ETech 09: Low Cost, Low Power Computing

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Mary Lou Jepsen, one of Tuesday’s first talks at ETech 09.

“I love my laptop more than my life.” Quote from a boy called Badmus in Nigeria, May 2007. It’s the only thing he’s ever owned and the only chance he’s had.

Jepsen used to be at Intel designing high-end HDTVs that very few could afford. Wondered why we needed more of this stuff.

The world is digital. There’s a digital divide. Cell phones help make the world more even but they don’t go all the way. 97% of adolescents alive today live in the developing world.

Started in One Laptop Per Child in 1995[?]. One million children in the developing world now have laptops. The effect on the industry has been huge. The Netbook Effect — the industry studied the OLPC and have created small laptops, netbooks. Predicted to ship 50 million netbooks this year.

A lot of us tend to do high end, high tech research at the top of the pyramid. At OLPC and Pixel Qi [her new company] they try to innovate at the base of the pyramid. If you can pull it off you can increase the height and width of the pyramid. Start at the bottom.

Low power is the real key. More important than the cost. Much of the developing world has little regular power. eg, why is the computer using so much power when nothing is changing — the screen is static, no key presses, etc?

Component prices are half of what they were six months [?] ago.

All screens should not be TVs. The screen on a laptop is usually for reading. Why is it not different to TVs? Should be low power, readable in sunlight, higher resolution, not a bright light in your eyes.

2009 launch: Pixel Qi 3Qi Display Triple Mode Screen does all this. [Oh:] “It’s coming”, they’re still finalising their funding.

People want TVs even if they don’t have power. A low power cheap HDTV will probably come next year.

“The CPU wars are over; it’s the screen wars now.” Quote from a C-level [what’s that?] executive at one of the top-3 computer brands in the world, October 2008.

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