Intel talks about PCs for developing nations

Posted on Thursday, May 04 2006 @ 13:37 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
The multiplying effects of computers, the Internet and education can double the reach of technology’s benefits worldwide in the next 5 years, Intel Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini said today in a speech at the World Congress on Information Technology.

“We’re close to achieving Andy Grove’s vision of a billion connected PCs – and the economic, social and personal gains that come with them,” said Otellini, referring to the Intel co-founder and former CEO. “Our job now is to harness the combined potential of full-featured technology, high-speed connectivity and effective education to speed the gains for the next billion people – and the next billion after that.”

At the event in Austin, Otellini also gave the first public demonstration of a low-cost notebook PC for students in developing nations and announced a plan with the Mexican government to provide PCs to 300,000 teachers.

In his speech, Otellini said that the predictions by Grove and of another co-founder of Intel, Gordon Moore, form a backdrop for the new World Ahead Program from Intel. The program’s 5-year goals are to extend wireless broadband PC access to the world’s next billion users while training 10 million more teachers on the effective use of technology in education, with the possibility of reaching another 1 billion students.

“Moore’s Law and volume economics made PC technology broadly accessible, and Andy understood the tremendous additive force of the Internet,” said Otellini. “But this power is still out of reach for most of the world’s people. The World Ahead Program, which integrates Intel’s efforts in accessibility, connectivity and education, seeks a multiplier effect to accelerate the next wave of gains.”

Otellini demonstrated one of the PCs developed from Intel’s extensive ethnographic research in developing countries, a small notebook PC for students codenamed “Eduwise.” Eduwise is specifically designed to provide affordable, collaborative learning environments for teachers and young students.

With students using the Eduwise notebook in class, a teacher can make presentations, control what a student has access to, and interact individually with each student in giving tests or providing feedback. The Intel-developed education application integrates with other non-computing learning tasks such as note taking and handwriting with wireless pen attachments. Because it is a fully featured PC, the Eduwise design can accommodate other standard software and tools for additional needs and uses.

Otellini also announced that Intel and the Mexican government have reached an agreement to make Intel’s new low-cost, fully featured PC available to 300,000 teachers by year’s end. The systems, unveiled last month in Mexico by Otellini as part of Intel’s Discover the PC initiative, provide an easy-to-use, fully functional PC for first-time users. Intel also plans to extend teacher training to 400,000 teachers in Mexico through the Intel Teach to the Future program by 2010.

“The federal government of Mexico has made great progress in bringing computing into the primary and secondary school classrooms of our country,” said Mexican President Vicente Fox. “Now we can take a big step to effectively bring computing into the classroom by allowing teachers to immerse themselves in computing in their everyday lives. By collaborating with Intel we can provide low-cost, full-featured PCs and Internet access to 300,000 teachers who could not otherwise afford it.”

Noting that the digital divide is not limited to the developing world, Otellini highlighted the work of Vanessa Jones, a senior trainer in the Intel Teach to the Future program, from the Austin Independent School District. Jones has trained 426 “master teachers” who have in turn trained 4600 teachers and influenced more than 100,000 students nationwide.

Also keynoting at the conference was Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Digital Health Group. Burns spoke of some of the biggest healthcare issues the world faces today and how information technology can address them. Intel formed the Digital Health Group last year to apply its technology and knowledge to enable better healthcare at a lower cost. As with Intel’s platforms for the developing world, in healthcare Intel pursues a people-centered innovation process to meet the most important needs and desires of individuals and organizations.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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