and approach to others; however, I was so quickly overwhelmed with cold calls, program planning and research, and the scope of our project was so rapidly changing that I found it difficult to capture any concrete thoughts. Not too mention, my old T40 (~5 yrs. old) was starting to give me grief with HD and motherboard failures that made any remote communication much harder. It's times like these when I realize how I've taken technology and the internet as a whole for granted. Even more of a reason why I believe in the mission of OLPC.

To supplement this blog, I've also created a Facebook group to gather more interest in our project and facilitate some discussion about our objectives amongst peers.

We also encourage the use of LoudAppeal to continue discussion of all grassroot efforts outside of the Wiki medium. So get ready for one long post-update of the developments since July of 2007.