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gutterboy

New York, NY, United States

Member since September 08, 2008

  • We're All Connected

    Communication, Industrial Design

    Adhoc_282_

    I am interested in addressing the connectivity of humans through the use of modern technology. The internet has clearly revolutionized the free exchange of ideas and information (in some countries) and the availability of the required technology is increasing and improving. However, the actual networking involved tends to simply rely on the internet as the sole median between people and as we all know this can clutter the exchange. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC http://laptop.org/laptop/hardware/specs.shtml) has made strides to narrow this gap by creating an affordable basic laptop for children in developing countries or underprivileged areas throughout the world. The OLPC addresses the connectivity of these basic laptops by connecting to networks wirelessly or by creating an ad hoc (802.11s) network between individual computers. Although this aims to create a greater area of connectivity for these computers it is lacking a centralized server. If the computers are out of range of an active internet connection then all they are left with is the ability to communicate from laptop to laptop. Even if you were able to relay the internet from one pc to the next, the amount of collision points involved would essentially make the connection worthless. Typically a network server is the most expensive part of the network infrastructure. If you want to heighten the OLPC from a learning tool to a networking tool than the issue of One Server Per City is a viable project to undergo. By creating a centralized database and server the reliability and flexibility of a product such as the OLPC greatly increases. Centralized databases could relay stored information regardless of an active internet connection, greatly increasing the effectiveness of using each laptop as a learning tool as well as a networking tool.

    Secondly, another area of conflict is the availability and distribution of electricity. Even if every child has a laptop it quickly becomes irrelevant if all of their laptops are dead without the availability of electricity. The OLPC does support off the grid power supplies such as a foot pedal, pull cord, and hand crank. If other laptop users don’t have to wind their computers several times per use why should developing areas be relegated to such measures? Modern electrical systems are nothing more complex wired networks. Instead of routers and severs you have relay stations and power plants. Ideally the gains in solar and fuel cell technology could help remedy this issue in most remote areas (sorry Antarctica) by the use of local bio materials and the sun. Luckily we quickly entering the era of power over wi-fi in which the very network you connect to with your computer can actually supply the power to run the machine wirelessly. Nikola Telsa was able to broadcast direct current electricity over great distances to power product far less electrically efficient than modern technologies. The newly developing “WiTricity” (http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-01/electricity-air) could be tremendously beneficial to areas in which the electrical infrastructure is simply not present.

  • Solar-sats-388_177_

    I, too, am fascinated by the idea of distributing electrical power wirelessly. This is the kind of technological breakthrough that could completely change the world. Can you imagine a world where electricity was basically free, and could be provided to any location on earth for very little cost. How would social structures and institutions change in response to that?

    You are right that the availability of a steady, reliable and cheap source of electricity is the central impediment to success with the One Laptop per Child initiative. These laptops are incredibly sophisticated and well-designed, yet their usefulness at all comes down to questions that have we have been struggling with for over 100 years. I think that there will be a lot of effort in the near future on developing many different approaches to providing electricity directly to where it is needed via satellites that act as giant mirrors. this is very large scale engineering, and beyond the subject matter of this course; but I can think of other, smaller scale design interventions that could be used to provide power for computers in villages around the world, through some form of animal power generators, or other innovative ways to harness locally available resources. Think about what people have a lot of, then figure out a way of using that to make small amounts of power.
    Steven

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My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design