bit-tech.net

The Humane Reader: a $20 PC

The Humane Reader: a $20 PC

The Humane Reader brings content like Wikipedia to the masses - for just $20, in quantity.

If you're a developing nation wanting to bring the wonders of computing to your citizens but unable to afford even the $100 laptop, perhaps the $20 PC is more your style?

The Humane Reader - via Make - is designed to offer a digital library of five thousand books to households or schools that have no access to the Internet, and it does so for just £13.

Designed originally as a device for offline viewing of Wikipedia, the Humane Reader aims to bring on-line content to areas of the world where Internet access is simply not available - and is extremely low-power and eminently hackable.

The device is based around the atmega328p microcontroller, with one powering the video output - a 38x25 character black and white display capable of text or "simple graphics" and designed to be connected to a TV via a composite cable - another offering USB connectivity, and one to actually run the device itself.

A microSD slot is included for storing the content - and for adding new content to the device at a later date - and the device will work with any PS/2 keyboard, making it an extremely inexpensive way for a developing nation to increase its citizens' access to knowledge: if you've got a TV set, you can read digital content.

The team behind the Humane Reader have released the design and software under an open-source licence, and encourage others to hack and improve the device - and with compatibility with software and accessories designed for the popular Arduino microcontroller range, there are plenty of possibilities for this compact little marvel.

Is your mind swimming with the possibilities of such a low-power, compact computing device, or are you struggling to imagine reading Wikipedia on a 38x25 black and white display? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

11 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
confusis 19th July 2010, 10:11 Quote
Better idea than this new item: Recycle old Thin clients, replace the embedded OS with DSL and add wikipedia/e-books.

Less waste as you are not producing a new item.

- Check out loading DSL onto a Compaq Evo T20 thin client via google - something I intend to do soon :)
sotu1 19th July 2010, 10:25 Quote
Confusis, check out Computer Aid ;) they do what you suggested
confusis 19th July 2010, 10:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sotu1
Confusis, check out Computer Aid ;) they do what you suggested

Thats the way it should be - recycle our old unwanted/outdated stuff rather that make new systems for the developing nations. Why manufacture (at the cost of new materials, mining, pollution) new products when we are struggling to cope with the E-waste or huge corps/everyday users? Most of the PC's that companies throw out are still in working order and should be passed on not dumped.

I sort of do this here, accept older pc's, refurb them and then pass them onto local families that need them, only the cost of my labour and any replacement parts is passed on (usually under NZ$50 for a P4/Celeron system). I also accept their older PC's to recycle and refurb older PC's. Enabling families with school children to have at the least Windows XP on an internet capable PC. Just doing my part :)
bigsharn 19th July 2010, 10:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by confusis
Better idea than this new item: Recycle old Thin clients, replace the embedded OS with DSL and add wikipedia/e-books.

Less waste as you are not producing a new item.

- Check out loading DSL onto a Compaq Evo T20 thin client via google - something I intend to do soon :)

The only problem with that, is that it's not as low-power as this...thing (In honesty I'm not sure what to class it as), and you still need an external monitor on top of that
The_Beast 19th July 2010, 10:56 Quote
Rather than recycle, we (my family) always gave our old computers to family, friends or to charity.
confusis 19th July 2010, 10:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigsharn
The only problem with that, is that it's not as low-power as this...thing (In honesty I'm not sure what to class it as), and you still need an external monitor on top of that

I did think that but how much energy is used producing a new system?

My T20 uses ~10w. Probably the only extra cost would be a VGA->TV convertor (if required) , and a USB KB (cheaper/same cost as a ps2 keyboard, and generally when companies throw out systems they throw the whole lot, KB, mouse, Monitor, etc)

OT - I think the Humane website has crashed :/ Was trying to d/l the system design/source codes
[PUNK] crompers 19th July 2010, 12:51 Quote
how about something similar with a small projector display so that you dont need the tv, just a dark room
CharlO 19th July 2010, 15:20 Quote
Really amazing use for a atmega328
scarrmrcc 19th July 2010, 16:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Beast
Rather than recycle, we (my family) always gave our old computers to family, friends or to charity.

that IS recycling.
alick 19th July 2010, 18:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by scarrmrcc
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Beast
Rather than recycle, we (my family) always gave our old computers to family, friends or to charity.

that IS recycling.

no it's reusing
Joey9801 19th July 2010, 23:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlO
Really amazing use for a atmega328

It really is, I can barely make a calculator out of an AVR :P
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums