Five Dollar iPod Clone with Linux Connectivity

Mar 07, 2008

Literacy Bridge, a non-profit organisation is developing an MP3 player in iPod Shuffle format. The player will cost US$ 5 and the capable of downloading CC-licensed audio files from Linux platforms.

The "Talking Book" is about the same size as an iPod Shuffle. The device, which uses flash memory, retrieves its content from Linux-based kiosks, which will be sold to subsidize the price of the Talking Books.

The main applications that the developers envisage are in the health and educational sector. Based on the developers’ plans kiosk station operators will offer content to Talking Book owners who can then download MP3 files for a small fee. The audio files themselves will be released under the Creative Commons 2.5 license and will be free of Digital Right Management (DRM).

Liberty Bridge mainly targets poorer regions of the world. To improve the power supply kiosk operators can purchase solar powered chargers to charge the batteries in the players. This will allow Talking Book owners to replace their old batteries with new ones when they purchase new content.

The Talking Book itself does not have an LCD display in contrast to the iPod; instead, it just has a jack for a earphones and a USB port for data transfer. Multiple players can also be linked by a USB port, the supporting an exchange of audio files. The kiosk stations comprise an extremely lean and thus extremely cheap laptop that runs an embedded Linux version.

The inventor of Talking Book, Chliff Schmidt, formerly worked for the Eclipse Foundation and the Apache Software Foundation, and was involved in the "One Laptop per Child" project. Schmidt expects the Talking Book and kiosk station prototypes to be tested before the end of the year in Ghana and India. The system will be presented against the backdrop of the ApacheCon conference in Amsterdam.

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