Alternative energy sources for charging devices will be the emerging trend at the CES this year. The 8-inch OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Tablet aims at providing affordable computing to the underprivileged in large numbers through cheaper energy sources like solar and kinetic chargers.
The new charging technology debuting at the CES promises to open new avenues for the non-profit project OLPC. The tablet will charge through a detachable hand crank.
The 8-inch tablet houses a solar panel besides a built-in battery, wherein a snug-fitting cover allows the user to alternatively switch the charging source. The solar panel is placed on one side and a thin battery pack rests on the other side of the cover.
The tablet powers through the battery pack when the solar panel is charged. Once the panel is fully charged, the user can connect it at the back of the tablet, using four pins or electrical contacts to power the device.
According to OLPC's Chief Technology Officer, Ed McNierney, the solar panel is capable of producing double the power wattage for every watt of power consumed for charging. Hence, it can deliver two hours of tablet run-time with just one hour of charging.
The hand crank charger works similar to the solar cover that connects to the device through a port. The concept design strategy dates back to earlier designs of OLPC, wherein the device had built-in hand cranks on either side.
McNierney said the device could also be operated using the kinetic energy from the hand cranks as a DC output. This method completely eliminates the need for battery, which may be disconnected - a very useful way of conserving battery power and a feasible solution in power crunch situations.
OLPC provides an opportunity to explore options beyond the conventional methods of charging and customisability. Customers can choose from charging options based on culture, climate and various geographical factors.
Besides, one has the option to fiddle with multiple operating systems like Google's Android or OLPC's native Sugar OS and the type of display.