Infinity modular laptop inches closer to classroom reality

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The pre-production Infinity prototype features Core, Camera, Battery and Screen modules

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Back in February, Sydney, Australia-based One Laptop Per Child spin-off, One Education, officially unveiled its concept for a modular laptop called the XO-Infinity. Aimed at being so simple to put together that a 4-year-old could do it, the (slightly renamed) Infinity project has now blossomed into a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to get the colorful portable computer into the hands of school kids around the globe.

Few details were set in stone when One Education officially opened the first page of its Infinity project book earlier in the year. We knew that the colorful chunky 2-in-1 laptop was being developed to survive the inevitable bumps and scrapes that youngsters would submit it to, that there were to be five module types which would make up the whole and that the expected lifespan would be in the region of 10 years. With prototyping complete, we can now fill in some significant blanks.

The Infinity is still in development, so final specs could be subject to refinement, but the pre-production prototype features Core, Camera, Battery and Screen modules that can be slotted into the upper section – which is essentially the tablet part of the 2-in-1 hybrid laptop – all connected to the unit's Hub via USB-C. Inquisitive youngsters can even open up each module to investigate what makes the 2-in-1 tick or to attempt upgrades and repairs. The tablet section can then be docked into a keyboard for full laptop mode.

The Core module is the brains of the device, and is where the 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of solid state storage (with microSD expansion) and Wi-Fi-/Bluetooth wireless technologies can be found. The launch unit will come with a combined Camera module packing a 2 megapixel rear shooter and a VGA front cam, but the slot in/slide out nature of the beast caters for higher resolution cameras to be used as and when they become available.

Likewise, at launch there will be a 7,000 mAh Battery module available, but more capacity could be installed later on. Usefully, this module can also serve as a stand-alone power source. The final module is home to a 8.9 inch, 2,560 x 1,600 capacitive multi-touch display. The Hub part of the "tablet" contains all the components that young users probably won't need to upgrade, such as USB ports and speakers.

Once all the modules have been slotted in, a brightly colored cover snaps over the top to conceal the internals. The Infinity runs a child-friendly, customized version of Android Lollipop, and will come with a selection of educational apps pre-installed (including Scratch Jr, Mathletics, Literacy Planet and Skoolbo). Ubuntu and Windows 10 versions are currently on the development to-do list. High performance, low power Core modules, high strength Screen modules and alternative source power modules are also in the future additions diary.

The One Education's US$50,000 flexible funding campaign on Indiegogo (which means the non-profit gets all the money in the pot even if the end goal isn't reached) is being used to take the Infinity into production. Pledge levels for the Infinity start at $249, representing $50 off the expected retail price. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in September 2016. In the meantime, have a look at the pitch video below to see what's on offer.

View gallery - 12 images

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