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‘I-Slate’ e-notepad to be tested in India

Students in an Indian village have been selected to test a new low-cost electronic notepad.

Written by Agencies | Washington |
November 10, 2010 5:34:32 pm

Students in an Indian village have been selected to test a new low-cost electronic notepad being built around a new class of green,power-stingy microchips that use a fraction of the electricity of today’s computer chips.

Dubbed as “I-Slate”,the device has been developed in partnership of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU),Houston’s Rice University and Villages for Development and Learning Foundation (ViDAL),an NGO in India.

I-Slate is targeted at millions of Indian school children who do not have access to electricity.

“President Obama’s visit to India this week highlights Indian economic achievements,but India’s full economic potential will only be realized with sustainable,low-cost technologies that benefit all segments of the population,” said Krishna Palem,a Rice University professor who is leading the effort to create a low-cost,electronic version of the hand-held slates that millions of Indian children use.

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Palem’s brainchild is in development at the Institute of Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID) at NTU.

The first prototypes of the I-slate,which were built at NTU this summer by a team that included three Rice undergraduates,are set to undergo their second round of tests in India later this month,the University said in a statement.

Palem,who directs ISAID,said the I-slate is the first of a series of electronic notepads being built around a new class of green,power-stingy microchips that use a fraction of the electricity of today’s computer chips.

Under development in partnership between ISAID and Switzerland’s Center for Electronics and Microtechnology,the chips will make it possible for the I-slate to run on solar power from panels similar to those used in calculators.

The I-slate began to take shape over the summer,and early prototypes were introduced in tests at a school near Hyderabad in early August.

“Children in Indian village schools are just like their peers anywhere in the world: eager to learn,tech savvy and willing to try new pedagogical tools that engage their creative minds,” ViDAL president Rajeswari Pingali said.

“The I-slate can help bring the marvels of ICT into thousands of rural schools and contribute to an improved learning experience.”

Based in Hyderabad,ViDAL is partnering with ISAID to test the first I-slates in Mohd Hussainpalli village,some 70 miles southwest of Hyderabad in a drought-prone area.

“There are many factors involved — good nutrition,a good psychological environment,attentive teachers and appropriate learning and teaching tools.

“We can’t control all of these,but ViDAL is active in areas where we can make a difference,like nutrition and teaching tools. We believe the I-slate has great potential once its design caters to local needs and strengths,” Pingali added.

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