Communications and info tech in developing countries, especially wireless broadband and high-value applications
Ken Novak's Weblog
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
$100 computers are on the way: Interview with Advanced Micro Devices CEO Hector Ruiz. "The PIC was our first attempt to do something different. I think that will continue to morph into a new generation of products. We have a PIC 2 and a PIC 3 on the road map. All those products will improve the (computing) power and value, while at the same time lowering the cost.
Low-price computer design is meant to help provide Internet access to people in emerging markets. I don't think a $100 computer is out of the question in a three-year time frame. A lot of people forget that the first cell phones came out at $3,000 to $4,000 dollars and today are free. I think there's going to be some of that same kind of movement with computing and communications devices.
It's important for us to not lose sight of the segment that today doesn't have any products built for it. The trickle-down effect of desktops and laptops into that segment just doesn't work. I believe that we have an opportunity to use our x86 know-how and capability to really build products for that segment. That will be the PIC at the beginning, and there will be more. I think, within three years, it's not at all unreasonable to think of a $100 laptop for that segment. " 8:42:19 AM
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Cellular Internet relayed to Wi-Fi: "Enter a little green box, about the size of a videocassette, called the Junxion Box. It grabs a wireless cell connection and turns it into a Wi-Fi signal (it also outputs Ethernet). The result: instant high-speed network." Applications: trade shows; client visits by consulting teams; workers at construction sites; wifi access on public transport. Takes a PC card to adapt to different cell networks. Cost: about $600. 8:47:04 PM
Thursday, April 07, 2005
How SMS Could Save Your Life: Cell phones are being used "to manage the treatment of HIV/AIDS in [South Africa] where health care systems are overburdened and doctors are scarce. ..
Therapeutic counselors fill a crucial gap at the Gugulethu clinic, where 525 patients taking ARV drugs are served by just two doctors and two nurses. They visit patients at home and count pills. They take note of conditions that interfere with treatment, such as the absence of food in the house. In short, they are the first line of defense against problems with side effects and drug resistance that can develop if treatment isn't managed properly. In the past, this job involved writing out the cumbersome details of each home visit by hand. But as the clinic data accumulated and the number of patients on treatment grew, the system became unmanageable..
They [now] use SMS to send all of this information to a central database, where Sister Mtwisha can instantly view it on her computer screen. With all of the relevant information compiled neatly in front of her, the irregularities stand out. .. "I used to pick up some faults in the system after a week or a month," she says. "Now I send a message and things are sorted out on the spot, without having to wait." ..
The system, which runs on open-source software, is inexpensive and can easily be managed remotely and adapted for various projects. ..
"If a patient in Gugulethu goes to the Eastern Cape and gets sick and goes to a clinic, they would need to know what drug regimen he's been on, what side effects he had, whether he was hospitalized," she says. "We need to get a system like an ATM where you can get money from every bank. We need something like that for HIV." The Cell-Life project, started by civil engineering faculty and students at the University of Cape Town and the Cape Technikon, has enlisted engineers and computer programmers to provide just that.
Meanwhile, a number of other clinics have expressed interest in using the system, but it has been difficult to raise funds to expand the program. Most donors would rather buy drugs than spend money on systems for distributing them, Rivett says. Instead of donating money, however, she maintains that large companies like Coca-Cola could make an even greater contribution by sharing their knowledge in areas like distribution and product management. "You find Coca-Cola in rural villages everywhere, but you don't find drugs," she says. "The Coca-Colas and the Unilevers can make sure their products get to these places. We need to use these guys to help us get drugs into every single clinic." 2:33:50 PM
Monday, April 04, 2005
U3 - New USB memory/device standard: "U3 makes the promise of anywhere, anytime, any PC computing a reality. By combining the widely adopted storage capabilities of today’s UFDs (USB Flash Drives) with the ability to transport and run applications from a small UFD, U3 ensures truly personal and portable computing. The U3 standard enables developers to create easy to use applications that minimize the complexities of today’s digital life. From your own email folders to healthcare history to fully functional work applications, U3 makes everything available anywhere without having to access multiple devices or lug around a laptop."
Memorex, Kingston, and Verbatim have promised products: "Called a smart USB flash drive, these drives enable consumers to carry all of their personal computer settings, applications and data for use on any PC wherever they go. The new Verbatim smart Store ‘n’ Go USB flash drives will be availabe worldwide [in 2005]. .. The U3 platform includes three components. U3’s hardware specification gives manufacturers the core technology to build their smart USB flash drives. The U3 software developer kit includes sample code, a standard set of application programming interfaces (APIs), and thorough documentation. The U3 Launchpad is a friendly graphical user interface that is used to access and run applications."
This could improve the utility of internet cafes: users can keep an offline personalized environment and secure information store for a small purchase price. Many of today's UFDs play and record sound; with U3, they could rapidly download and upload voice mail at an internet cafe to extend VOIP services (e.g., in developing countries). The U3 could be added to an entertainment device, like an MP3 player, radio, game machine or camera, making the net cost per user negligible. 9:58:25 AM