Simple computer helps close digital divide, writes Mike Langberg, about the Simputer: “The Simputer is designed to be easy to operate, reliable, rugged and to run on easily obtained AA batteries. There’s a slot for sliding in smart cards, which cost less than $1 and can be given to every person in a village for storing their personal information. A built-in modem makes it possible to collect information and send out messages through the Internet. Villages beyond the reach of phone lines can send and receive data through the smart cards.”
He discusses some of the applications:
The post office in India, for example, is considering giving the Simputer to mail carriers who handle money orders. A villager could send money through a smart card, plugged into the mail carrier’s Simputer, for delivery to a relative on the other side of the country, downloaded to the recipient’s smart card. This would eliminate sending money orders through the mail, where they are often lost or stolen.
Health care agencies in South Africa want to develop a small ultrasound monitor that could be plugged into the Simputer for tracking fetal development among pregnant women in rural settlements.
The Indian government is also interested in the Simputer for collecting reliable and timely information on agricultural production, a process now bogged down by inaccurate and slowly gathered paper documents.