Gen2 Hardware ideas

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These are hardware ideas that were written on the XO-2 page, before it was "officially" maintained by OLPC.

Other features discussed

(although not necessarily by anyone on the design team)

  • Accelerometer (so that rotation is magic, not manual)
    Some sort of low cost version is in the works.--Wad 9 January 2009
  • Clear, clip-on rubberized keyboard that snaps over second screen showing through customized keyboard buttons but still allowing touch typing and emulating button presses on the touch screen.
  • The kids in Peru asked for a flash
    Could we do a "simulated flash" through software? Add the option to make the screen white for the time the pic is being take. Not as good as a flash, but free.
  • Better protection for firmware FLASH, to avoid the possibility of bricking a machine if the power is removed at the wrong time.
  • More open hardware design (schematic) -- this is really a contractual issue with the manufacturer
    In the works--Wad 9 January 2009
  • More open software: we may not need an EC, and if we do we may be able to ensure its code is open. We may change the wireless device, and/or be able to switch to open firmware for it.
    Agreed--Wad 9 January 2009
  • Gigabit Ethernet port (for reliable networking among hundreds of laptops in a school)
    We should be able to provide reliable wireless networking for hundreds of laptops in a school. The cost of wired networking for hundreds of laptop is enormous. If you do wire a school, simply add an $8 Ethernet/USB adapter at the end of each $5 cable...
  • Power over Ethernet (so laptops charge while networked, in school)
    The Cat5 connector used won't survive the daily insertion and removals --- although a thought provoking suggestion
  • Should it have USB? USB is the worst part of the XO-1's power management architecture. But USB is also the main expansion port, to reflash, to add a keyboard or mouse, to get Ethernet, to power custom peripherals like medical monitors.
    Umm... why not allow for the user to turn the USB module off when not needed. That would definitely save power.
    USB is essential to system expansion and I/O. Laptop/desktop computer systems without serial ports are quite rare. USB is fine for occasional (i.e. external) connections, the problem comes from using it for internal system interconnection of devices which remain powered while the processor and USB interfaces are powered down.--Wad 9 January 2009
  • Should it have an SD slot? It definitely needs a nonvolatile memory expansion strategy, and SD is reasonable. 8-bit-wide SD/MMC is twice as fast as the 4-bit-wide one in the XO-1.
    Absolutely! The problem is sealing an SD slot against water/dust intrusion. Either it has a rubber cap (subject to loss) or a compromise seal which both allows water/dust intrusion and makes card removal hard. We are instead concentrating on making it simple to remove either display (e.g. for replacement) allowing access to the battery or internal SD slots.--Wad 9 January 2009
  • USB 3.0
    Why ? The cost/benefit ratio ain't there yet--Wad 9 January 2009
  • Stylus and stylus slot? Virtually every other touchscreen computer has one, for picking or writing with a stroke smaller than a blunt fingertip.
    Not planned, along the lines of "if it can get lost, it will...". Still, a discussion worth having on devel@laptop.org.--Wad 9 January 2009
  • Battery? Solar cell! LiFePO4 seems to work pretty well in the XO-1. If OLPC could design a "standard" small LiFePO4 battery form factor, like a replacement for the AA that has an interruption-proof connector suitable for computers, it could become a standard worldwide in all sorts of electronics, such as flashlights. This would certainly help with spares!
The battery on the second generation will likely be a prismatic LiFePO cell. Uniqueness in

battery design enables wonderful product design. In a high volume product like an educational laptop, the relative uniqueness shouldn't be a problem.--Wad 9 January 2009

  • Software radio receiver? AM and shortwave, maybe FM, maybe analog TV, are probably doable for pennies. Kids can learn about radio and signal processing -- and have mass communication (AM radio) receivers.
    Pennies ? Submit a design (using and arbitrary control I/F and audio outputs) and it will be considered.--Wad 9 January 2009
  • Software radio transceiver? An open WiFI chip would probably suffice for this.
  • GPS (unknown whether this will be able to make the cost budget)
    This will not make the cost budget.--Wad 9 January 2009

Late or undated submissions (for Gen3?)

  • 'Wideband' highspeed I/O connector for more durability than RJ45/Ethernet (27 March 2010 - for Gen3?)
    Useful for resolving problems with RJ45 durability
    Modeled after the Bebox 'GeekPort' [1] or Arduino [2] port
  • A method that more realistically emulate page turning
    Maybe a strip of sensor (light, capacitors, or resistive) on some of the edge of the xo-2
    Or perhaps a long paddle attached to the hinge of the laptop that detects the angle that the child is turning the page.
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