Wednesday, August 13, 2014

AAA: A $38-Tablet vs. Poverty

AAA (Available, Accessible, and Affordable) is how I rate and describe Datawind’s UbiSlate 7ci. It is a $38-Tablet that makes “little miracles” available to the marginalized and forgotten. It is a device that easily makes data, information, intelligence, knowledge and education accessible both online and offline to all groups of all ages.  It is an affordable technology tool for the seemingly hopeless but supposedly “preferred poor” in the “Battle Against Poverty”.

In this year’s International CES held in Las Vegas, Nevada – a choice event that I attend every year, I purposely scheduled a meeting with the Executives of Datawind. I wanted to see a demonstration of the amazingly inexpensive electronic device that could prove to be an equalizer.

The UbiSlate 7ci is no iPAD and no Samsung Galaxy. Neither is it an Amazon Kindle Fire HD nor a Barnes & Noble Nook HD. The poor can never afford these devices as prized and possessing of features that are describable as “luxurious” beyond the poor’s basic needs at this stage of the battle. Having “options” is currently a monopoly of the relatively rich or middle class.

It took a while before I received a sample product for review. It took another while before I finished testing the product because I also got it checked by a “Digital Native” (born after 1980) and by a “Digital Immigrant” (born before 1980). As expected, as iPAD users, both had several issues such as multi-tasking, quality of screen viewing, and limited to WiFi for Internet Access for the inexpensive model.

My company, the First Convergent Communications Worldwide, Inc. and Franklin Electronic Publishers, Inc. introduced the eBook technology in the Philippines when we brought and exclusively distributed the eBookMan in the Philippines. My firm was also a licensed manufacturer of the gadget. The eBookMan is the predecessor of Amazon’s Kindle.

Through the device, we created electronic libraries that included an encyclopedia, dictionary, the Holy Bible or the Koran, basic laws and Supreme Court decisions, medical libraries, novels, hit songs, audiobooks, and other documents. We described them as "Library in your pocket; knowledge at your fingertips.”

We called the laws and jurisprudence library “Law on the Go”. And we jokingly tell users; “You can now take the law into your own hands.”

This is what I mean by a device that gives access to knowledge. I said in a TV interview once, “My dream is for a Filipino boy riding on a carabao (the country’s “beast of burden”) holding a gadget accessing the world’s documents, books, music, videos, and other contents.”

That dream is now closer to reality.  With the UbiSlate 7ci and all its current features, offline and online capabilities, I could see localizing global knowledge, and globalizing the local ones. Even online education in the remotest areas of the Philippines is no longer a remote possibility but a doable and distinct probability.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in fact, unveiled the UbiSlate 7ci at the United Nations in New York City in recognition for its role in educating the world and consequently as a means to fight poverty.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli, India’s UN Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri

Education is the great equalizer.  It is the passport of the poor to obtain employment and to advance in life. It gives them equal opportunity to exercise freedom, enjoy Liberty, and pursue happiness not only for themselves but also for their children.

The ability to access knowledge offline through the electronic libraries made available in devices such as UbiSlate 7ci as well as online through e-learning courses in the Internet, broadens the horizon that even the poorest of the poor never imagined it could have.

Just think – eBooks, lectures in both video and audio formats, papers and documents, art work or drawings, photos, and other contents stored in the UbiSlate 7ci, and retrievable anytime anywhere from it.

The entire library from 1st Grade to senior year in high school could be accessible to the student as it is stored forever and retrievable as needed.

(Please continue reading at “Tech IT From My Barber” for more of the technical details 

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