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Education Handhelds Power News

Tablet Prototype Needs No External Power Supply 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the fully-integrated-car-battery dept.
timothy writes "I'd like to see computing devices with no need for an external power supply — an e-book reader, a general knock-about PDA, a phone — all kinds of things. But there's a certain heart-strings appeal to such a computer intended as an educational tool for precisely those kind of places where basic infrastructure (like the provision of electricity) is a stumbling block. Perhaps built-in solar makes more sense, in more places, than the hand-cranked power the OLPC project ended up dropping from their laptops-for-kids program."
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Tablet Prototype Needs No External Power Supply

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  • The Sun (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xerio (1001881) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:01PM (#34236216)
    Wouldn't that kind of count as an external power supply?
  • RTFC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:15PM (#34236374) Homepage

    This perfectly illustrates why the nerd pedantry is lonely, angry, and ignored. People with lives understand "requires no external power supply" to mean "doesn't have to be plugged in." Instead of accepting this, a few people have decided to ignore the hard work of these people to bring revolutionary educational tools into the hands of poor rural children, and quibble about thermodynamics.

    From the top and bottom of my heart, please fuck off. The adults are doing useful things. Leave them to it.

  • Why embedded? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:20PM (#34236416) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't make much sense to me to embed mechanical / solar / whatever power sources directly into these sorts of products. This is especially true for mechanical power sources, like a crank. That should be in an extremely ergonomic external form factor that a person can operate comfortably, without risking dropping their laptop / tablet, or accidentally flinging it across the room.

    Same with solar. That needs to be in a waterproof form factor that can be left laying on the ground or roof in the rain without being destroyed.

    A family with two or more devices could get by with just one solar charger, or better yet, one solar and one mechanical, to give them more charging options.

    When I was a kid I had one of those little generators that was rotated by my front tire, which powered a little headlight. Something like that could be used with any bicycle to generate relatively massive amounts of power (compared to a hand crank). A very simple stand (home made or otherwise) to get the back tire up off the floor and they're ready to do some serious charging.

  • Solar Calculator (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:22PM (#34236448)

    I had a solar powered calculator back in the early 90's. You can't tell me we don't have low powered computers today that do more than that on nothing more than the sun. ...so where are they?

  • Re:Thermodynamics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:26PM (#34236476) Homepage Journal

    Okay, seriously, why does pedantry like this get modded up? Anyone who takes even a cursory glance at the summary understands what "no external power supply" means in this context, and it's a perfectly good phrase for what they're describing. There was nothing insightful about OP's comment, just oh-look-how-smart-I-am snark.

  • Re:First Post (Score:2, Insightful)

    by operagost (62405) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:29PM (#34236512) Homepage Journal
    Stop being lazy, Gilligan! Mr. Howell wants his blender working by this afternoon, and the coconut smoothies won't make themselves!
  • Re:RTFC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wondafucka (621502) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:52PM (#34236758) Homepage Journal

    This perfectly illustrates why the nerd pedantry is lonely, angry, and ignored. People with lives understand "requires no external power supply" to mean "doesn't have to be plugged in." Instead of accepting this, a few people have decided to ignore the hard work of these people to bring revolutionary educational tools into the hands of poor rural children, and quibble about thermodynamics.

    From the top and bottom of my heart, please fuck off. The adults are doing useful things. Leave them to it.

    Although I wholeheartedly agree with you, I thought that posting on slashdot _was_ leaving them to it. You think anyone who actually gets stuff done reads this stuff? (ducks)

  • by espiesp (1251084) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:54PM (#34236770)

    (1) Poor places often do not have class-ROOMs at all. They teach students outside in the dirt. Literally.

    (2) With ultra-low power hardware, e-ink screens, your requirements are lowered. Plus, the idea isn't to be able to power in real time but rather charge then use.

    (3) Yes, solar-panels are too expensive to power US-scale standards of living. But still cheaper than building a full-scale coal or nuclear powered plant + infastructure to houses, err I mean SHACKS, just so these people can experience some technology. Though the bicycle powered dynamo concept is pretty good and cheap cheap cheap to build. Bikes are usually not hard to find in third world countries. On the other hand, food and clean water might be less available. Thus using up both to pedal a bike may not be ideal. Of course, the big obvious point here is in a country that can't feed itself why the fuck do they need a ebook reader/computer tablet...

    (4) I agree here. It's not cheap to create a product like this out of thin air. But there are some benefits for the trouble:

    (1) 100% self contained. Zero infrastructure needed.
    (2) No external ports are needed, making a water/dust proof device easier and thus the end result is a more durable piece.
    (3) Fringe benefits from the ultra-low-power research needed to build something like this.
    (4) Increased production of Small/Efficient solar cells can hopefully drive cost down if the materials aren't in short supply...

  • Re:Best feature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grcumb (781340) on Monday November 15, 2010 @06:22PM (#34236966) Homepage Journal

    The best thing about built-in solar and no external supply is that it would force users to regulate their usage time.

    Heh, yeah.

    Why is it that people think solar power works better in the tropics than elsewhere? Do they think we don't have clouds?

    I live and work in a Least Developed Country, and for years now I've watched as, time and again, people take a look at the power generation problem and say, "SOLAR FTW." Then they discover that it rains much of the year, that there are mountains which tend to reduce the hours of direct sunlight, as well as a smattering of rain forest overhead and, to top it all off, we occasionally get hurricanes, which leave the place without power at exactly the time we need it most.

    Bottom line: Every location has its own unique power generation challenges. In some places, wind is the answer. In others, micro-hydro. In others a diesel generator and a big battery is the only reasonable answer. For most, it's a mix of several approaches. I have yet to see a single community in the entire country for which solar is the entire answer.

    So to technology makers, I can say only this: PUT A FUCKING PLUG IN IT. The solar panel is optional; the plug is not. You don't -you can't- know what form of power generation is going to work. So leave that problem for others to solve. Just make it low-enough-power that it's not going to cost more to run than it is to purchase.

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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