Pocobor recently started helping out Village Tech Solutions, an awesome non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable and relevant technology solutions to the developing world. One of the first systems they developed was the WireBridge (shown below), which is a human-powered river crossing system that has facilitated over 3 million river crossings across deep river gorges in Nepal to date.
One of their current projects is to develop Looma, which is an affordable audio-visual technology device that can provide an interactive window to the internet and access to educational content for village schools that don’t have access to electricity, computers, or even books. The portable, battery powered system integrates a projector with control wand (imagine a Wii controller) so it can act as an electronic whiteboard. It also provides an internet connection over WiFi or any mobile data network if either is available. If not, there is a wide variety of educational content (textbooks, lessons, etc.) stored locally on the device itself to facilitate learning. The system can be recharged from solar panels in villages where the electric grid is not available or is unreliable.
A team of volunteer students from Stanford, Dartmouth, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, George Washington University and Menlo School spent this summer developing an amazing initial prototype. As the fall rolled around and field testing in Nepal begins, there were a few more design tasks that Pocobor started helping out with, including developing a custom power supply for the module and a circuit board for the IR camera used to track the control wand motion.
It’s been a great collaboration and Pocobor is excited to continue helping out with such an interesting and useful project!