The One Laptop Per Child project, which aims to put computers in the hands of children in emerging markets so they aren’t left out of the digital revolution, said on Thursday it plans to add an option for a touchscreen to its forthcoming OLPC XO 1.75 laptop, which is schedule to start shipping in 2011. Although the XO 1.75 will also be available without a touchscreen—and those versions will be less costly—the OLPC project wants to start working with touchscreen application interfaces in preparation for its future XO-3 units, which will use a tablet form factor in partnership with Marvell.
The OLPC project is currently shipping the XO 1.5, which is based on the same basic industrial design as the original XO laptops, but with revved up internals. The XO 1.75 design plans to switch from a processor from Via to an ARM processor from Marvell, which the OLPC organization says will offer up to twice the speed at a quarter of the power consumption of its current x86 solution. The XO 1.75 will keep a physical keyboard and reportedly add rubber bumpers to the unit to increase durability; the XO 3 tablet designs will eliminate the physical keyboard in favor of on-screen virtual keyboards.
The OLPC project will continue to base the XO notebooks on Fedora Linux, overlayed with its own Sugar interface developed specifically for the education market. OLPC does not plan to support Windows on future OLPC notebooks.
The OLPC project was founded with the idea of bring wireless laptop computers to children in emerging markets at a target price of $100 per unit. Although the OLPC project has not hit that target price—and estimates that XO 1.75 will cost about $150 without a touchscreen—the project has had success in a number of countries. OLPC recently announced a version of the OLPC XO with a larger keyboard to accommodate high school students.